Common Windows Issues: Why Password Resets Fail on a Domain Controller

  • Last updated on: 2016-06-10
  • Authored by: Richard Goodwin

Problem: After issuing a password reset request for a Windows Server acting as a Domain Controller (DC), the password does not reset.

Cause: The Rackspace Cloud Servers Agent service attempts to alter the local Security Accounts Manager (SAM) account for the Administrator object and reports a failure, but the password reset operation appears to have completed successfully.

Resolution: None at this time. A Domain Controller does not have any local accounts. When a server is promoted to a Domain Controller, all local accounts are removed and authentication, access permissions, group memberships, etc are handled by the Active Directory database. Since there are no local accounts, the password reset command sent to the local Administrator object will fail.

Conclusion: When you attempt to clone a Domain Controller, the operation will fail on multiple levels. Even if the build somehow makes it past the password reset stage, the DC will never be functional as it will detect a duplicate Domain Controller object within the forest, which is impossible outside of a cloning scenario due to how computer names are handled within Active Directory.

If the new Domain Controller’s name was altered, another failure will occur because DNS (and hence Active Directory since they are tied together) will be unable to locate the name it sees as the Start of Authority (SOA) for the Active Directory domain’s zone file. The computer object within the Domain Controllers container within Active Directory will also not match, so the cloned Domain Controller will think it abides by all the rules during its boot process, but when confronted with reality, it will become so confused and embarrassed that it will isolate itself from all communication on the network and shut down all Directory Services attributes - which means you will never make it past a login prompt and you’ll have to boot into Directory Services Restore Mode to clean up the metadata.

Note: You cannot clone a Rackspace Cloud Server that is configured to be a Domain Controller. In order to save an image of the server for use in creating new servers, you must first demote the server from being a Domain Controller.

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