Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a Windows XP system that I cloned in June. Since then I have been using the cloned HDD (which was new).

This morning I put the original drive back into the machine, and attempted to login to it. It got this message :- "Windows cannot connect to the domain, either because the domain controller is down or otherwise unavailable, or because your computer account was not found. Please try again later. If this message continues to appear, contact your system administrator for assistance."

I tried my account, an ex-employee who left before me, and another colleague attempted to login as well. All Fail with the above message.

Using the cloned (newer HDD) drive works fine.

I logged in as local Administrator, and the Domain Controller is pingable from this machine. I also mapped a network share using my network logon ID, and password, and created a file on the network.

The System Administrator (small company, not much network management experience) hasn't seen this before.

Thanks in advance of your assistance.

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Though Chris McKeown is correct about the fix, he is incorrect about the cause of this problem.

It is most probable that you're seeing this issue because the machine SID Active Directory uses to identify a machine is different between the cloned drive and the original drive. Removing and rejoining the domain should fix the issue, however, I'd advise changing the machine name to something slightly different so you don't encounter this issue again. (And, in general, it's usually best to take a disk image or clone before joining a machine to a domain, not after, to avoid experiencing this issue altogether.)

share|improve this answer

Domain-joined machines change their passwords every 30 days. This is automatic and you don't notice it happening.

The original hard disk will have a different machine account password than the one currently held in Active Directory. Removing and re-joining the machine to the domain will resolve this. After doing this, you'll then have the same problem again if you put the other drive back into the machine.

share|improve this answer
Remove it from the domain, then rejoin it with a different name. Obviously you cannot have two machines with the same name on the AD... – Ben Sep 24 '12 at 12:38
You're not (probably) not quite right about what's causing this, see my answer. The error thrown when a machine account's password doesn't match is not the same as the error thrown when the computer account SID is absent or altered, which is the error described by cometbill. – HopelessN00b Sep 24 '12 at 12:39
@HopelessN00b Good catch :-) – Chris McKeown Sep 24 '12 at 12:48

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.