Have you ever been standing in line at the company cafeteria and overheard someone saying "Boy, my Lotus Notes crashes all the time," and you thought to yourself, "What does that person mean by 'all the time' and is there anything I can do about it?"
ND6 has just the tool to let you discover this and lots more. It is the Automatic Diagnostic Collection tool. When you enable it through policies, the next time the workstations come up, it collects the diagnostic files by mail from every workstation that crashes.
The key to making this tool valuable is what you do with that data once you've collected it. It may be a bit frightening at first, because you probably will have more data than you know what to do with. For instance, if you have 10,000 users, of whom only 1% crash every day, you will get 100 NSDs sent to your collection database every day at about 1 MB each.
Once you have the files, the important thing is to group them together into common crashes and set a threshold of frequency above which you will research and analyze a problem. In other words, if after two weeks I collected 1,000 crashes, I might determine that I would only pursue anything that represented more than 20 crashes and impacted multiple users.
The best trick you will find in this article is the method for grouping similar crashes. You could open each NSD and search for the word 'Fatal' and compare the fatal threads, but there is a much better way.
Every diagnostic report document has a field called 'CallStack,' which actually has the key information from the fatal thread. To group all similar crashes together, all you need to do is create a view that categorizes on @Left(CallStack; 15) + " " + @DocDescendents. This will give you the number of each type of crash. You can then pick the ones that are most prevalent, open them and analyze the NSDs.
Usually, my analysis of an NSD has three stages:
- Search the NSD for 'Fatal,' read the fatal thread info and see if there are any obvious tasks or databases referenced.
- For example: I found a grouping of crashes that all referenced cadenza.exe, a synchronization software for iPAQ Pocket PCs, which at this particular shop was not a supported application, so I was able to discount those crashes.
- Take the first phrase out of the fatal call and do a search in Knowledge Base for it. Often, you will get a hit and be able to establish either the cause of the crash, or at least find out that Lotus is aware of it and whether or not they are doing anything about it. Do the same search in the ND6 forum on LDD. Sometimes, others will post NSDs there and you can find out what they have done.
- An example of this was a tremendous number of NSDs that I received from a variety of individuals in one single day. It turned out that these were all caused by the dreaded 'American Airlines' e-mail, which if you open, will crash Notes every time. It turned out that American had sent out statements to everyone that day.
- Open a ticket with Lotus support.
- Often they will have internal technotes that will reference your problem, and they can give you an answer right away. Make sure to give them as much info as you can about the configurations in question.
- In one case I found that one third of all client crashes that were being experienced were due to the clients having "Enable Scheduled Local Agents" checked, when in fact none of the users actually ran locally scheduled agents. This was something that Lotus Support had an internal SPR for, so they were able to quickly inform me once they had the NSD.
In closing, realize that you aren't going to be able to eliminate all your client crashes. But by finding the few big culprits in your environment, you can make a huge difference in your clients' perception of your messaging environment.
About the author: Rob Axelrod is Vice President of Technotics, Inc. He has been working with Notes and Domino since Release 2 and has worked as a trainer, presenter and consultant on a variety of migration, administration and development projects for clients ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 organizations. He will be presenting at the upcoming Admin 2004 event on a number of ND6 related topics. Technotics provides strategic consulting and training on collaborative infrastructure projects for customers throughout the world. You can contact Technotics through their Web site at www.technotics.com.
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