7 Replies Latest reply on Nov 4, 2009 11:40 AM by AHunter3_1

    Filemaker dBs freeze on only some workstations (not all)

    Visor

      Summary

      Filemaker dBs freeze on only some workstations (not all)

      Description of the issue

      FileMaker Product(s) involved:Filemaker 8.5v2 Operating System(s) involved:File Server: Windows 2003 Server Standard Edition SP2Workstations: Windows XP SP2 & SP3 Detailed description of the issue:For certain Filemaker databases (appears to be random) that reside on one of our servers, some client PCs are able to open them without issue, while other PCs get stuck on a blank grey screen within Filemaker.  Sometimes the database will finally open after ~10 minutes, other times the database won't open at all (we usually give up after 30 mins).      Exact steps to reproduce the issue:1.  Browse to Filemaker database on server (via either inside Filemaker, in Windows Explorer, or just a desktop shortcut to the shared folder).2.  Open the Filemaker database (by clicking ‘open’ in Filemaker, or double-clicking on the filename in Windows Explorer / Share).3.  If double-clicking on file outside of Filemaker, then the Filemaker app loads, (splash screen appears briefly). 4.  Filemaker goes to a grey screen with no File menu at top (just the icon menu below it).5.  After ~10 minutes (best case), the login screen will appear for the user to provide a password.5a. If database doesn’t open (we usually give up after about half an hour), Filemaker cannot be killed in Task Manager so a reboot is required.6.  Once user provides password and the database opens, performance is normal, although sometimes running a query/report causes another freeze.Any additional configuration information/troubleshooting that is relevant to the issue:1.  Databases open quickly & with no issues when accessing directly from the server, and on certain PCs (random).2.  All workstations involved are well over the minimum system recommendations for running Filemaker.     (ranges from P4 @ 2.8 GHz to Core2Duo @ 2.6 GHz, and from 512MB - 2GB RAM).    3.  Server is a Virtual Machine (VMWare) that has been provided with an AMD Operton @ 2.2 GHz (single-core) w/ 1 GB RAM (typical CPU usage is < 5%; typical RAM usage is only ~350 MB).  4.  VM farm is located in a building separate from user sites.  Always accessed via WAN.  5.  All workstations belong to the same domain, and can view the server via Windows Explorer, pings, etc. without issue.  6.  Filemaker Server Admin program is not installed on this server.  Users are simply accessing their databases through a share that was created for them on the server.  Any workarounds that you have found:1.  “Recover” option sometimes works, but not always.  2.  Making a copy of the Filemaker file to the local PC usually alleviates the problem (but defeats the purpose of hosting it on a file server).    Feel free to ask me more questions about the system setup. Thanks, RyanCalgary, Canada  

        • 1. Re: Filemaker dBs freeze on only some workstations (not all)
          philmodjunk
            

          1.  Browse to Filemaker database on server (via either inside Filemaker, in Windows Explorer, or just a desktop shortcut to the shared folder).

          2.  Open the Filemaker database (by clicking ‘open’ in Filemaker, or double-clicking on the filename in Windows Explorer / Share).

           

          Method in Bold print is NOT the recommended method to open a shared database and can corrupt your data!

           

          All files should be opened with filemaker pro or filemaker pro server on the server computer.

           

          All clients should use Open Remote to access the database.

           

          • 2. Re: Filemaker dBs freeze on only some workstations (not all)
            Visor
              

            Hi Phil, thanks for your quick response.

             

            > Method in Bold print is NOT the recommended method to open a shared database and can corrupt your data!

            > All files should be opened with filemaker pro or filemaker pro server on the server computer.

             

            Ahh... okay that worked for me.  I'll test it with my clients just to be sure.  Why is the double-click method problematic?  The reason I ask is because this is not going to be an easy request to put on the users, as there are literally hundreds of Filemaker databases on this server in folders that go pretty deep under the master share.  Most users have shortcuts on their desktop to avoid spending time drilling down into the folders.  I suppose the only work around is to get them to use the File -> Open Recent option?

             

             

            > All clients should use Open Remote to access the database.

             

            As per what I said in the Configuration/Troubleshooting section in my first post:

             

            6.  Filemaker Server Admin program is not installed on this server.  Users are simply accessing their databases through a share that was created for them on the server.

             

             

            Thanks,

            Visor

            • 3. Re: Filemaker dBs freeze on only some workstations (not all)
              philmodjunk
                

              What I am describing has been strongly recommended by Filelmaker Inc. since Filemaker 3 at least.

               

              1. When a user navigates to a shared drive and is the first user to open it, their computer becomes the Host computer and any subsequent users are guests of their machine. When the hosted file is not on the local hard drive of the host computer, network performance can be greatly slowed.
              2. If the first user attempts to close the DB while others are using it, they'll be prevented from closing the DB until either they notify and ask each guest to quit or they force them off. Either way gets awkward for your users.
              3. Under certain circumstances, opening shared databases in this way (directly from a shared volume), can corrupt (permanently damage so that it no longer works correctly) the database file.

              On the server, you should install either Filemaker Pro or Filemaker Server and this program should open the file first. Then all users can access the file safely by choosing Open Remote.

              • 4. Re: Filemaker dBs freeze on only some workstations (not all)
                Visor
                  

                Hi again Phil, 

                 

                Sorry, but I spoke too soon.  After I opened the database through Filemaker (instead of double-clicking in Windows Explorer), the username/password window came up right away, but after I logged into the dB, it went back to a grey screen again and stayed that way for more than 20 minutes.  I ran a 'recover' on the database from the server and tried again, but the same thing happened.  

                 

                Your points are interesting, but the problem is most of the problematic files do not have network sharing turned on.  Therefore, if someone is trying to access a database that is already opened by someone else, it will give an error that the file is locked and it won’t open the file.  Also, the person who opened the file first gets a warning that sharing is turned off. Filemaker Pro is installed on the server, but considering the sheer amount of databases (as I mentioned, in the hundreds), this is not a viable option.  Installing the Filemaker Server Admin app may be possible, provided the dept. has the budget for a license.  That said, it will take a lot of work to track down all the Filemaker databases on that server and implement them into the Server Admin app. 

                 

                However, your points gave me another idea of where to look… I just checked out the file references for this database and there are 5 other files connected to it; 3 of which are on separate servers.  I will investigate this and see if the referenced files are causing any problems. 

                 

                Thanks,

                Visor 

                • 5. Re: Filemaker dBs freeze on only some workstations (not all)
                  philmodjunk
                    

                  External file references in Filemaker can be multi-layered where Filemaker attempts to connect to a file one layer at a time until it reaches the bottom of the list.

                   

                  If one of the upper layers refers to an incorrect IP address, it can take a very long time until it determines that the IP reference isn't going to work and then moves down to the next listed reference.

                   

                  Here's an example:

                   

                  A reference might look like this...

                  fmnet:/IP Address/filename

                  file:filename

                   

                  If the IP Address is bad but a relative path reference is valid, you can be left waiting quite some time before the file finally opens.

                  • 6. Re: Filemaker dBs freeze on only some workstations (not all)
                    Visor
                      

                    Well, it turns out that external file references were the problem. :manindifferent:  The first layer of references for a couple of the files were pointing to a server/share that no longer existed.  The second layer was pointing to the correct location for the files, which was why certain PCs were still able to open the database.

                     

                    I think that part of the problem lies with the network cards and/or network drivers for our newer PCs.  Our company uses IBM workstations, but it seems that ever since Lenovo took over IBM's PC division, their PCs have contained network cards that panic whenever a network location is not found.  My recently-replaced PC also experiences these problems, even with updated network drivers.  This is a pretty annoying issue, as it also affects things outside of Filemaker, but I guess it will help me identify other Filemaker databases that have outdated references.

                     

                    Anyway, thanks for your help!

                     

                    Visor

                    • 7. Re: Filemaker dBs freeze on only some workstations (not all)
                      AHunter3_1
                        

                      Not only should you never double-click on a served/hosted file as viewed in Network Neighborhood, you should not have OS level file sharing turned on at all on the host/server box.  AND you should never, ever, try to actually use a Recovered file for anything other than a source of data to be imported into an empty clone of your last known good backup (i.e., a file that has NEVER been Recovered).  Recovery is like the jaws of life with regards to auto accidents:  it isn't a tool designed to fix your wrecked car, it is a tool designed to force it OPEN so you can get the contents out safely.  It DESTROYS portions of the structure as need be in order to do so.  A Recovered file is at absolute best no worse off than it was before Recovery, and you cannot know for sure that it is even that good.  Most often, bits and pieces of the db structure have been overwritten with nonsense characters in order to wipe out code that FileMaker crashes on or cannot deal with due to corruption.

                       

                      (Fm Inc really ought to rename it "Scavenge")