technology

How To Fix the Azureus “File Close Fails” Errors

I occasionally use Azureus (a bit torrent manager) to find episodes of TV shows I missed (which I promptly delete) or to download open source programs (I never use it for anything illegal of course ;). Anyway, a few weeks ago I downloaded a few torrents and started them in Azureus. I was headed out of town for about 10 days and was going to leave my computer running while gone so I could access any files I needed. With the torrents I downloaded running, my computer would have something to do for the 10 days I’d be gone.

But no sooner had I walked out the door and gotten a chance to check on my computer then I started noticing some strange errors in Azureus. I was suspicious at first that it may have to do with the fact that I was downloading a whole bunch of torrents and may have run out of hard drive space on my “torrent” drive (an old 80gb drive used just for torrents). I checked the drive space and it was getting low, so I stopped a few of the torrents, deleted the files they had downloaded, and figured that would solve the problem, freeing up some space.

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No such luck. The next time I logged into my computer I found the same errors. There are, in fact, two separate errors that pop up and I wasn’t really sure what was going on.

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The first error says:
File close fails: D:\torrents\**************** (The process cannot access the file because it is being used by another process), open fails, flush fails

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The second error says:
Disk read error – D:\torrents\******************* (The process cannot access the file because it is being used by another process), open fails

If you look closely at the error messages, the error is on a specific part of the torrent that is being downloaded (in this case they are .avi files). I wasn’t sure what the problem was, but continued to think that it may just be these particular torrents since I had never had this problem before or it may be tied to my earlier problem with the hard drive being too full.

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Either way, if I stopped the torrent and then started it again, the torrent would reset (Azureus would check each torrent again) and then run for a while before giving me the error again. Since I could get it to go away and each torrent would run for a few hours before running into the error, I figured I could live with the problem for a while.

Well, I tried that, but eventually the error messages got so bad that I decided to do a little sleuthing on the internet to see if anyone had encountered a similar problem. It took some searching, but I finally found someone who had a solution to the problem. The culprit wasn’t my low hard drive space, Azureus, or the torrents. The culprit was, get this – Google Desktop. That’s right, it’s the nifty program I use once every two or three weeks to find something on my computer that has gone missing. Apparently Google Desktop was indexing my torrents while they were running. And if it was indexing the file while Azureus was trying to access it, they would run into a conflict and Google Desktop would win – blocking out Azureus and resulting in the error messages I was getting. I’m not positive on this, but I think I did upgrade Google Desktop around the same time I started getting the error messages.

The solution to the problem is actually pretty simple – well, there are actually two solutions. The site I found suggested uninstalling Google Desktop. I thought that was a little overboard, so I went with the second option – telling Google Desktop not to index that hard drive. It’s a simple little process; here’s what you do:

(1) Right click on the Google Desktop icon in your task tray and go to “Preferences”

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(2) Search for where it says “Don’t Search These Items”

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(3) Enter in the location of your torrent files:

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(4) Then save your preferences:

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(5) You should see a “Your preferences have been saved” message:

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(6) Restart your torrents and you should be good to go.

The website I found said it had some issues with getting Google Desktop to not index the torrents after telling it not to. After I told it not to, I didn’t have a problem (I waited two days and had no more errors). In order to get pictures for this “how to,” I again allowed Google Desktop to index my torrent drive and within about six hours it had killed all of my torrents. So, I’m almost 100% positive this was the problem.

technology

Checking the signal level on your Toshiba Cable Modem (PCX2200)

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I’ve had RoadRunner high speed internet access for nearly a year now (7/2004-5/2004), and for 6 months of that year, I have experienced intermittent signal loss. What this means is that I lose my connection to the internet at random times and for no apparent reason (e.g., webpages don’t load, IM doesn’t work, downloads don’t work, etc.). Of course to me this is a problem, but I have had a hard time convincing RoadRunner that it is a problem. Much of what makes this problem tricky is that my ‘cable’ light on my modem stays on, which is supposed to indicate that the modem is receiving a signal and is connected to the RoadRunner network. As the technicians at RoadRunner have repeatedly pointed out, if the light is still on, I should have a connection. But I don’t. And, it is often the case that if I unplug my modem, then plug it back in (which is the only way to reset it), I can get the signal back, at least until it goes out again (which could be 5 minutes or 4 hours later).

After nearly a year of complaining about this problem, I have finally been able to figure out what is really happening. The problem is that the strength of the signal making it to the modem is really, really low. But, there is a signal and it is high enough that the modem believes there is a connection, so the cable light stays on.

I have fought with Roadrunner for six months to convince them that there is a problem, and that the problem isn’t on my end. I use a router to connect the four computers I have at home. RoadRunner first blamed my connection problems on that. I disconnected the router and still lost the signal. Then they said it might be my computers. But why would all four of my computers lose their connections simultaneously? They don’t all have bad Network Interface Cards (NICs), and I know that for a fact because two of them are laptops and they work when I take them to school. I do have to admit, however, that the technicians have admitted that my signal is low but they never seemed to think it was much of a problem and they definitely have never seemed to want to do anything about it.

Now for the educational part… What does it mean when I (or the technicians) say my signal is low? From what I can gather, signal level is measured in dBmV (deciBel milliVolts; don’t ask me what this means, I don’t know). This site, and the last cable technician that came out to check my line, says that the recommended signal level is in the 0 to 2 dBmV range. My signal is -14.1 dBmV. Apparently, according to RoadRunner’s technicians, -14.1 qualifies as ‘low’ signal, but not a ‘bad’ signal. Of course, the technicians don’t want to admit that the result of my ‘low’ signal, is that I intermittently (and for no apparent reason), lose my signal. One website I found referred to this phenomenon as ‘losing synch’.

Even though the technicians were telling me my signal was low, they weren’t actually talking in terms of numbers. They just kept speaking to me euphemistically about ‘low’ and ‘bad’, with no concrete information or numbers being passed to me, the consumer. This was bothersome and I really didn’t know what to do about it. After all, what do I know about cable signal levels? What’s more, the only way that the technicians had checked the signal level was to hook up a fancy gadget to my cable right where my modem plugged and and, voila, there was the signal level. But one technician actually spilled the beans about self-checking my signal level when he did it while I was on the phone with him from wherever he was located. Perhaps I should have known this was possible before he did it, but I didn’t. However, once I realized it was possible, I decided I wanted to know how to check it myself so I would have solid evidence for when I had to call for service again.

So, what I have done below is outline how to self-check your modem’s signal level. It’s a little complicated and took me a while to figure out, but now that I know how to do it, I figured I’d share this with everyone else. Also, this is really only complicated because this particular type of modem does not broadcast its public IP page on the same network as the internet (if you don’t understand that, don’t worry, I don’t really either, but that’s how it makes sense to me). So, what you need to do is change your network settings so you are on the same network as your Toshiba modem (along with most other DOCSIS modems), then you can check its status and the corresponding signal level. This won’t tell you whether you are connected to the internet (a nifty program called PingPlotter will help with that), but it will tell you how crappy your signal is. You can then use this information to call RoadRunner and chew them out.

So, this is how you check your modem’s signal strength:

1. You need to connect directly to your modem, so plug the ethernet cable coming out of your modem directly into your computer’s NIC (network interface card).

2. Open ‘Network Connections’ on your computer:

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3. Choose your Local Area Connection, right click it, and click on ‘properties.’

4. This will pull up a new window called ‘Local Area Connection Properties’. Look for an item that says ‘Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)’. Select it, then click ‘properties.’

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5. This will pull up another window labeled ‘Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) Properties.’ The button next to ‘Obtain an IP address automatically’ should already be checked (see the picture below). However, what you need to do to get on the same network as your modem, is set a static IP. You do this by checking ‘Use the following IP address:’

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6. When you click the button next to ‘Use the following IP address’, it will demask the boxes and let you enter in numbers. The numbers you want to enter are:

IP address: 192.168.100.2
Subnet mask: 255.255.255.0
Default gateway: 192.168.100.1

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7. That’s it. Once you have entered those numbers exactly, you can click ‘OK’ at the bottom of the ‘Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) Properties’ box and ‘Close’ on the ‘Local Area Connection Properties’ box.

8. Now, pull up your browser (Mozilla, Internet Explorer), and type in the following URL: . What should come up is a screen that looks like the following:

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9. This will tell you your signal strength (circled in red). If it is below 0, you’ve got a problem. You can then proceed to hound RoadRunner until they come rewire your house or whatever else is necessary in order for the problem to get fixed. Or, you can just do what we are probably going to do, get DSL.

Reference site:
DOCSIS Diagnostics page