Can't join a computer to SBS 2003 domain.  "Pre-Windows 2000 name is in use"

Posted on 2012-08-30
Last Modified: 2012-08-31
A workstation died.  I bought a new box, and want to join the domain using the same computer name XXXX.   I first deleted the broken computer from the domain.  I restarted the server (not sure if necessary).  Then tried to create a new computer with name XXXX.  It tells me "Windows cannot create the new computer object because the pre-Windows 2000 computer name XXXX is already in use.  I first gave it a different pre-Windows name (XXXX2) but while the box tells me I'm connected and I see XXXX on the server in Admin, the box does not see other workstations nor workstations see the XXXX box.  I have again deleted XXXX from the domain.  
How can I delete the XXXX pre-Windows computer name so it can be used again (I'm assuming the XXXX2 is what's keeping the machines from seeing each other.)
Question by:Fritters
    LVL 77

    Expert Comment

    by:Rob Williams
    That message can be a little misleading sometimes, it may be due to a conflict with a built-in user or computer account name.  For example you cannot use "Network" or "System" in a computer name.
    Can you tell us what the name is?

    Where you say you had the name in use before this is probably not your issue, but thought I would point it out.

    It is also never a good idea to reuse computer names.  To prperly remove a PC from an SBS 2003 network and rejoin please see the detailed instructions by TechSoEasy:
    LVL 9

    Accepted Solution

    Dont create the "Computer Object" in AD. First assign same name to new machine and then add that workstation to domain it will automatically create computer object in AD..
    LVL 77

    Expert Comment

    by:Rob Williams
    @ djsharma
    SBS 2003 has a requirement to create the computer account on the server first using a "Set up client computers" wizard.

    Author Comment

    Assume the name is "MyDesktop".  BTW, the URL you pointed to says "¦Change the name of the computer (this is not an option, you must use a name that is unique and hasn’t been used before on your SBS) "  That defeats the whole purpose of my question.

    I done it both ways.  Just now, deleted on the server and joined at the workstation.  Yes, the join seemed successful.  However, "MyDesktop" does not appear in a refreshed list in the SBSComputers in Admin.  Nor can MyDesktop see any other workstation and vice versa.  So, I'm back to where I was.
    LVL 77

    Expert Comment

    by:Rob Williams
    >>"That defeats the whole purpose of my question"
    Yes, but maybe it is the right answer.  The top two SBS experts (based on points only) in this forum, and both SBS MVP awarders,  are telling you not to do it.

    Using the same name can cause all sorts of problems as there are still traces of it in AD, DNS, ARP, on local workstations, and more.  Keep in mind the same name but not the same SID (Security Identifier) which is what cases most of the problems.

    Author Comment

    I solved it.  In the Network and Sharing Center/Advanced sharing settings there are the options to turn on network discovery.  By default it was off.  Selecting that and refreshing now shows all the other computers as expected.  So....  I was apparently connected "all the time" but appeared to NOT be.  But since my original question was how to reuse the name and since DJSharma pointed me to the "don't use server admin to do it",  I think the points go to him (even tho' I had to discover the Advanced sharing settings" myself.

    Author Comment

    BTW,  SBS 2003 DOES allow a workstation to join a domain FROM the workstation as long as the info of someone with admin privileges is available.
    LVL 77

    Expert Comment

    by:Rob Williams
    >>"BTW,  SBS 2003 DOES allow a workstation to join a domain FROM the workstation "
    Absolutely, but it defeats many of the SBS features.  SBS is not server standard.  Most of the methods used with server standard will work with SBS but you loose the "bonus" features.  For example the http://SBSname/connectcomputer wizard performs at least 20 tasks that manually joining does not do.  See:

    In an SBS environment it is imperative to use the wizards.

    Author Comment

    Wizard?  On the server?  Is that different than going into SBSComputers, right clicking and selecting "new"?  Or is THAT the wizard?
    LVL 77

    Expert Comment

    by:Rob Williams
    There is a whole console (web page) in SBS for managing users and computers.

    SBS is very different there are many wizards for configuring the server, networking, users, and joining computers.

    With SBS 2003, the procedure when joining a computer to the network is:
    -Create a computer account on the server by running a wizard located under the SBS console called Server Management | Computers | Set up Client computers  (this is not computer management as in server standard, which does exist on SBS).  
    *The wizard creates the computer account, assigns applications to it
    *determines if after joining the network the computer should be logged of or not
    *allows you to install the VPN client
    *allows you to install active sync on the client (no longer relative with Vista/Win7

    -You can then create a user account with another wizard.  That wizard allows toy to assign a user to a specific computer, if you wish, to perform some other customizations such as making the user an admin of that specific machine.

    -Then to join the computer to the network you use a browser and  http://SBSname/connectcomputer . This wizard does an incredible amount of configuration for the user.  As in the link I provided earlier:
    First, there's the whole server site setup that enables and configures
    dependencies and configuration options that connectcomputer functionality
    uses. Not discussed here, except to say that you'd have a virtually
    impossible task uncovering all of the pieces touched. And if you didn't use
    the SBS setup wizard, then you may as well hang up right now and fdisk.

    1. Checks Client OS and takes appropriate path (ATAP)
    2. Causes an activex control to become available.
    3. Determines whether the computer is or is not a member of the domain, and
    is or is not a DC or SBS server, (ATAP)
    4. Tests resolution to the SBS server (ATAP)
    5. Checks for multiple non VPN network connections (ATAP)
    6. Checks account permissions, allowed to join computer to domain?
    7. Assigns users, and migrates local profile(s), if they exist, to domain
    profile (SID mapping)
    8. Assigns requered local permissions to domain user account.
    9. Provides selection of computer name from list, automatically if there is
    one-to-one mapping of user/computer on the SBS.
    10. Joins the domain (creating a temp user account for autologon to ease the
    process) - including getting the client computer in the correct AD OU so the
    GP applies correctly.
    11. Sets some runonce reg keys to clean up after the above process.
    12. After required input is provided, steps through the above process,
    including automatic restarts as required.
    13. Now we are into Application Deployment (Susan shows some on her blog).
    This is seen on the workstation as the Client Setup Wizard, which is
    automatic on login after the above 12 main steps are complete.
    14. The list of configurations made after Application deployment:
    My network places
    TAPI information
    Connection Manager
    Fax Printer
    SSL Certificate
    ActiveSync (special, just for SBS and mobility devices)
    Additional global settings:
    DNS Timeout Value
    Deleted Item Recovey
    Remote Desktop permissions
    Network Printer(s)
    Disable getting started screen (annoying XP thing)
    Disable ICS
    (used to turn off ICF, but now handled by GP (xp firewall settings))
    Disables network bridging

    It is not possible to manualy configure all of this, thus if you do not use the wizard your system is not complete.  This still exists on SBS 2008/2011 but is much less important as most of the same tasks are performed by group policy

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