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We have a (partly) decommissioned Windows 2003 server (of year 2000 vintage) which has been running fine until I had to turn it off for the first time in months due to a planned power outage.

The server boots and responds to ping, but the GUI shows it's stuck at "Applying Security Policy" (over 12 hours each on two attempts). I cannot connect with Remote Desktop, but I can connect with Services.msc and remote registry etc which is strange. I get "Access Denied" if I try and access the Event Log remotely (as domain admin). All normal services appear to be running OK.

I'm wondering if it's looking for, or dependent on one of our other recently decommissioned servers has we have recently decommissioned a PDC and it's likely this is the first time this machine has rebooted since decommissioning the old PDC.

Where would I start with trying to diagnose this problem? Please be aware I'm not a sysadmin - I'm a web developer, so avoid funky acronyms if possible ;)

  • Unplug the network cable and reboot - If it gets to the logon screen plug the cable back in and attempt to logon – Drifter104 Feb 9 '16 at 10:39
  • @Drifter104 thanks - it does boot and login without the network cable, but unsure why it was stuck when the cable plugged in, or how to permanently fix this. At least I can see the event log now... – NickG Feb 9 '16 at 10:55
  • That means it was looking for another server more then likely the DC - Update the network configuration on the server with details of a working DC put the cable back in and reboot – Drifter104 Feb 9 '16 at 10:57
  • @Drifter104 Do you mean in the DNS settings? One DNS server was already correct but the other was for a decommissioned server. Is there anywhere else I need to look for references to decommissioned servers other than network DNS? – NickG Feb 9 '16 at 10:59
  • There's nothing in the event log related to this problem in either application or system. – NickG Feb 9 '16 at 11:00
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Boot with the network cable unplugged.

Without the server plugged the server will boot without trying to connect with the DNS/DC that is no longer available.

Once the server is booted log in with either local credentials or cached domain credentials (if there are any) and edit the network configuration removing reference to any resources that are unavailable.

Reboot with the network cable and login

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