SBS 2011 failed restore – KSOD black screen with cursor

Crisis compounded …a business is critically impacted and NOW like as in NOW need to use their Windows Backup to restore back to a known good point.  You go through the 1-2 hour process and when the server reboots you get …a Black Screen of Death (KSOD) aka black screen a cursor and an unhealthy server OS that you cannot access.

When I hit this issue I immediately called a colleague who laser beamed onto the source of this issue.  Even with that information of the general cause and fix in hand, I had a very difficult time finding the needed detailed information so I could apply it and quickly overcome the issue.  My client needed to get back up and in business – my ass was now on the line!

…So I’m rectifying this info sprawl disconnect and putting it all in one place  – here.

In the interest of helping other businesses get back up from this scenario as fast as possible, below is this assemblage blog post.  This assembled information resolved my issue and can resolve yours as well.  It really isn’t very complicated to execute and you will find yourself quickly de-stressed once you again see the Ctrl-Alt-Delete screen following the server’s startup.

This also can apply to SBS 2008 too; just remember to copy the directory mentioned below from an SBS 2008 source.

First – What, Why, When

  • The reason you aren’t fully booting into the OS GUI is due to a previously installed Microsoft tool that you will later want to remove. This tool is the NTbackup & Restore Tool.  It is installed as a individually downloadable KB (.msu) which means it doesn’t appear as a standalone Role, Feature, or Program.  Unlike those things which you are commonly used to manipulating this tool has to be removed via the “Installed Updates” list …more on that later.
  • This Microsoft Tool is interfering with a specific directory that is now incomplete and without it your recovery fails.  You end up at a KSOD (Black Screen of Death).

Second – Help!

  • The ‘kinda’ good news is that if you can get a copy of this directory from a known good installation of the same OS at another of your clients or from someone you trust to provide you the same …then you are ‘in like Flynn’

The reason for this is that a specific folder is omitted from the backups – c:\Windows\Registration – if this condition exists.

This condition is now noted in Update Rollup 3 for SBS 2011 –

The simple fix for this is as follows:

  1. Copy the contents of C:\Windows\Registration from a working SBS2011 server
  2. Boot into the Windows Repair/Recovery mode using SBS2011 Disc 1
  3. Open up a command prompt and browse to C:\Windows\Registration
  4. Copy the files (from a USB drive or something) over to the server

The server should now boot up

(see reference link to PowerBiz Solutions post by Boon Tee below)

Third – Cleanup

  • once the OS is back up and running you’ve got some critically important work to do
  • uninstall the NTbackup & Restore Tool by bringing up either Programs and Feature or the Widows Updates Windows and then selecting the ‘Installed Updates’ choice on the left column.  Within the list of updates find and remove
    “Update for Microsoft Windows Windows (KB974674)”
  • install, review, and take remediation steps from the Microsoft Windows Server Solutions BPA 1.3 – avoid aka ignore the direction to alter the webconfig as instructed with the EWS error (see references below for further information)
  • run a full image backup immediately


(click above to enlarge)



SBS gone poof …Transition Ahead! – Who, What, Why, Where, When

subtitle –  emerging technology innovation train coming through – this just isn’t the right business for stagnation

News is now out …SBS is no more – dramatic shift and what exactly does this mean?  …losing the name SBS, the unique partner certification and designation branding SBSC, and much of the special philosophy that the last decade saw Microsoft reaching for the Small Business as had never happened before. 

Who – the customer, the partner, the vendors, the software developers, the software support …all will be impacted

What – SBS the name and the brand is no more, no SBSC, replaced by a hybrid of Windows Server Essentials 2012 & either a member server of Exchange on premise or Exchange hosted – all the predictable results wizards gone  …it’s a new world

Why – …apparently it was time for a change – life happens …business decisions are made by those that shoulder the rudder and compass

Where – all encompassing across the width and breadth of Microsoft’s landscape

When – SBS 2011 w/ SA stops being sold July 31’st, 2012, SBS 2011 platform stops as OEM December 31’st, 2013, SBS 2011 platform in VL and … stops June 30, 2013 – the Windows Server Essentials 2012 product launches with the Windows 2012 family of server expected in the August-September time frame.

**other important noteworthy aspects**

none of the new licensing and pricing for this model is out yet -  it is not yet possible to do an accurate cost comparison of whether buying SBS 2011 w/ SA now will be a good decision.  The historical Microsoft trend has been to supply the full next version products and licensing to be at a minimum equivalent to what SA covers; in the case of now defunct Windows Essential Business Server aka WEBS aka EBS, that meant a really incredibly good deal.  With the SBS 2012 platform that will likely mean Exchange, Exchange CALS, and Windows Server Standard 2012 …see the linked FAQ from the preceding post.

a script is under development to help integrate on-premise Exchange on a member server to Windows Server Essentials 2012 so that managing users and their email accounts can be done from the WSE console …sorta SBS-like – this integration script is available in the current downloadable beta

Windows Server Essentials 2012 will be the evolutionary step product from what is currently named Windows SBS 2011 Essentials and the licensing model of 25 users and no CALS required should carry forward.  WSE 21012 will add Direct Access as a new feature.

WSE will be able to be ‘transmogrified’ aka 25 user limit breakable via a one time purchasable upgrade script.  There will be no unique upper limit as the server essentially become a Windows Standard Server OS.  The de-duplication backup feature will expand up to 75 devices at this point.  Once the ‘transmog’ is applied you still get to keep the RWA, Remote Web Access, and De-dup Backup features.

SBSC is gone …Small Business competency (Silver or Gold) is an available path to consider going.  The benefits are in many ways nicer.  It costs nearly 562% more ($1,850 Silver versus $329 MAPS – as of today for US Partner)

**General Banter**

Ouch that hurt …didn’t see that coming?  Probably because up to a month ago their were reports of development on a product to replace SBS 2011 still underway.

Although the never-ending siren call of ‘go to the cloud’ beckons, many on-premise clients are resisting; their LoB apps, data security requirements, and their bandwidth costs are key factors.  Resistance is futile or so I’ve been told.

So while you can still do on-premise, it isn’t for those that are simpletons or light on their ability to follow complex instructions and do their due diligent preparations to ensure good healthy rollout projects.  We’ve been encouraged and guided to adapt to the SBS mantra of putting everything possible on a single box to maximize value to the customer.  In this era, we can now still do this but can silo the various resource monster products onto their own virtual machine where all the products like Exchange, IIS, and SQL can coexist but yet be constrained by assignment of memory or CPU cores.

**Silver Lining**

As painful as this transition is, if we can get all the keystone IT infrastructure software components in VM’s under a single Virtual Parent and keep pricing in line with its historical small business affordability; then we will be in a better place.  Having a BDC and redundant DNS is in reach.  Another perk is that ISV’s can design their LoB software for Windows Server and not have to specially accommodate a ‘small’ flavored unique server platform as has been the case.  This also provides the ability to opt into increased DR resiliency by implementing the usage of HyperV clustering with the VM’s on a common NAS.  For those business that never want to be down for long; this is a great new option albeit with a doubled++ price on hardware.

Microsoft has abandoned the Small Business – Cloud resistance is futile

The majority of my small business clients do NOT want cloud based Exchange services.  They very much like their on premise SBS solutions.  Redmond announced today that they are shelving service to that market and solely going to either cloud based Exchange or full product licensed on premise software (no longer bundled appropriate to small business).


When Fonzie jumped the shark, we all knew that an era was over.  Will Microsoft notice that Balmer has taken them out of a market they were vigorously pursuing a mere few years ago?

Windows SBS 2011 Standard, which includes Exchange Server and SharePoint Foundation, will be the final such Windows SBS offering. It will remain available through the OEM channel until December 31, 2013, and will remain available in all other current channels until June 30, 2013. For additional details, please see the Windows Server 2012 Essentials FAQ. I hope to see you at the 2012 Worldwide Partner Conference starting July 8 in Toronto, Canada, where we’ll be talking more about Windows Server 2012 Essentials, and we’ll also let you know when you can try it out.

The Copier Man Rings Twice …and Then Some–A Tale of a Spanning Tree Loop (a Sequel Every Millisecond)

Have you ever wondered …what would happen if?  …if say …say

…if say you decide to plug that unknown loose wire into say …some open port on that switch that is conveniently close by? …well let’s just pretend even if you wouldn’t – I mean you are a mere copier printer tech guy …why should you be sloppy and leave loose wires sitting around unplugged? …you remembered unplugging it from the business machine you worked on moments ago and so you know it shouldn’t be loose …its like extra bolts when working on your engine – they gotta go somewhere – that machine is a network aware device and logic might dictate that a network cable should plug into the port on the side that magically happens to have a matching shape to that thing at the end of the loose cable …but that switch has lots of other wires in it – that looks like a better place …right?  I mean it does look inviting. [DOH!]

…so if you take a mini-switch that expands your limited one port wall plate in the corner to use a couple of printers, an IP phone, scanner …etc. you have a time-bomb waiting to detonate your network with ARP traffic.  Perhaps labeling the switch exactly as it is to be used would help to idiot proof it …or maybe taping over the unused ports.  The above fun was done at the expense of a real scenario but the names were changed to protect the guilty.   Unplugging all hosts from the main relay rack switches and adding them back one at a time was the methodology that first brought relief and ultimately led to the conclusion that a spanning tree loop condition existed somewhere out in the office.  The pain of seeing a network go berserk and not know why was unsettling for many hours of down-time until the client remembered that a copier/printer guy had done work the previous day.   It was a matter of minutes then to get things rectified.

Memorial Day – thank you soldier

Upwards in Business - Sisyphus meets IT

you stay up for 16 hours

He stays up for days on end.


You take a warm shower to help you wake up.

He goes days or weeks without running water.


You complain of a ‘headache’, and call in sick..

He gets shot at as others are hit, and keeps moving forward.


You put on your anti war/don’t support the troops shirt, and go meet up with your friends.

He still fights for your right to wear that shirt.


You make sure you’re cell phone is in your pocket.

He clutches the cross hanging on his chain next to his dog tags.


You talk trash about your ‘buddies’ that aren’t with you.

He knows he may not see some of his buddies again.


You walk down the beach, staring at all the pretty girls.

He patrols the streets, searching for insurgents and terrorists.


You complain about how hot it is.

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