Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Windows SBS 2011 is denying users access to shared folders and services are stopping

Last week we installed the May 2015 Windows Updates to a Small Business Server 2011 for a client. We usually wait 2 or 3 weeks from release before installing such patches, to see if anyone else has problems when doing so.

The day after the patches were installed the users reported that they were being refused access to their Shared Drives. We logged on to the Server to find that the User Profile wouldn't load and it was very, very slow in operation, eventually hanging and requiring a forced reboot.

It would boot to Safe Mode, suggesting that the problem was less likely to be hardware related. The Windows patches of the day before were the most likely culprit, but once it had rebooted it would work well for anywhere from 1 to 4 hours.

We saw a lot of SharePoint errors in the Event Logs, and we discovered that the SharePoint  2010 VSS Writer service was being stopped and set to "Disabled", rather than "Automatic". There had been a number of SharePoint updates installed the day before, but these didn't have an uninstall option. This led us down a blind alley for some time and we discovered that running psconfig.exe made no difference.

No issues were reported by a Best Practices Analyser scan. Running the "Fix My Network" wizard suggested minor errors in IPv6 and DNS settings, but resolving these saw no change. Updating the network card drivers didn't do anything either.

The problem appeared to be getting worse as reboots now led to the Server waiting a long time after entering a password on “Applying Group Policy Drive Maps Policy”. 

A slow process of fault finding made us realise that the following services were among those being stopped:

a.    Group Policy Client
b.    IKE and AuthIP IPsec Keying Modules
c.    IP Helper
d.    Server
e.    Shell Hardware Detection
f.     System Event Notification Service
g.    Task Scheduler

All of these would allow themselves to be restarted, with the exception of the Group Policy Client service.

Cutting a very long story short, the problems were eventually tracked to the Windows Updates service and the WSUS Role on the Server, which controls how Windows Updates are rolled out to client PCs. Disabled the "Update Service" service and the "Windows Update" service, as well as removing the WSUS role from the Server has made everything stable again.

Removing the WSUS role and stopping the Updates services means that the client PCs needed to be reset to go direct to Microsoft for their own Windows Updates. This is achieved through tweaking the relevant Group Policy.

We adjusted the GPO  "Update Services Common Settings" - Computer Configuration – Policies - Administrative Templates - Windows Components - Windows Update:

“Specify intranet Microsoft update service location” - Set this to disabled

The SharePoint issues seem to be a completely separate red herring and we are willing to ignore them as we don't use SharePoint anyway and these failures are having no impact on the users or the Server.

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The IT Dept offers computer support services in Lancashire, including Monthly On-Site or Remote Support Contracts; Secure Online Data Backup; Domain Hosting; Server and Desktop Sales; Software Supply & Installation. We cover all of Lancashire, including Chorley, Preston, Blackburn, Darwen, Bolton, Wigan, Blackpool, etc.
© Michael Donkin 2015