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DFS root folder shown as empty from just one specific workstation

Posted on 2014-03-13
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Last Modified: 2014-03-23
Hey all,

Windows 7 workstation is unable to access files via network share if they are accessed via DFS namespace. DFS namespace is hosted on Windows Server 2008 R servers (multiple). Seems to be Workstation issue and not the server-side issue (pls. see below)

- Share can be accessed without any issues if direct link to a server share is used.
E.g. \\server01\share1 can be accessed, but its mapping to \\domain.com\dfsroot\share1 is not accessible, because if you would open \\domain.com\dfsroot it is empty


- Logged on with domain administrator account to the affected PC
No changes.

- Accessed \\domain.com\dfsroot with the same domain administrator account on ANOTHER PC
Got a list of shares, all is fine.

- Tried flushing all caches on affected PC
nbtstat -RR
ipconfig /flushdns
dfsutil /pktflush
dfsutil /spcflush
No changes.

- Tried rebooting the PC
No changes

- Tried running dfsutil /pktinfo
Got a correct entry + the right target share marked as ACTIVE

All ideas to troubleshoot this issue are welcome :)
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Question by:thinkbot
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Expert Comment

by:chlebi
Comment Utility
Did you try to remove the PC from domain and join again?
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Author Comment

by:thinkbot
Comment Utility
Hi chlebi, thank you for an idea, haven't tried it before, only when you suggested.

This is how it went:

Removed the PC from domain and tried to join, got an error, never seen such before:

---------------------------
Computer Name/Domain Changes
---------------------------
Changing the Primary Domain DNS name of this computer to "" failed. The name will remain "sci.com".
The error was:
The specified server cannot perform the requested operation.
---------------------------
OK  
---------------------------

As suggested by one person here: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/windows/en-US/2b5a69ee-2aa1-4c04-817f-07b0cad1b005/changing-the-primary-domain-dns-name-of-this-computer-to-failed
I tried marking "Use this connection's DNS suffix in DNS registration". No luck with that.

I have checked that computer account was still present in AD. Removed the computer account, tried to rejoin (after making sure computer account is gone from all DCs which could be contacted). No luck.

Then I have returned the DNS suffix setting to what it was, changed primary DNS server to another one (which is also a DC), renamed the PC to a different name and successfully joined it to domain.

The primary problem of DFS shares not being accessible still remains though. I have tested with my domain admin account, and still the same thing, even \\domain.com\dfsroot is totally empty, no shares, just like before.

Any ideas?
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Expert Comment

by:chlebi
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Can you access the shares using \\dcname\dfs?
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Author Comment

by:thinkbot
Comment Utility
All DCs (which actually also provide File Services + DFS namespace hosting and thus host the shares) have an empty share if accessed via \\dcname\dfsroot folder. I have tried all our DCs with DFS enabled (have 4, all in different sites).

All of them are accessible just fine via \\dcname\dfsroot folder (you get the complete list of links to shares) from any other PC besides the one which has this issue.

Is there a way to enable some kind of debug level logging on that PC to help pinpoint the issue?
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Author Comment

by:thinkbot
Comment Utility
I was wrong to say it affects one PC. The thing is that it affects the whole subnet in our data center where we have this "PC" (which is VM with a client OS on a server). It appears that  \\domain.com\dfsroot folder seems empty from all Windows servers in that subnet, as I think they all access the same DC which hosts this DFS namespace.

\\domain.com\dfsroot seems empty even on the very same server which is DC/DFS server, so apparently issue is on that server. DFSUtil /pktinfo run directly on that server seems to return healthy values.

Tried flushing DFS cache

dfsutil cache domain flush

No luck yet.

Any ideas?
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Accepted Solution

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thinkbot earned 0 total points
Comment Utility
Short story  -

It appears there was an issue with DFS Namespace service on one of the servers. Contents of <drive>:\DFSRoots\dfsroot1 folder was empty on that server. Restarted the service and contents reappeared. And everythning started to work just fine.

Long story -

The situation got difficult to troubleshoot because it was very weird that some of the servers (even production systems) which rely on DFS shares continued to operate normally on the same subnet/site from the same DFS/File server. The reason for this was cache. If some share was already in use, it was in cache and thus worked fine.

dfsutil cache domain flush helped to understand that cache was involved as after issuing this command ALL DFS shares stopped working, even those that worked before.
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Author Closing Comment

by:thinkbot
Comment Utility
This is a functional workaround - restarting service which serves the purpose. Excellent solution would be to pinpoint the reason why restart of the service was needed and what caused that.
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