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May172008

Troubleshooting Server Hangs – Part 4

 Today we are going to discuss PTE depletion and Low Physical Memory conditions and how those two issues can lead to server hangs.  In our post on the /3GB switch we mentioned that in general, a system should always have around 10,000 free System PTE’s.  Although we normally see PTE depletion issues on systems using the /3GB switch, that does not necessarily mean that using the /3GB switch is going to cause issues – what we said was that the /3GB switch is intended to be used in very specific instances.  Tuning the memory further by using the USERVA switch in conjunction with the /3GB switch can often stave off PTE depletion issues.  The problem with PTE depletion is that there are no entries logged in the Event Viewer that indicate that there is a resource issue.  This is where using Performance Monitor to determine whether a system is experiencing PTE depletion comes into play.  However, Performance Monitor may not identify why PTE’s are being depleted.  In instances where a process has a continually rising handle count that mirrors the rate of PTE depletion, it is fairly straightforward to identify the culprit.  However, more often than not we have to turn to a complete dump file to analyze the problem.

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