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Primary Domain Controller suck on "please wait for the group policy client"

Posted on 2014-04-09
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Last Modified: 2014-06-18
I've got a very new primary domain controller (Windows Server 2008 R2) experiencing a crucial issue.  I ran a Windows update today and restarted the server.  After restarting, the primary domain controller gets stuck for about 10 minutes saying "please wait for the group policy client".  The server eventually loads into Windows, however, the server's time is about 8 hours off and the active directory info is basically missing.  I checked the server's DNS and it points to itself only.  I then checked out the DNS service on the server and that doesn't work either, which explains the missing Active Directory info.  I have a backup domain controller, so I configured the NIC with that as the secondary DNS and DNS & Active Directory immediately restored.  

I've tried removing the DNS role and adding it back, but that didn't help.

Any ideas would be appreciated.  Thanks!
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Question by:SupermanTB
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by:Seth Simmons
ID: 39989362
the server's time is about 8 hours off

some services won't start if the time is skewed
is it configured to use an external time source?

How to configure an authoritative time server in Windows Server
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/816042
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by:Mahesh
ID: 39989375
the server's time is about 8 hours off and the active directory info is basically missing

can you please share some light on above comment, unable to understand please
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39989393
The server time was set to around 4:30 AM when it was in fact around 12:30pm. The server is a new installation and is on a VMware host. The time for the host was not set correctly and causing the aforementioned time problem. I adjusted the time on the VMware host which in turn caused the server to get set to the correct time. After doing this I am still experiencing the described issue.
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by:Mahesh
ID: 39989414
1st of all check if server is in correct time zone

Also if VMware tools is installed open it from system tray and disable host to guest time synchronization and then reboot the server once and check if it working properly
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39989446
Server is in the correct time zone. I will make the recommended changes and post results
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by:Mahesh
ID: 39989532
Ok
Once you done changes with VMware tools, then just run below command on virtual DC in elevated command prompt

net time \\PDC_server_IP /set /y

This will sync your server with PDC server and then probably you can take single reboot and check if every thing is running smooth on server
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39989542
The server in question is the PDC server
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by:Mahesh
ID: 39989572
Ok
Then no need to run above command, I should have looked this at question 1st

You can configure your server to sync with internet time server to get it time accurately

run below command on server:
w32tm /config /manualpeerlist: peers  /syncfromflags:manual /reliable:yes /update

where peers specifies the list of DNS names or IP addresses of the NTP time source that the PDC emulator synchronizes from. When specifying multiple peers, use a space as the delimiter and enclose them in quotation marks. For more information about the nearest NTP servers that you can use, see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/262680

For example, if there are multiple NTP servers you wanted to specify as below
a. ntp1.fabrikam.com
b. ntp.contoso.com
c. time.fineartschool.net

Then Run the following command:

w32tm /config /manualpeerlist:”ntp1.fabrikam.com ntp.contoso.com time.fineartschool.net” /reliable:yes /update

Open in new window


Check below article for complete info
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc786897(v=ws.10).aspx

Mahesh.
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39989612
We can certainly get into all that, but do you still think it's a time issue?  The time it's getting from the VMware Host is accurate and the issue is still happening.  I do understand that all sorts of things can go wrong when time is out of whack, but the time can't be more than 60 seconds off at this point.
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by:Mahesh
ID: 39989651
Once you logged on server just check how much time skew is there ?

Also run dcdiag /v on the server so that we can find out if issue is any thing else ?

Mahesh.
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by:DrDave242
ID: 39989664
I have a backup domain controller, so I configured the NIC with that as the secondary DNS and DNS & Active Directory immediately restored.
Does that mean things are working now? I'm asking because this is the recommended configuration (or at least close to it): your DNS servers should point to each other as well as themselves, as long as you've got more than one.

I generally recommend configuring each DNS server to use another server (in the same site) as its preferred server and itself as the alternate. This way, whenever one of the DCs is rebooted, its preferred DNS server will already be up and running, allowing it to process Group Policy immediately rather than first waiting for its own DNS Server service to start.
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by:Mahesh
ID: 39989720
This is not true

If you have DNS role installed on domain controller, you must point its own IP (not 127.0.0.1) to itself in preferred DNS settings and alternate you can point to another server in same site (ADC) or if you don't have another in same site you could point it to PDC

Because since all domain controllers are authoritative for that domain and domain dns zone, each must be point to itself in primary dns configuration
So that DNS server will try to resolve query with itself own DNS entries and if he do not found any thing then it will look for other options
There are other  options for resolving those queries which he cannot resolve
such as setting up forwarders, conditional forwarders, secondary zones etc

There is no point to route queries to another DC by setting up another DNS server address in his network card preferred dns entry

Mahesh.
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39989725
Mahesh:  Right now everything is setup with the backup DC as the secondary DNS server, so the time is fine.  However, after changing the time on the Vitrual Host and booting up the server, I experienced the same issue.  When it eventually logged in, the time could not have been off by more than 60 seconds.

DrDave242:  Things are working now as the DNS is essentially feeding off the backup DC.  If I remove the backup DC as the secondary DNS server, it fails because DNS is non functional on the primary DC.  While it is definitely good that everything is up and running, I need to get the DNS working on the primary DC.  Otherwise if the backup DC fails for some reason, then I'm really toast.
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39989733
Thanks for your input Mahesh on having domain controllers pointing to each other for DNS.

For the time being, I've got the primary DC pointing to itself for DNS and to the backup DC as the secondary for the sole purpose of bypassing this issue.

Any ideas on what troubleshooting steps I might take next?
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by:DrDave242
ID: 39989760
Because since all domain controllers are authoritative for that domain and domain dns zone, each must be point to itself in primary dns configuration
The second point doesn't follow logically from the first. Since all DCs running DNS are authoritative for the zone, why would a given DC need to look at itself first? They should all have the same data if replication is working correctly.

If you can provide a link to something from Microsoft that backs up your statement, I'll concede the point, but until then, I have to disagree.

SupermanTB: Does the DNS Server service start correctly on the DC with the problem?
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39989784
It does when I have the secondary DNS pointed to the backup DC.  If I don't do that, then the DNS gives me errors when I try to open.
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by:DrDave242
ID: 39989804
Are there any recent errors in the Directory Service or DNS Server event logs of the problematic DC?
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39989890
Event ID 4013:

“The DNS server is waiting for Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) to signal that the initial synchronization of the directory has been completed. The DNS server service cannot start until the initial synchronization is complete because critical DNS data might not yet be replicated onto this domain controller. If events in the AD DS event log indicate that there is a problem with DNS name resolution, consider adding the IP address of another DNS server for this domain to the DNS server list in the Internet Protocol properties of this computer. This event will be logged every two minutes until AD DS has signaled that the initial synchronization has successfully completed.
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39989902
Event ID:  2092

This server is the owner of the following FSMO role, but does not consider it valid. For the partition which contains the FSMO, this server has not replicated successfully with any of its partners since this server has been restarted. Replication errors are preventing validation of this role.
Operations which require contacting a FSMO operation master will fail until this condition is corrected.
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by:DrDave242
ID: 39989921
Sounds like you've got replication issues. Run repadmin /showrepl from an elevated command prompt on the DC with the problem. The output should tell you whether or not the most recent replication attempt was successful, and if not, how long it's been since the last successful attempt.
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39989974
Repadmin: running command /showrepl against full DC localhost

Default-First-Site-Name\NEW-SERVER

DSA Options: IS_GC

Site Options: (none)

DSA object GUID: d2f5c481-42fe-473e-9cc8-23ac793536a1

DSA invocationID: 2a620d4b-ad4d-4048-aab7-b773fa3e7ba5
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39989979
There was also a neighbors section with a bit of information.  It had the backup DC listed as well as the old primary DC that is currently another backup DC.  I've yet to demote the old domain controller.  Was planning on doing that in the next few days.
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by:Mahesh
ID: 39989995
if you could please run dcdiag /v on failing DC and share output here
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by:DrDave242
ID: 39990005
That "Inbound Neighbors" section is where the replication results are listed. They're broken out by application partition and by inbound replication partner. Are there any failures shown there?
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39990012
Here's the DCDiag results.  Please keep in mind that this was done when the server was "working" with the backup DC as the secondary DNS.

.
dcdiag-good.txt
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39990013
No errors listed in the neighbors section
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by:DrDave242
ID: 39990023
If you run net share on the problematic DC and on the other one, do they both show that the SYSVOL and NETLOGON shares are there?
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39990038
They both show those folders.  I don't remember of the problem DC showed those folders when experiencing the problem.  In 15 minutes, users will be gone and I can remove the backup DC from the secondary DNS and do some more testing.
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by:Mahesh
ID: 39990105
You can try resetting affected domain controller account and check if it works
Check below link for step by step
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/325850

Also check domain system volume folder under domain.com\system\file replication service container in active directory and ensure that server name and computer column both showing same name for all DCs

also go to DNS and under _msdcs.domain.com check CNAME records for all DCs are exists and if you ping them , they are resolving to correct IP addresses

Mahesh
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39990132
Ok, I've got the primary DC to a point where I can test while experiencing the error.  All users are off.  Anything you want me to do?
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39990281
While I was waiting to hear from you guys, I read a PAQ that experienced this same issue.  They solved it by demoting and then promoting the server.  I did that and am experiencing the same issue.  I'm perplexed.
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by:DrDave242
ID: 39990311
Which server did you demote and promote?
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39990313
the primary domain controller.  Before doing so, I transferred the 5 roles to another DC
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by:DrDave242
ID: 39990324
Will the DNS service still not start on that server? If not, what error does it give when you try to start it?
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39990357
When I launch DNS, it says the server could not be contacted and then asks me which server I want to connect to.  I tell it to connect to this server and click Ok.  It eventually send me to a blank DNS page with the name of the server and no entries.
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by:DrDave242
ID: 39990358
Ah, OK. Check the Services console (services.msc) on that server to see whether the DNS Server service is running.
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39990361
It looks like I've found out some new information.  While trying to launch the DNS service, I notice the DNS error in the logs saying that it's waiting for the initial Active Directory synchronization to complete.  So I just waited about 5 minutes.  Eventually DNS and Active Directory started working.
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by:DrDave242
ID: 39990375
Does that mean everything is working properly now? It's odd in any case that the initial synchronization took that long, but if it's working, it's working.

I definitely recommend demoting that third DC soon, if you're not using it.
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39990376
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39990379
It is working, but the problem is not solved.  When the server boots, it has to sit at the "please wait for the group policy client" screen for 5 minutes.  Once the server progresses into Windows, it's another 5 minutes before AD synchronizes & DNS starts functioning.  That's just not going to work for a primary DC.  It shouldn't take that long.

Interestingly, the link I posted above experienced the same exact issue.
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by:DrDave242
ID: 39992171
If the primary DC is configured to point only to itself for DNS (with no alternate DNS servers configured), is it able to resolve names at all? Are you able to successfully ping machines inside and outside your network by name?
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39992213
Right now, yes.  The machine is up and running with AD synced.  When the machine first starts up and I log in, I doubt I would be able to ping anything.
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by:DrDave242
ID: 39992269
When the machine first starts up and I log in, I doubt I would be able to ping anything.
I'd say you're right, because the DNS Server service on that DC won't start after a reboot until the initial AD sync has completed. That's normal behavior, but what I don't get is why the initial sync takes so long to complete. Just to make sure I'm clear, if the problem DC uses the other DC for DNS, either as its preferred or alternate server, it boots up quickly, correct?
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39992287
Correct
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by:DrDave242
ID: 39992419
OK, good. Since that's the case, this article appears to be relevant. It's fairly long, and not all of it has to do with your issue, but the "Cause" section lists potential causes of slow startup related to initial synchronization, including the following:

Configuring a DNS server hosting AD-integrated DNS zones whose copy of Active Directory contains knowledge of other domain controllers in the forest to point to itself exclusively for DNS name resolution

Whether or not the other DC should be configured as the preferred or alternate DNS server may be up for debate, but it should definitely be listed there somewhere.
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by:Mahesh
ID: 39992486
You must be having Domain controller stale records in DNS some where in forwarders , conditional forwarders, NS records, CNAME, Host (A) records, blank records (Same as parent folder) under domain.com which causing your DNS is failing on affected DC
Please check thoroughly on both domain controllers in _msdcs.domain.com and domain.com and also in Hosts file as well


Need to carefully check DNS zones, Hosts files and network card properties on all servers

Also check from both domain controllers if CNAME record that is present in _msdcs.domain.com are resolving to correct IP addresses from all Domain controllers

Dave, the article provided is really very useful, however with this scenario I don't think there are much domain controllers (Hub and branch like scenario) and it is most of stale records some where

Mahesh.
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39992804
When I look at the DNS, under the Forward Lookup Zone and under domain.com, I see a NS that I don't recognize and is definitely no longer part of the network.  It is for server.domainname.com.  Except that it actually says the word "server" for the name of the name server.  The timestamp on is back in 2011, before my time.  I've never seen or heard of this server.  I see this same server.domainname.com in the _msdcs folder under domain.com as well.  

Thoughts?
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by:Mahesh
ID: 39992818
If you are certain that dns entry is not in use, not able to ping and obsolete, just delete that entry from all dns servers
Find out any other stale entries pertaining to DC and remove them
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 39992821
It's definitely not in use anywhere.  I've never heard of that server.  I'll remove them and see how things go.
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 40007972
I haven't forgotten about this.  I've got to wait until a time when I can restart the server a few times without interrupting the users.  I hope to be able to test over the weekend.
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 40017067
Ok, so on the primary DC I deleted all the entries in the DNS for the phantom server.  After doing that and restarting the computer, I've still got the same problem.
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 40017069
The DNS error logs are still saying waiting for active directory synchronization.
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by:DrDave242
ID: 40051283
Those errors only appear when the affected DC uses only itself for DNS, right?  If so, is there a reason why it can't be configured to use both itself and the other DC for DNS? If you want to verify that DNS is working on the affected DC, configure it to use itself and the other DC for DNS and reboot it. It should complete the initial sync quickly, from what we've seen before. After it does so, remove the other DC's address from its list of DNS servers, flush the resolver cache with the ipconfig /flushdns command, and check to see if you can still resolve names using ping or nslookup.
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 40054831
Yes, i only get the error when the DC uses itself for DNS.  The reason I don't want to use itself & the other server is that if the other server fails, then I've got a problem on my hands.  I'd like to fix the issue.
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by:DrDave242
ID: 40055112
The reason I don't want to use itself & the other server is that if the other server fails, then I've got a problem on my hands.

But in the current configuration, don't you already have the same problem on your hands, even though no servers have failed? This is because the delayed startup issue is a direct result of that configuration. The article that I linked above, though quite wordy, explains the issue in the Cause section:
Domain controllers whose copy of Active Directory contains references to other domain controllers in the forest try to inbound replicate all locally held directory partitions during Windows startup as part of an initial synchronization or "init sync."

In an attempt to boot with the latest DNS zone contents, Microsoft DNS servers hosting AD-integrated copies of DNS zones delay DNS service startup for some number of minutes after Windows startup unless Active Directory has completed its initial synchronization during Windows startup.
In other words, if a DC is aware that there is at least one other DC in the forest, it will prevent its own DNS Server service from starting after a reboot until the initial synchronization is performed or a certain amount of time has expired. If that DC uses only itself for DNS, it can't possibly perform that initial synchronization, because it has no available DNS servers to use to locate the other DCs.

It's a catch-22: no intial sync means no DNS Server service, and no DNS Server service means no initial sync. Eventually the delay timer will expire, the server will allow its DNS Server service to start, and the DC will then be able to locate the other DCs in the forest. The Resolution section of the same article states the following:
Domain controllers hosting AD-integrated DNS zones should not point to a single domain controller and especially only to themselves as preferred DNS for name resolution.
There's really no way to make this work without configuring the DC to use itself and the other DC for DNS. The only time a DC should use only itself for DNS is when it's the sole DC in the forest. In that situation, Windows knows to skip the initial sync because there's nothing to sync with.

That article also mentions a registry change that will allow the server to boot without performing the initial sync, but it clearly states that this change should only be made in a critical situation (for example, the other DC is down and you need this one up immediately) and should be undone as soon as possible.
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Author Comment

by:SupermanTB
ID: 40059496
Thanks for the detailed post.  I understand everything you wrote in there.  Currently I have the DNS for this trouble DC pointing to the backup DC.  I only make the change to have it point to itself when I need to troubleshoot this problem.  As I'm sure you'd agree, it's better for me to have the trouble DC setup to point to the functioning backup DC until this problem is resolved.  

Ideally I need a functioning primary DC and backup DC.  Right now if my backup DC fails, I'm back to where I started.  So I suppose we're backup to how I can remove this phantom domain controller that is somehow causing problems in my primary DC?
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by:DrDave242
ID: 40060319
So I suppose we're backup to how I can remove this phantom domain controller that is somehow causing problems in my primary DC?
Are you referring to those records you recently removed from DNS? If so, that may be all that was left of it. If you want to be sure there are no bits of an old DC hanging around in AD, follow the steps in the old metadata cleanup article as far as step 12 (in the Windows Server 2003 SP1 or later section). If the output of step 12 includes a DC that you know doesn't exist anymore, go ahead and follow the rest of the steps to remove it. If only your current DCs are listed, those are the only ones remaining in AD; simply exit from Ntdsutil at that point, and nothing will be modified.
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 40060335
I was referring to those records I recently removed.  I'll run that metadata cleanup on the primary DC and let you know how it goes.  Thanks very much for your assistance.
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 40128781
I must have dropped the ball on this.  I do have an update though.  I just experienced this problem with another server for a different company.  They have two domain controllers.  The primary domain controller is a physical server with few resources in need of replacement.  I installed a more robust server, running ESXi 5.5.  I used VM Ware Converter to convert the physical machine into an virtual machine.  Once everything converted, I powered down the physical machine and powered up the virtual machine.  For some reason, I'm experiencing this same exact problem as this server we've been working on.   I didn't make any other changes to the server environment.  I just virtualized that physical server.

Thoughts?
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by:DrDave242
ID: 40131206
It could be a number of things, but simply virtualizing the DC shouldn't cause that issue. It was likely present before the DC was virtualized. Since it only shows up when a DC is rebooted, the issue can go on for a long time before anyone becomes aware of it.
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Author Comment

by:SupermanTB
ID: 40131238
I agree that simply virtualizing it shouldn't cause that problem but it is certainly very curious. This new problem server is one that I am in and out of extremely frequently. You get your started on a very regular basis and there has been no inkling of this problem. I only experienced it once I virtualized.
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by:DrDave242
ID: 40140017
Are there any improperly removed DCs in that domain (i.e., DCs that were removed from the network without first being demoted, or that have crashed permanently and haven't since been removed from AD via metadata cleanup)?
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by:SupermanTB
ID: 40140073
There was a server, likely a DC that was improperly removed.  See the post from 4-10 at 17:14.  That server predated me, so I'm only assuming it was a DC.  I removed that server from the DNS everywhere I could find it.  Are there other steps I need to go through to remove that server?
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by:DrDave242
ID: 40140174
I was referring to the other company's environment, although you should perform the metadata cleanup procedure (linked above) if you haven't yet done so.
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Author Comment

by:SupermanTB
ID: 40140719
Hey DrDave.  First, I really appreciate all the help.  You're going above and beyond for sure.  I wish I had more than 500 points.  I've got some more information.  I've experienced this problem again with a new client and this one will likely be the most simple to troubleshoot because I literally built everything from scratch.

All of the equipment in this scenario is brand new.  This is for a new business, so there are no pre-existing servers, domains, etc.  I've got two physical boxes, both running VMWare.  Box 1 has a primary DC along with a file server and Box 2 has a backup DC along with a utility server.  I've done the Windows updates and literally nothing else.  I created the domain on the primary DC, which is pointed to itself for DNS.  I joined the other three servers to the domain and then promoted the backup DC.  It is currently pointed to the primary DC for DNS.  I ran some windows updates on the primary DC and restarted.  I believe this was the first time I restarted that primary DC since promoting the backup DC.  When I restarted, my primary DC experienced this issue.

Thoughts?
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DrDave242 earned 500 total points
ID: 40140871
Yep, it's the same issue, and there's only one solution: configure both DCs to use each other for DNS in addition to themselves (which will require adding the DNS Server role to the second DC if you didn't do so during promotion).

In the current configuration, with both DCs using only the first DC for DNS, only the first DC will experience the issue. This is because the second DC's DNS server will already be up and running when it reboots (unless both DCs are rebooted at the same time, which is never a good idea), so it will be able to resolve the name of the first DC and complete the initial sync quickly.

When the first DC reboots, however, its DNS server (itself) will not be up and running, because its own DNS Server service won't start until the initial sync completes. The initial sync won't be able to complete, though, because it can't resolve the name of the second DC without a running DNS server. This catch-22 situation may continue for quite a while, though there's apparently a timer that will eventually expire, which will permit the DNS Server service to start without the initial sync having been performed.
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Author Closing Comment

by:SupermanTB
ID: 40143126
Thanks so much for all your assistance with this issue.  I wish I had more points to give you!
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