Not Responding

From Steve Best, ABA Techshow Board Member.

When Microsoft Windows asks a program to do something, like accept a keystroke or close itself, and the program fails to acknowledge that request within a certain amount of time, the program is said to be “Not Responding” according to Windows.  If the program never comes out of that state, we might also call it “hung”, as in “hung up”.   When it comes to programs with database components on the server, however, most times the program is working and writing data to its database, though other factors may slow it down.  Even if your program is just local to your workstation, sometimes it’s just working and needs a moment or two.  When Windows detects that “nothing” is happening within a rather short time period that Windows itself deems reasonable, it will often put the words “Not Responding” in the window frame of the application.

The reality is that most Windows programs of late, especially those that have SQL database foundations and/or maintain a central database are often “responding” albeit slowly.  For example, when a software product is given a command by a user, depending on the command sent from the workstation, over the network to the database, it may often take more time to complete its transaction or “call” to the database than “normal”, and Windows will trick the user into thinking that the application is hung by placing “not responding” in the windows frame of the application.  The problem is that when the end user believes the application is hung, and thereafter forces a software product to close, often times, the data that is being written to the database is incomplete.   In those circumstances, impatience is your worst enemy and forcing the application to close may cause your database to become unstable because the application was not able to complete its “write” to the database.

As hard as it may be, the best practice is to simply be patient.  You’ll be surprised that patience may actually resolve the issue and your program’s “not responding” message disappears.  If this is a recurring issue, it’s time to take a look at some key factors in your own network including, network folder rights (do you have full access to the database folder on your server), is your equipment older and has it been properly updated and maintained, have you recently changed anything significant on your network, have you added or updated a new virus detection software program, etc., or is some other equipment on your network having issue or beginning to fail (like your switch, router, network cards).  Often times “not responding” is related to hardware than software.

Remember, in the scientific equation of software and hardware, the hardware is the variable and the software is the constant.  In other words, the software typically runs on thousands of other systems, the hardware and network is unique to your firm or business.  Slowness or “not responding” is usually network connectivity, workstation connectivity and NOT your software product.