Solved

SBS 2003 has no Active Directory ... now what do I do?

Posted on 2011-02-16
28
372 Views
Last Modified: 2012-05-11
My company has taken over service for a client (no contact with previous service providers), and I've just discovered that their server, which is a Windows Small Business Server 2003, is somehow configured to run in a workgroup.  Active Directory, DNS Server, DHCP Server - all missing.  (DNS is being provided by the ISP, and DHCP is currently provided by the gateway router.)  I'm not quite sure how they managed this.

I only discovered this by accident, while trying to chase down some Sharepoint errors in the event log; and I was only chasing those in an effort to find a cause for intermittent loss of connectivity in the company's network application.  I have no idea if any of these things are actually related to one another.

I have had some bad experiences with flavors of SBS in the past, and so have avoided it when possible.  (This current situation does not look to improve my view of SBS much, I'm thinking ... )  Consequently, I'm not as knowledgeable or familiar with SBS as I am with other Windows flavors.  I have, however, done some research before coming here, and I gather that running SBS without Active Directory is not only bad, but possibly a violation of the license as well.

Of course, other then the previously mentioned application issues, most things seem to be working, so we'll have to tread carefully when proposing drastic action to the customer.  I'm sure many of you know how that goes ... ;)

So, what I'd like from my fellow Experts is advice.  We'll start generic and work from there.  Obviously, before we do anything, we'll make sure there is a good backup, and run a partial test restore to be safe.  But after that, what should we do?

I've considered possibilities like re-running dcpromo, or running a repair-install from the installation CDs, or even a wipe & reload followed by a restore from backup, but I'm just not sure what the best course of action is here, and I'd like to get plenty of input before recommending something to my boss.

Thanks in advance for your help!
:)
0
Comment
Question by:TekServer
  • 10
  • 7
  • 5
  • +3
28 Comments
 
LVL 4

Assisted Solution

by:RobertParten
RobertParten earned 120 total points
ID: 34910615
I haven't ran into this before; however, from a service provider stand point and cost effectiveness for the customer (LONG TERM) you may be better off with a good file based backup and maybe even just take an image of the server using something like Acronis and reload the entire server.


SBS is more like an appliance rather than a real server because you can't perform certain tasks without running the risk fo destroying everything.
0
 
LVL 77

Accepted Solution

by:
Rob Williams earned 140 total points
ID: 34910621
Don't run DCpromo. Personally I would recommend a complete re-install if you don't want to continue as is, which is in fact a licensing violation.

When you install SBS 2003 it stops at the state in which you have found the server. It allows you to install any drivers, and such, then you click on an icon on the desktop "continue SBS set up" which installs AD, Exchange and all services. You can restore the link by going to the add/remove programs folder, highlight SBS 2003 and click change. However, if any updates or patches have been applied doing so could have disastrous results.
0
 
LVL 77

Expert Comment

by:Rob Williams
ID: 34910636
ps- with SBS it is critical to let it install all components even if you don't plan to use them, ALWAYS use the wizards, and choose defaults whenever possible.
0
 
LVL 32

Assisted Solution

by:aleghart
aleghart earned 120 total points
ID: 34910874
Sounds like operator malfunction, not the way SBS works.  Somebody didn't finish the installation, and left it half-baked.

I second the motion for complete file backup.  Copy shares, etc.  Don't know how the Sharepoint site is going to react with local users versus new AD users.  How could they even get that to work?

How about a fresh install of SBS 2011?  As part of the major upgrade, it would be not be out of line to suggest recreating users, shares, permissions, and set new passwords for everyone.  Then join the workstations to the _new_ domain.
0
 
LVL 2

Expert Comment

by:it-pro
ID: 34914541
How would exchange possibly be working correctly.  I would be suggesting a complete rebuild to the client.
0
 
LVL 4

Expert Comment

by:RobertParten
ID: 34915845
I agree, Exchange 2003 NEEDS active directory to work properly...save yourself time and the client money and rebuild the system and start over.
0
 
LVL 74

Expert Comment

by:Glen Knight
ID: 34916162
before you re-install the system it's probably best to actually check we are talking about SBS2003 and not another version of Windows.

Can you post a screen capture of the properties page of my computer.

Also can you post the output from running the systeminfo command.

With any SBS installation you actually have to Acitvely demote the server to make it not a domain controller (unless it's a failed migration).  I'd be very suprised & worried if someone had done this.
0
 
LVL 77

Expert Comment

by:Rob Williams
ID: 34916206
demazter, as I mentioned, I doubt AD ever was installed, it wouldn't be if the "continue set up" wizard wasn't run. I have seen this numerous times where someone didn't want Exchange and thought the O/S was cheaper with SBS than Std (until they start buying CAL's). They intentionally stop before running the additional disks.
Others say Exchange wouldn't work, but there is no indication Exchange was even installed.
0
 
LVL 74

Expert Comment

by:Glen Knight
ID: 34916232
Yes sure, it's possible.  But it's also possible it could be a different version of Windows?

I seem to recal an old version of 2003 that had a similar name, something like Windows 2003 for small business or something like that, I will see if I can find it.
0
 
LVL 77

Expert Comment

by:Rob Williams
ID: 34916319
Good point still well worth checking.

The one that was named something like Windows 2003 for small business was SBS but only allowed 15 users, it was some sort of promotional version or special release. It still had Exchange. Seems to me that is the one Susan Bradley nicknamed FRESNO
0
 
LVL 74

Expert Comment

by:Glen Knight
ID: 34916391
Ahh, yes, that might be the one I am refering to WSfSBS, but I thought it had a different name and didn't have Exchange installed. :) Oh well, never mind :)
0
 
LVL 74

Expert Comment

by:Glen Knight
ID: 34916409
For anyone viewing this thread in the future, the blog by Susan Bradley, or the SBS Diva as she is more effectionately known can be found here: http://msmvps.com/blogs/bradley/archive/2005/01/25/33859.aspx

0
 
LVL 10

Author Comment

by:TekServer
ID: 34918512
Wow.  A bit of confusion on my part, so sorry for the delay.  I had no idea that there were actually two different "flavors" of what I think of as "Small Business Server 2003".

As the attached screenshot shows, this is in fact the stripped down "Windows Server 2003 for Small Business Server" version, or "Fresno" as Susan Bradley called it.  (Note:  this is the last time I will use the "Fresno" nickname, because there is some confusion - or at least there was in my mind - between Ms. Bradley's use of the term, as linked by demazter, and a fictional "Fresno" appliance.)

I had to disconnect from the server before I got a chance to run the systeminfo command.

To the best of my knowledge, the company is not using Exchange.  (Frankly, as others have said, I don't see how they could on this server anyway, as it sits currently.)

So, we've established that this server is running Microsoft Windows Server 2003 for SBS (with SP2), which is limited to 15 CALs and doesn't play well with other domains, but still requires AD.  There's no Exchange data to break.  I also believe (I will confirm this when I can) that there is nothing currently on the server that is using SharePoint, despite the errors in the logs.  (See attached code for specific error details if you need them.  Note that if these errors go away that will be a nice bonus, but that's not why we're here.)  I don't know whether the client's network app uses SQL, but it seems likely.

The predominant recommendations seem to be to backup vigorously, then nuke the site from orbit to be sure (figuratively, of course).  There also seems to be a possibility to finish the "second half" of the SBS install, which might be faster but runs the risk of wiping out any updates (similar to a repair-install) and could be otherwise risky.  There's also been a mention of upgrading to the newest SBS version; this might be a hard sell to the client (everything's pretty much working from their perspective), but it's worth considering.

Did I miss anything, and does anyone have further questions or clarifications?

Thanks!
:)
Event Type: Error
Event Source: Windows SharePoint Services 2.0
Event Category: None
Event ID: 1000
Description:
#50070: Unable to connect to the database STS_Config on <server>\SharePoint.
Check the database connection information
and make sure that the database server is running.

Open in new window

screenshot.JPG
0
 
LVL 77

Expert Comment

by:Rob Williams
ID: 34918621
>>"So, we've established that this server is running Microsoft Windows Server 2003 for SBS (with SP2)"
Not necessarily, I have attached a screen shot from a full SBS version. I forget how to tell exactly whether you have Fresno, but all versions of SBS show the same as your screen shot.
Graphic in mine is different as it is older release.
Regardless you still need to resolve.
Check add/remove programs. If any service packs have been added (i.e. SP2 was not built into media) It can be VERY risky doing a continue set up
SBS.jpg
0
 
LVL 77

Expert Comment

by:Rob Williams
ID: 34918683
Run regedit and go to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\SmallBusinessServer\SuiteID  the value should be 5717D53E-DD6D-4d1e-8A1F-C7BE620F65AA  if it is full SBS.

0
 
LVL 77

Expert Comment

by:Rob Williams
ID: 34918701
0
 
LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:aleghart
ID: 34918714
Is this OEM licenses, or do they have SA?  If SA, then at least look at 2008(I haven't looked at 2011 yet).  The remote ability to get to LAN computers from outside is valuable.  You aren't forced to use IE w/ActiveX on Windows.  You can connect with RDC using the SBS server as the TS Gateway address.  No browser limitations, and you can use full-screen and map printers/drives, etc. in a regular RDP session.
0
 
LVL 77

Expert Comment

by:Rob Williams
ID: 34918781
It may be that Exchange is not installed/supplied on the Fresno version. Very hard to find details on this. If you have an unused PC with 1GB+ of RAM why not try doing the base install, just accept all defaults, and see if it places the "continue setup icon" on the desktop.

Also how many CD's are there?
0
 
LVL 74

Expert Comment

by:Glen Knight
ID: 34918828
Also, from a commas prompt type the following:

Systeminfo > c:\sysinfo.txt

Upload the sysinfo.txt file please?
0
 
LVL 4

Expert Comment

by:RobertParten
ID: 34921080
Lots of people forget/don't know that useful systeminfo command exists.
0
 
LVL 74

Expert Comment

by:Glen Knight
ID: 34921125
It's very under utilised but that's mainly because the data is available elsewhere just not all in the same place.
0
 
LVL 77

Expert Comment

by:Rob Williams
ID: 34921297
Systeminfo on standard SBS will still show "Microsoft(R) Windows(R) Server 2003 for Small Business", however it also displays the build numbers if you have a list of the various proper builds.
0
 
LVL 10

Author Comment

by:TekServer
ID: 34929175
Got in today to get the system info file.  I sanitized it (removed company specific name info) and attached it below.

:)
sysinfo.txt
0
 
LVL 74

Assisted Solution

by:Glen Knight
Glen Knight earned 120 total points
ID: 34929434
The part of that file I was after was this:

OS Configuration:          Standalone Server
This should say Primary Domain Controller, we can now confirm catagorically that the SBS installation either wasn't completed or failed.

I am suprised you are not experiencing other issues like random reboots etc.
0
 
LVL 10

Author Comment

by:TekServer
ID: 34998839
Sorry for the delay.  Live, as always, dances at the whims of Mr. Murphy.  (Nuff said.)

Frankly, I'm as surprised as you that we haven't seen random reboots and other such issues.  So far the only issues have been the Sharepoint error messages mentioned earlier, and last week the server stopped responding overnight and had to be reset in the morning when they came in.

I just found out today that another tech turned off the Sharepoint Timing Service on Saturday (Sharepoint isn't being used anyway), and it appears that may have cured the "unresponsive" issue from last week.  It may have cured the performance issues mentioned in the original question as well; time will tell for sure.

So, here's what I've got so far (corrections or additions welcome):
- This may or may not be the "Fresno" version of SBS 2003, but since AD is required either way, Exchange is not being used (nor are there any plans for its use), and the 15-user limit is not yet an issue, this is for now a moot point.
- With the elimination of the Sharepoint error messages, all symptoms noticeable to the users may be gone.  (This will, of course, make it more difficult to get them to see the importance of resolving this.)
- Given that the system has been patched to at least SP2, and most likely beyond that with a passel of hotfixes and updates, finishing the initial install is likely to cause more problems than it will solve; the recommended solution would be to back up data and reinstall.  (Ideally a full nuke-and-pave, but we can probably make a nondestructive "repair" reinstallation, followed by reinstalling patches and updates, work.)

Questions?  Comments?

I'll try to resolve this and distribute points in the next week or two, basing my choice of Answer on our chosen course of action rather than the finished results on the server, which will probably take much longer if I'm any judge of company policies.  ;)

(I wish I could give you all points before the February closeout, but that's just not feasible ... )

:)
0
 
LVL 10

Author Comment

by:TekServer
ID: 34999558
Urk.  Let's just pretend that sentence reads "Life, as always, dances at the whims of Mr. Murphy."

I hate typos.

Also, turning off the Sharepoint Timing Service eliminated the event log errors, in case that wasn't clear.

:)
0
 
LVL 77

Expert Comment

by:Rob Williams
ID: 35014665
>>"I'm as surprised as you that we haven't seen random reboots and other such issues. "
If SBS was halted before completion, i.e. continue set up wizard wasn't run, AD would not be installed, and thus the random shut downs will not occur because the required features (time bomb) have not been installed. However if the is the case it is a licensing violation to run the server in this state.
0
 
LVL 10

Author Closing Comment

by:TekServer
ID: 35071129
Thank you all for your input!

No decision has yet been made on this server, and with other crises going on this one may get back-burnered for a while.  Especially now that the Sharepoint services have been disabled, making it stable.

As we all know, for many customers (especially very small businesses), license violations are usually seen as far less catastrophic than performance issues, despite our best warnings to the contrary.

Anyway, I am closing this with points distributed, and I will be recommending a backup & reload to the powers that be.

Thanks again!
:)
0

Join & Write a Comment

A quick step-by-step overview of installing and configuring Carbonite Server Backup.
Find out how to use Active Directory data for email signature management in Microsoft Exchange and Office 365.
This tutorial will walk an individual through the steps necessary to join and promote the first Windows Server 2012 domain controller into an Active Directory environment running on Windows Server 2008. Determine the location of the FSMO roles by lo…
This tutorial will walk an individual through the process of configuring their Windows Server 2012 domain controller to synchronize its time with a trusted, external resource. Use Google, Bing, or other preferred search engine to locate trusted NTP …

747 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

Join & Ask a Question

Need Help in Real-Time?

Connect with top rated Experts

12 Experts available now in Live!

Get 1:1 Help Now