We couldn’t create a new partition or locate an existing one.

Good afternoon.  I ran into an issue today I have seen quite a few times.  I had a customer that was trying to load Windows 2012 on a server.  No matter what he tried he would always receive the same error.

“We couldn’t create a new partition or locate an existing one.”
partition error.png

At first glance it might seem like there is an issue with the disk.  That is not the case though.  The problem has to do with the boot priority as setup in the BIOS of the system.  In this case my customer had a Dell server with an SD card.  He had ordered the server with ESXi loaded on the SD card.  Therefore Dell had put the SD card at the top of the boot priority when it was configured at the factory.  The raid controller was second in the boot priority.  The reason this is a problem is that Windows setup needs to create or use an existing partition on the first device in the boot priority.  Compounding the issue is that, when using the setup, Windows can only be loaded on a fixed disk.  Therefore the error is due to the inability to create a system reserved partition for the boot loader files.

Keep in mind this issue can happen on any system that has more than one entry in the boot priority.  For instance, I have also seen this problem when there were multiple hard disk controllers in a server and the wrong one is at the top of the list.

The fix is quite simple.  Go into the bios and change the boot priority to put the device that will have Windows loaded on it at the top.

I hope you have found this article informative.  If you have anything to add, please use the comments section below.

Why are my computers not showing up on the Network in Windows explorer?

I ran across an interesting issue this morning.  I had a customer who was not able to browse for computers on most of his workstations and servers.  The problem seemed to start within the last two weeks.

I checked the workstation, DNS client, network list, and network location awareness services.  They were all running.  The problem turned out to be the Function Discovery Resource Publication service.  This service was not started and was set to manual.  Without this service the computer will not advertise itself and will not be able to discover other computers on the network.

So if no computers are showing in Network in Windows Explorer check the Function Discovery Resource Publication service and verify it is running.  I would also recommend setting it to Automatic start so that everything works correctly after a reboot.

I hope this article has been informative.  If you have anything to add, please use the comments section below.

Where are my file shares?

Good morning.  I ran into an issue I see from time to time in support.  One of my customers was unable to find where his shares were located on the filesystem.  The solution is quite easy to solve with a single command.

Net Share

Running that command will display all shares on the server including hidden and administrative shares along with their paths.  This command will work in any version of Windows and does not require elevation.

I hope you found this article informative.  If you have anything to add, please do so by adding a comment below.

Why is my network profile stuck on Public?

Good morning.  A quick tip for today on an issue I run into from time to time.  I have seen a lot of Windows machines in my time.  One of the problems that I run into on a fairly regular basis is network communication issues.  A possible cause for these issues can be due to the Windows firewall being too restrictive.  That is what we are going to discuss today in this post.

Before we get into how to fix the network profile, let’s first discuss why the network profile even matters.  To do that we need to talk about the Windows firewall a little.  The Windows firewall provides a barrier between the Windows operating system and the network(s) to which it is attached.  It has 2 or 3 distinct profiles that it will operate in.  Whether it has 2 or 3 depends on if the system is joined to an Active Directory domain.  Each These 3 profiles are as follows:

  • Public – Windows assumes it is directly connected to the Internet or is on an unsafe or unfamiliar network.  This profile is the most restrictive and blocks most incoming traffic.
  • Private – Windows assumes this network is isolated from the Internet and is considered mostly safe.  This profile allows more traffic than the public profile, but some services are still blocked by default.
  • Domain – Windows assumes the network is trusted.  This profile is the least restrictive and by default allows most known services through.

As you probably already guessed the profile used by the Windows firewall correlates directly with the network profile assigned to the network adapter.  So if your network profile shows Public you can bet that almost all services will not work.

Now that we know about the profiles and what they do, how can we change the network profile.  If this were a client operating system like Windows 8/8.1/10 then it would be easy, just go into Network and Sharing Center and change the profile.  On a server operating system, for instance Windows Server 2012/2012R2/2016, the option to change the profile is not there.  That is, unless you count the side pop-out asking if you want to discover computers on the network.  Clicking yes on that pop-out will put the network profile into private.  Clicking no will put it into public.

If you clicked no, there is still hope.  There is a PowerShell command that can be used to set the network profile; Set-NetConnectionProfile.  Here is the command I use to quickly change the mode of all network cards in a system.

Get-NetConnectionProfile | Set-NetConnectionProfile -NetworkCategory Private

This will set all network cards to Private profile.

If you need to set just one network card, you will need to know the interface index.  To find this run the following command.

Get-NetConnectionProfile | FT Name,InterfaceAlias,InterfaceIndex -a

This will give a table of all the network adapters in the server with their names and indexes.  You can then run the following command to set a single network adapter

Set-NetConnectionProfile -InterfaceIndex <index number> -NetworkCategory Private

I hope you found this article helpful.  If you have anything to add or just want to leave a comment, please do so below.

 

Group Policy and the case of the missing permission.

Good morning.  I had a case yesterday that yielded several interesting article ideas.  This is probably the most interesting one, and I have seen this very issue on at least three occasions.  The issue started on a domain rename.  If you have ever done a domain rename, you know there are quite a few steps.  After doing some checks and making some corrections we were able to complete the domain rename.  My customer then advised that his Folder Redirection policy was not applying on any workstations.  So in this article I am going to cover how to troubleshoot a group policy not applying and the specific fix for the situation I ran into yesterday.

The first step when troubleshooting just about any group policy issue is to pull a group policy report from a client that should be getting the policy.  My preferred method is to go to a command prompt and run the following commands:

gpresult /h report.htm
report.htm

This will run the report and save it to a file called report.htm.  The second line then opens that report in a web browser.

When troubleshooting an issue where a policy is not applying I like to focus on the denied sections.  In our case folder redirection is a user policy, so I checked there.  Below is similar to what I found.
gpo-inaccessible

There were two clues as to what the issue was here.  The first clue is that the policy name is not being displayed.  Instead we just see the GUID (Globally Unique Identifier).  The second clue is the reason denied.  We can see it was denied because the policy is inaccessible, empty or disabled.

The next step was to check to see if the policy was accessible in the SYSVOL share.  In our case we had no problem accessing the files.  We then checked in the group policy management console.  We verified the policy was not empty or disabled.  So it would appear that we have eliminated all possible issues.  However there is another set of permissions.

delegation-tab

This was the set of permissions that were not correct in our case.  The Authenticated Users group was missing.  I have seen this issue on several occasions when one of my customers is trying to “lock down” the server.  Even if you add in another group, for instance Domain Users, and the user and/or computer is a member of that group, the GPO (Group Policy Object) will still fail to apply.  The fix is quite simple.  Add back the Authenticated Users group and give it read permissions.  After adding back Authenticated Users and running a gpupdate /force on the client the policy applied without issue.

I hope you have found this informative.  If you have anything to add or just want to comment, please do so below.

The Software Protection Service, part 2

Good morning.  I ran into an interesting issue this morning that I wanted to share.  I have seen this particular problem on several occasions, but a Google search comes up empty.  So I had a customer this morning that was seeing activation issues in 2012 R2.  More specifically, he was unable to make any changes with slmgr.vbs.  In case you were not aware, slmgr.vbs is the command line tool to enter/remove product keys and get information about activation status.

I started troubleshooting this by running the MGADiag (Microsoft Genuine Advantage Diagnostic) tool*.  I was specifically looking for this line: OEMID and OEMTableID Consistent: yes.  This indicates that the server can use an OEM SLP key.  So that ruled out that as a possible issue.

I then wanted to find out why the Software Protection Service was reporting Windows is not activated.  I ran the command: slmgr /dlv.  This command will display licensing information with full verbosity.  The command threw an error though.
slmgr-dlv-error

When running slue.exe 0x2a 0x8007041D, I received the following message:
slmgr-dlv-error-extended

So it appears that the Software Protection Service is not starting.  I confirmed this in the System Event log.
spp-not-starting

Now the big question.  Why is the Software Protection Service not starting?  To determine this I ran a filter on the event viewer to only show me event ID 7000 errors.  I then scrolled to the first event.  In this case the event was first recorded on 12/5/2016.  My next stop was Programs and Features.  It was no surprise that installed on the same day the problem started was SEP (Symantec Endpoint Protection).  I say this as I have seen SEP cause a multitude of issues on server operating systems.  I point out SEP because it is the most common.  I have also seen numerous other security software packages cause problems.  In our case we removed SEP and rebooted.  After the reboot Windows is now reporting that it is activated.

I hope this post has been informative for you.  If you have anything to add or you see any errors please post in the comments below.

 

*I ran into a really good blog article after working on this issue.  It turns out the MGADiag tool is only designed for Windows 7/2008R2.  While it will run on higher version of OSes, there is now a built-in tool.  Thanks to John D over at johndstech.com for posting this.

 

How to upgrade Windows Server Essentials to Standard edition

Time for another quick tip.  In case you hadn’t guessed already, I really like Essentials.  You get quite a few features for a much better price than Standard edition.  There are some limitations though with Essentials.  The good news is that the server can later be upgraded to Standard and the process only takes a few minutes.  On the flip side, a standard license has to be purchased.

Let’s walk through the upgrade process.

  1. Purchase a Windows Server Standard license
  2. Open an administrative PowerShell command
  3. Run the following command to verify the target edition:
    dism /online /Get-TargetEditions
    You should see Target Edition : ServerStandard or something similar
  4. Run the following command to complete the upgrade:
    dism /online /Set-Edition:ServerStandard /ProductKey:XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX
    Change the edition and product key to match the ones you have.

You should see output similar to below.  Reboot when prompted.

upgrade-to-standard

I hope you found this informative.  If you have any comments or suggestions, please leave them below.