How To Fix Non Starting SQL Reporting Services

The SQL Server Reporting Services … service failed to start due to the following error:  The service did not respond to the start or control request in a timely fashion.

Sound familiar? It was a problem I was having with a couple of SQL Server 2008 R2 machines built on VMWare 5.1 hosts. The SQL Server Reporting Services don’t start automatically on reboot and won’t start when manually instigated.

Fortunately it can be easily remedied by increasing the default service time-out:

  • Open Regedit
  • Navigate to: KEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control
  • Create a new DWORD value called ServicesPipeTimeout
  • Modify it and ensure it is set to Decimal and enter the value 60000
  • Close Regedit and reboot the server

Note: Incorrect modification of the registry can lead to serious problems, please be careful. For protection it’s worth taking a backup of the registry before hand.

If this does not work then you may have a more serious issue, if this is the first time you have tried to start the service then double check you have met the prerequisites for installation and have it configured correctly.


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How To Backup/Restore An Active Directory Integrated DNS Zone

Whenever you make a fundamental change to a DNS zone it’s a good idea to back it up, but how do you do that when your DNS is Active Directory Integrated without taking a system state backup? We’ll take a look at both AD integrated and standalone methods to get a better understanding.

Non-AD integrated (Standalone) DNS:

If you’re running standalone DNS and simply have a Primary/Secondary setup then performing this style of backup is really very simple.  As standard DNS zone file information is stored in the %systemroot%\system32\dns folder (typically C:\Windows\System32\dns). When the DNS service starts it simply loads the dones from these files, likewise when a change is made it creates a backup and places it in the backup folder on the aforementioned path. It’s worth noting that only one backup is maintained so if you make another change the previous backup is overwritten, therefore if you make a sideways copy of these backups you can keep a version as long as you need.

AD Integrated Zones:

As AD integrated zones are stored within the Active Directory they do not have  any files associated with them and therefore are not backed up to the backup directory. So how do we get it out? Using DnsCmd.exe is how!

The Microsoft example of a zone export is as follows:

dnscmd [] /zoneexport 

This looks great but here it is in a more useful looking format:

DnsCmd DNSserver1 /ZoneExport

Note that the backup file you have created will land in %systemroot%\System32\dns

How to restore AD Integrated Zones:

Warning: You should only attempt to restore this file as a last resort as it could impact your users especially then allowing for replication to the DNS holding DC’s.

  • Hop onto the DNS Management Console and delete the zone
  • Rename your zone backup to have a .dns extension, in the example above this would go from to
  • Create a new zone with the FQDN of the zone you deleted, if using the New Zone Wizard be sure to uncheck the Store in Active Directory option.
  • When prompted to create a new zone file or use an existing file, choose an existing file, the wizard should automatically fill in the zone FQDN with the .dns extension, this should look the same as your renamed zone file (
  • Complete the wizard
  • Check the zone information is as per the zone before the changes
  • If all is well, simply change the zone type to Active Directory Integrated.

Job done.

How To Clean Up C:\Windows\Winsxs

So you’ve been taking a look at what’s eating your hard drive space with WinDirStat or TreeSizeFree or similar and have spotted the C:\Windows\Winsxs folder.

Winsxs stands for Windows Side by Side and is basically where Windows keeps multiple versions of the same .dll’s to allow multiple applications to run without any compatibility problems. If you browse it you’ll see what looks like a lot of duplicate .dll files. I’m not going to go into the in’s and out’s of it here as there are plenty of good run through pages on the web.

What I will do is give you the easy and safe way to clear it down.

From the C:\Windows\System32 folder run:

DISM /online /Cleanup-Image /SpSuperseded


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How To Find Your Local NTP Server

So, you get on site and no one knows where their NTP server is, there’s a quick and easy way to find out.

The old schoolers will tell you to use the net time commmand, but this was deprecated and is no longer recommended for use by Microsoft.

If you still want to use it or you’re on a Windows Server 2000 box

  • Open up a command prompt
  • Type: net time /query \\serveryouwanttoquery

If you’re on anything newer:

  • Open up a command prompt
  • Type: w32tm /query /computer:computeryouwanttoquery /source
  • If you’re having trouble w32tm.exe is found in “C:\Windows\System32″.

W32tm.exe is a powerful little tool that not only allows you to check the basic status but also completely configure the NTP server/service to whatever your heart desires. For more, check out this technet article over at the Microsoft site.


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Backing up Zone Files in Windows Server 2008 DNS Zone

Someone asked me to turn re-use an old server from having a catalog installed to just hosting primary DNS zones. So before I make this Active directory integrated DNS server to just a primary or do anything worthwhile I wanted to backup the zones. How?

First stop the DNS service by doing this command at the cmd prompt “net stop “DNS Server”

Next, just create a separate copy of the “%WinDir%\System32\dns” in my case C:\Windows\System32\dns directory that contains flat files (text files) of your zones. There are also some samples inside this directory, not required to be included.

Lastly is start the DNS service again by doing “net start “DNS Server”

To restore it just stop the DNS service, copy your backup back to the above directory then start the DNS service again and the zones are restored :D

I found my first hint on how to do this here:


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Configure Windows Server 2008’s Server Manager for remote server connections

Configure Windows Server 2008’s Server Manager for remote server connections

Summary: Windows Server 2008’s Server Manager console allows for remote administration of Windows servers. Rick Vanover offers preparation steps for using the console.

When I first saw beta versions of Windows Server 2008, I immediately noticed the Server Manager console. It is quite different from the Windows NT version of Server Manager, but it’s still extremely important to Windows Server.

Above all else, the new Server Manager is the administration console of choice for Windows Server Core installations.

Server Manager is not just for Core installations–it can also be useful for everyday administration; however, the default Windows installation may not let Server Manager perform remote administration from the start. Figure A shows the error message you may get when trying to remotely manage another Windows Server.

Figure A 

The fix is on the remote machine to run the winrm quickconfig command and answer the prompt to confirm the permission to allow remote management connections (Figure B).

Figure B 

The next step is that IIS needs to be installed on the destination server.

There are pros and cons to adding this role simply for remote administration. This is another surface area (additional running service) vulnerability, as it is a service that would need to be patched and configured. On the other hand, using Server Manager for remote administration would mean that administrators are logging onto a server directly for fewer things.

Server Manager is clearly the best way to administer remote servers for Windows Server 2008 Core installations, as the console is not available, but it is tough to make a general recommendation for other installs. IIS is typically reserved for Web servers, but many applications such as SQL Server and other popular titles now use the Web engine for internal functions as a requirement.

For the full installations of Windows, the surface area exposure for IIS is a consideration to mull against your requirements and operational preferences.

Rick Vanover is an IT infrastructure manager for Alliance Data in Columbus, Ohio. He has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration and system hardware.

Troubleshooting Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Startup Issues (Part 1 and Part 2)

This article discusses the basics of troubleshooting failed system services, including verifying an error message and tracking down information in the event logs.

If you would like read the next part of this article series please go to Troubleshooting Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Startup Issues (Part 2).


Troubleshooting a service failure can sometimes be a frustrating experience. Thankfully, there are some techniques that you can use to get to the cause of the problem and get your server up and running relatively quickly. In this article, I want to discuss various techniques that you can use to troubleshoot service failures.

Before I Begin

Before I get started, I just want to quickly mention that all of the screen shots presented in this article series are based on Windows Server 2008 R2. Even so, most of these techniques will work on other versions of Windows as well. The exact steps may not always match up perfectly from one operating system to another, but the basic concepts are relevant across the board.

Verify the Failure

Even though it sounds silly, the very first thing that you should do when you see an error message sighting a service failure is to verify that the error is accurate. I have seen several real world examples of buggy application of the report service failures when the services is actually running. Likewise, it is very common to see an error message when Windows is booted indicating that one or more services have failed to start. This message is often erroneous.

To verify a service failure, you need to open the Service Control Manager by selecting the Services command from the Administrative Tools menu. The Service Control Manager lists every service that is installed on the machine, as well as the services current state. You can see with the Service Control Manager looks like in Figure A.

Figure A: The Services console displays all of the system services.

If the error message that you have received relates to a specific service then you can simply locate the service within the Service Control Manager (services are arranged alphabetically) and check to see whether or not the service is started. If on the other hand you have received a generic error message stating that one or more services failed to start then you need to look to find out whether or not the services that should be running really are.

As you look at the figure above, you might notice that not all of the services are running. This is normal and has to do with the service’s startup type. Windows offers four different startup types for services (some of the older versions of Windows only use three startup types). These include:

Automatic – Services with a startup type of Automatic should start automatically when Windows is booted.

Automatic (Delayed Start) – Automatic services that are configured with the delayed start wait until all of the other automatic services have started before they begin initializing. Even at that, automatic services that use a delayed start use a low priority thread to ensure that the server remains responsive while the services are starting.

Manual – Services that are configured to start manually do not start unless they are instructed to do so either by you, by the operating system, or by an application.

Disabled – If a service is disabled it will not start even if you attempt to manually start the service. Some services are disabled for security reasons, but there are also documented instances of malware disabling system services in order to prevent them from running. If you need to start a disabled service, you can do so by changing the startup type to either Manual or Automatic (or Automatic Delayed Start) and then starting the service.

If you are trying to determine whether or not the necessary services are running, then simply scroll through the list of services and make sure that every service that has a startup type of Automatic or Automatic Delayed Start is running. If a service is configured to run automatically, but is not started the mess services likely the cause of the error.

Manually Start the Service

If you notice that a service that should be running is not running, then the first thing that you should do is to attempt to manually start the service. To do so, just right click on the service and choose the Start command from the resulting shortcut menu. Often times, the service will start without any problems.

Check the Event Log

So what you do if you attempt to manually start a system service, but it does not start? The first thing that I recommend doing in such situations is to check the Event Viewer. In most cases when a service fails to start, one or more event log entries will be created. These log entries can be invaluable in helping you to determine the root cause of the problem.

The location in which the event log entry is created really depends on the type of service that you are having trouble with. There are three main event logs that could potentially contain information about the service that you’re having trouble with. These include:

  • The System Log space – The System Log contains events related to the Windows operating system. If you are having trouble starting a service related to the Windows Operating System then the System Log is the best place to look for information.
  • The Applications and Services Logs space – Newer versions of Windows include a set of logs known as the Application and Services Logs. These logs are application specific. In other words, if you are looking for log entries related to a certain application, then this is the first place that you should look. The Applications and Services Logs container contains dedicated logs for things like Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office, and Windows PowerShell.
  • The Application Log space – most applications do not create a dedicated logs beneath the Applications and Services Logs container. Instead, application related logging information is usually written to the Application log.

Even though the event logs can be a valuable resource for troubleshooting a service that fails to start, it can sometimes be tough to find the information that you are looking for. After all, there are typically thousands of event log entries scattered across a dozen or more logs. If you have trouble locating information related to the service that you are having trouble with, then I recommend using the Event Viewer’s Find feature (which is located in the Actions pane). The Find feature works like a search engine and allows you to search for text related to the problem that you are having, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B: You can search the event logs for specific text.

When you find a log entry related to your problem, just double-click on the entry to view it. Sometimes the log entry will tell you exactly what the problem is. For example, the log entry shown in Figure C indicates that the service was disabled. This problem is easy enough to fix by re-enabling the service. Sometimes however, the solution is not quite so clear-cut. In these situations it is sometimes useful to make note of the event ID number so that you can look it up on the Internet if necessary. Often times, Microsoft provides TechNet articles with comprehensive solutions for specific event IDs.

Figure C: Sometimes event log entries will tell you exactly why a service failed to start.


Now that I have talked about the basics of troubleshooting a stubborn service, I want to move on to some of the more intermediate and advanced troubleshooting techniques. I will discuss these techniques in Part two.



This article discusses five more methods that you can use to diagnose and repair service startup issues.


In my first article in this series I talked about some really basic techniques for troubleshooting problems with services that refuse to start. In this article, I want to conclude the series by talking about five more things that you can do to get a stubborn service to start.

Check the Dependency Services

Sometimes a service may fail to start due to a problem with a dependency. Services can sometimes form a hierarchical architecture in which other services must be running in order for a service to start. Granted, not all services have dependencies associated with them, but dependency services are common enough that they certainly warrant a look if you are having trouble starting a service.

In the old days it was really tough to track down problems with dependency services, but most of the newer versions of Windows make it easy. To check service dependencies, open the Service Control Manager, right click on the service that you are having trouble starting, and select the Properties command from the resulting shortcut menu. When you do, Windows will display the service’s properties sheet.

As you can see in Figure A, this properties sheet contains a Dependencies tab. The Dependencies tab is divided into two sections. The top portion lists the services that must be running in order for the service that you have selected to start. The bottom portion of the tab lists services that cannot be started until the selected service is running. In this particular screen capture you can see that the Windows Firewall service cannot start unless the Base Filtering Engine and the Windows Firewall Authorization Driver have started. You can also see that there are no services that directly depend on the Windows Firewall service.

Figure A: Sometimes the failure of a dependency service may prevent a service from starting.

One thing that is important to keep in mind as you troubleshoot service dependencies is that sometimes the dependencies can form a multilevel hierarchy. If you look back at the figure above, you will notice that there is a plus sign to the left of the listings for the Base Filtering Engine service and the Windows Firewall Authorization Driver service. If you click on these icons then Windows will list any other dependencies that exist within the service hierarchy. As you can see in Figure B, there are multiple dependencies for the Base Filtering Engine service, but no additional dependencies for the Windows Firewall Authorization Driver service.

Figure B: Services can have several levels of dependencies.

Check for Authentication Failures

Services can also fail to start as a result of authentication failures. Most services do not run under the context of the user that is currently logged in. If they did then services would be unable to run in the background while no one is logged in. Likewise, services often require special permissions that are beyond those assigned to standard user accounts. As such, every service is linked to an account that provides the necessary permissions for the service to run.

You can see which account is linked to a service by opening the Service Control Manager, right clicking on the service that you are having trouble with, and choosing the Properties command from the resulting shortcut menu. When you do, Windows will display the properties sheet for the service. You can see which account is in use by going to the Log On tab, shown in Figure C.

Figure C: The Log On tab allows you to specify the account used by the service.

As you can see in the figure, Windows gives you the option of running the service using the Local System account or a specific account. In this particular case, an account called Local Service is being used. In case you are wondering, the Local System account is a very high level account that is used only when the service in question needs to act as a part of the operating system. In contrast, the Local Service account has rights that are more similar to those of a standard user. On occasion you might also see a service configured to use the Network Service account. The Network Service account uses the credentials associated with the machine’s computer account.

Normally if a service is configured to use the Local System, Local Service, or Network Service account then you won’t have to worry about managing the credentials for that service. Windows takes care of this automatically on your behalf (assuming that nothing is broken within the operating system). What can be a problem however, is that some services run under the context of either a local user account or a domain user account. When such service accounts are used, passwords can and sometimes do expire.

When a service account password expires, the problem might not be noticed immediately. However, the next time that the machine is rebooted the service which has been assigned an expired password will fail to start. You can fix the problem by going to the service’s Log On tab and manually specifying the new password.

Keep in mind that a service can fail to authenticate even if the password is correct if the machine in question is unable to communicate with the domain controller on which the service account resides.

Malware Infestation

Certain types of malware infestations can cause system services to fail to start. For example, some antivirus products run as system services. If a virus wants to avoid detection then it may check for the existence of such a service, shut the service down, and then damage the system in a way that prevents the service from being started in the future.

Although antivirus related services are by far the most common target, they are certainly not the only type of service that can be attacked by a virus. Viruses can attack virtually any system service. For example, I once saw a virus that attacked the Windows Firewall Service.

Disk corruption

If you are having trouble getting a service to start then another thing that I recommend doing is checking the system for hard disk corruption. I once ran into a situation in which a system seemed to be perfectly healthy aside from the inability of one particular service to start. No matter what I tried I just could not get this service running. Out of desperation I ran the CHKDSK. Upon doing so, I discovered that the system volume was corrupt and that several operating system files had been damaged.

Unfortunately, CHKDSK was unable to fix the problem. I was however able to make a list of the files that have been damaged and then copy those files from another system that was running the same version of Windows (and the same set of patches).

Time Sync Issues

If all else fails, check the system clock and make sure that the time matches the time that is displayed on your domain controllers. If a service uses the Kerberos protocol for authentication then the authentication process can fail if the computer’s clock falls out of sync with the clocks on your domain controllers. In order for Kerberos to function properly, clocks cannot be out of sync by more than five minutes.


As you can see, there are any number of potential causes for service failures. Fortunately, it is usually relatively easy to get a failed service running again using the steps that I have described in this article series. If you have trouble getting a service running, don’t forget that the Event Viewer may contain valuable clues as to the nature of the problem.


If you would like to read the first part in this article series please go to Troubleshooting Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Startup Issues (Part 1).