Just Say “NO” to Reboots when Unjoining a Domain

I needed to troubleshoot a printing problem on one of our test servers to determine if the problem was caused by software updates that I did or if it was pre-existing.  I had a snapshot of the server prior to any of my work, so I wanted to create a new snapshot so I could roll back, test, and roll forward again after the test. 

For some reason, when I rolled back the server to the earlier snapshot, I could not login with domain credentials.  The event log had recorded: “Windows cannot determine the user or computer name. (Access is denied. ). Group Policy processing aborted.”  Typically when this is seen, the computer account is messed up and you can unjoin and rejoin the computer to the domain to reestablish the account. 

After my testing was finished, I decided to go ahead jump forward to the recent backup before I rolled back.  I received the same message and could not login to the domain.  I went into the system properties and changed the PC from domain to workgroup named “workgroup”.  After this, the server asked me to reboot to finish applying the changes.  When I rebooted the server, I noticed all the software that was pushed out by group policy was now being uninstalled.  I went ahead and kept going and rejoined the server to the domain (10 – 15 minutes later to allow for AD replication).  The server asked me to reboot again after joining the domain, and it proceeded to install the group policy software that had just been removed.  Even though I could now login to the domain, there were a few things that still didn’t work quite right because of this, such as programs that GP should have been removed from a previous MW were still there. [more]

I reverted back to my snapshot again, changed the server from domain to workgroup, and let it sit for (10-15 minutes) while declining to reboot.  I joined the server back to the domain and then elected to reboot the server.  This successfully kept all of the previous software installed by GP and uninstalled the software that was specified by the previous MW GP modifications.  So to save yourself problems in the future when fixing computer account association, don’t reboot after unjoining the domain, but DO reboot after rejoining.

Networking Windows 2003 Server