Transfer FSMO Role Win32 error returned is 0x20af

For a client I had to test some domain controller scenarios and issues. There are two domain controllers (DC01 and DC02) and a new one (NewDC) is added. FSMO roles are moved to NewDC and DC01 must be decommissioned. No big deal you would say….

Domain FSMO roles (RID Master, PDC and Infrastructure master) moved in an instant, but moving the forest FSMO roles (Schema master and Domain Naming master) failed with the following error, both in the GUI as well as NTDSUTIL:

Win32 error returned is 0x20af(The requested FSMO operation failed. The current FSMO holder could not be contacted.)
Depending on the error code this may indicate a connection, ldap, or role transfer error.

Using Netdom query FSMO I could see the roles.

This happened when logged on the AD01 as well as NewDC, connectivity was not an issue and I did not notice any strange issues with Exchange and Outlook or OWA clients.

Using Google I found several other similar issues, and the overall recommendation was to seize the FSMO roles. Seizing FSMO roles is an option when the old Domain Controller is no longer available, but in my scenario I had to keep the old Domain Controller for testing.

But instead of using Google I had to look in the eventlog in the first place. The first entry I found was a confirmation that the roles could not be transferred, but Additional Data Error value: 4 was not very helpful:

An attempt to transfer the operations master role represented by the following object failed.

Object:
CN=Partitions,CN=Configuration,DC=msexchangebook,DC=com
Current operations master role:
CN=NTDS Settings,CN=DC01,CN=Servers,CN=Default-First-Site-Name,CN=Sites,CN=Configuration,DC=msexchangebook,DC=com
Proposed operations master role:
CN=NTDS Settings,CN=NIEUWEDC,CN=Servers,CN=Default-First-Site-Name,CN=Sites,CN=Configuration,DC=msexchangebook,DC=com

Additional Data
Error value:
4

Subsequent entries were more helpful, Event 2019, ActiveDirectory_DomainService indicated replication issues:

Or in tekst for Search Optimization:

This server is the owner of the following FSMO role, but does not consider it valid. For the partition which contains the FSMO, this server has not replicated successfully with any of its partners since this server has been restarted. Replication errors are preventing validation of this role.

Operations which require contacting a FSMO operation master will fail until this condition is corrected.

FSMO Role: CN=Partitions,CN=Configuration,DC=msexchangebook,DC=com

User Action:

  1. Initial synchronization is the first early replications done by a system as it is starting. A failure to initially synchronize may explain why a FSMO role cannot be validated. This process is explained in KB article 305476.
  2. This server has one or more replication partners, and replication is failing for all of these partners. Use the command repadmin /showrepl to display the replication errors. Correct the error in question. For example there maybe problems with IP connectivity, DNS name resolution, or security authentication that are preventing successful replication.
  3. In the rare event that all replication partners are expected to be offline (for example, because of maintenance or disaster recovery), you can force the role to be validated. This can be done by using NTDSUTIL.EXE to seize the role to the same server. This may be done using the steps provided in KB articles 255504 and 324801 on http://support.microsoft.com.

The following operations may be impacted:
Schema: You will no longer be able to modify the schema for this forest.
Domain Naming: You will no longer be able to add or remove domains from this forest.
PDC: You will no longer be able to perform primary domain controller operations, such as Group Policy updates and password resets for non-Active Directory Domain Services accounts.
RID: You will not be able to allocation new security identifiers for new user accounts, computer accounts or security groups.
Infrastructure: Cross-domain name references, such as universal group memberships, will not be updated properly if their target object is moved or renamed.

In the end it turned out that DNS was not configured correctly, hence the replication issues. Fixed the DNS settings on the Domain Controllers and after a short while the Domain Controllers resumed replication and I was able to move the Forest FSMO roles to the new Domain Controller.

So in short, always check eventlog, replication and DNS when troubleshooting Domain Controller issues 😉

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