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“Directory Services cannot start” error message

You may receive this message when attempting to start your Windows based domain controller under the following circumstances:

  • The NTFS file system permission on the root are too restrictive.
  • The NTFS file system permission on the NTDS folder are too restrictive.
  • The drive letter of the volume that contains the Active Directory database has changed.
  • The Active Directory database (Ntds.dit) is corrupted.

For a good article on diagnosing this problem see:
"Directory Services cannot start" error message when you start your Windows-based or SBS-based domain controller

If you have recieved this message as part of restoring or copying partitions, the most likely cause is the drive letter is unavailable or has changed.  This can be caused if your AD database is spread out over multiple drive letters and Windows has not assigned the drive letter to the partition before it's actually needed.  The rest of this article assumes that is the condition you have.

If you are using Image for DOS, Image for Linux, or Image for Windows to recover the partitions on a new drive, you must restore each partition to the same location on the new hard drive (this may require one or more existing partitions to be deleted). The original disk signature can be restored using the Restore Disk Signature option, if necessary.

If you are using BootIt BM, you can try the following methods:

  • Opening the drive in Partition Work, clicking View MBR, and clicking the Clear Sig button.

  • Opening the drive in Partition Work, clicking View MBR, and entering the original signature using the Edit Sig button.

As another option, you can use the free MBRWORK utility to capture 4 sectors starting at LBA 0 on the source drive and restore to the same LBA on the target drive.  Then proceed with the image restore operation.


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