Common Windows Issues: Key Management Server Activation

  • Last updated on: 2018-12-06
  • Authored by: Rackspace Support

Problem: Periodic activation requests to the Key Management Server (KMS) are rejected and the operating system shows as unlicensed.

Cause: Windows cannot locate the KMS after changing the time zone of the cloud server. As a result, your server’s system clock does not sync with the KMS.

Resolution: You must re-sync your cloud server with the KMS server:

  1. Log in to your cloud server as administrator by clicking Start > All Programs > Accessories. Then, right-click Command Prompt and select Run as Administrator.

  2. Confirm that you can ping the Rackspace KMS server by running the following command:


    Note: If there is a reply, move on to step 3. No reply means that there is an interface, hardware, or routing issue. We recommend the following article for help resolving the issue: Update ServiceNet routes on cloud servers

  3. Set the KMS manually within the registry:

     slmgr.vbs /skms
  4. Request activation from the KMS:

     slmgr.vbs /ato

    If you recieve the error 0xC004F074 The Key Management Server (KMS) is unavailable, skip to step 9

  5. If the device does not activate then the server may be set to MAK activation instead of KMS activation. To confirm which activation method is set on the device, run the following command:

     SLMGR -dlv

    Look for the Product Key Channel setting. Volume:GVLK means the device is set to KMS activation, Volume:MAK means the device is set to MAK activation.

    The following images show sample outputs:

    KMS Activation Output:

    MAK Activation Output:

  6. If your device is set to MAK activation then you should set the device back to KMS activation. First find and take note of the appropriate KMS client setup key from Microsoft: KMS Client Setup Keys

    To find wich Server edition you are running, run the following command and look for the section labelled OS name:

     systeminfo | findstr OS


     PS C:\Users\Administrator> systeminfo | findstr OS
     OS Name:                   Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter
  7. Set the device to KMS acivation using the key found in the previously referenced article and entering the following command:

     slmgr /ipk %key%

    Make sure to replace %key% with the key from the Microsoft document.

  8. To activate the device, run the below command:

     slmgr.vbs /ato
  9. If step 4 returned the error 0xC004F074 The Key Management Server (KMS) is unavailable, run the following command:

     w32tm /resync
  10. If the time on the cloud server is drastically different than what is on the KMS, the re-sync will fail. At this point, you should either set the time manually or configure the server to use an NTP instance over the Internet.

    Data center Command
    ORD (Chicago) net stop w32time
    w32tm /config / /syncfromflags:MANUAL
    net start w32time
    DFW (Dallas) net stop w32time
    w32tm /config / /syncfromflags:MANUAL
    net start w32time
    IAD (Ashburn) net stop w32time
    w32tm /config / /syncfromflags:MANUAL
    net start w32time
    LON (London) net stop w32time
    w32tm /config / /syncfromflags:MANUAL
    net start w32time
    HKG (Hong Kong) net stop w32time
    w32tm /config / /syncfromflags:MANUAL
    net start w32time
    SYD (Sydney) net stop w32time
    w32tm /config / /syncfromflags:MANUAL
    net start w32time
  11. After the time is synced up, attempt each of the following commands:

    w32tm /resync
    slmgr.vbs /ato
  12. You must open UDP port 123 to allow the sync.

  13. Make sure your firewall allows outbound connections to TCP port 1688.

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