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BSOD returns with a vengeance!

April 28th, 2006 · No Comments

Getting the "Blue Screen of Death" (BSOD) on your Server?  Want to avoid getting into that situation? Read on!

This post applies to SoftDent, EagleSoft, Dentrix, MediaDent, Dentech, EasyDental, PracticeWorks, and very probably every Windows based Dental Practice Management product that runs on Windows 2003 server. Some of you may have checked your system requirements on the vendor’s support page and might argue "Windows 2003 Server" is not yet listed as supported on a few of these vendors support pages…..however there is little if anything that runs on 2000 server that will NOT run on 2003 Server, thus your support people may very well propose that OS (Operating System), or may have installed that OS for your DPM software to run on.

Dental Practice Management (DPM) software in practices across the United States resides on a variety of server platforms.  We have seen Windows XP Pro, Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Professional and Even some simple SNAP file server implementations used to host the DPM database.  If you are currently deploying a new server, or upgrading your server, there is a high probablility that you will choose Windows 2003 Server to host your DPM.

We are seeing this new Windows 2003 server software being delivered on Dell hardware, HP Proliant hardware, and clone (Xeon) hardware.  It seems to work great UNTIL YOU INSTALL SP1 (Service Pack 1) from Microsoft’s update site.

After you install SP1, applications don’t start correctly, or hang, and the system starts blue screening often (several times a week, up to daily).  Sometimes the Blue Screen of Death BSOD occurs when the nightly backup is running, sometimes when it completes.  Occasionally the system might just reboot for no reason.

The bottom line is, backup your server’s "system state" and everything on your server before you install SP1. Cloning the drives, is sometimes the easiest and fastest way to do this, unless you are extremely confident in your backup software.  

If your Dental Practice Management server starts blue screening (on 2003 server after installing SP1), make ANOTHER backup of that days practice data if you still can. TIP, if you can’t get the ntbackup utility to run because it causes blue screens, use Norton’s Ghost utility to simply clone the drive that houses the data to a new disk drive.

If you have performed the two backups mentioned above, you are ready to "uninstall" Service Pack 1.  Sometimes people will choose "do not archive files" when they initially installed SP1, in that case, you will not be able to uninstall SP1.  If you find yourself in that predicament, restore your "pre SP1" system state then restore your "current practice data" from the "Practice Data backup" mentioned earlier in this post.

Your Windows 2003 server should stop bluescreening if you were successfull at rolling back the SP1 Service Pack.

There are two other scenarios.  One – Your machine "botched" the uninstall, and now won’t boot.  Two-after the SP1 seems to have been successfully removed, your system still gives you the BSOD (BlueScreen of Death).  In this case, you should be able to follow the previous instructions to restore your old "Pre-SP1" system state, and then restore your practice data from the practice data backup.

If you haven’t upgraded to Windows 2003 Server yet, count your lucky stars and keep this information for the inevitable time when 2000 server is retired, and you have no choice but to upgrade to 2003 server.

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