Troubleshooting Windows Service Start Errors

Using the MSM makes it easy to start Manitou services, but what do you do when windows services will not start? I have come across into this issue enough times to know that it can be frustrating when everything appears to be in the right place, but the service still states “Windows could not start the ________ service.”

If you have ever run into a service issue start and don’t know where to start, hopefully this quick article will help. It may seem a bit technical; however, it is intended to provide a deeper understanding of how services work alongside troubleshooting.

Where to Begin

After verifying that the files you are trying to start do in fact exist, these are the questions to ask:

  • Is the hard drive full?
  • Is there a file with the name “Program” in the system drive? (Fixed by a patch on Windows 2008 and newer)
  • Is there a file with the name “Common” in the Program Files folder? (Fixed by a patch on Windows 2008 and newer)
  • Are there any dependencies not installed that may be required? (Package 2 from our update packages and windows updates will generally resolve this)

What is Happening During the Service Start

When a service is started by Windows, the operating system first parses the path of the service from left to right. In order to initiate the command, it requires write space. If the hard drive is full, the service will not start due to no available write space. Since the system parses left to right, if there is a file or folder on the computer that has the same name as a file or folder in the path to the service’s executable, it will try to open that folder or file instead of the correct service path.

– Example –

Say we have an executable file path of C:Program FilesBold TechnologiesManitouDistclient.exe

If there is a folder in Program Files called Bold, Windows will locate “C:Program FilesBold”  first and try to run that instead of the intended path. An error similar to the following will then present.

Quick Resolution to Common Causes Listed Above

Cause 1

If your hard drive is full, it may be past time to clean up some of the lingering files on your desktop or downloads folder. I recommend checking at least once a month for any backup files, reports, downloads, etc., and either moving them to a separate storage drive or deleting them if they are no longer needed.

Causes 2 and 3

If there is a necessary file or folder that is interfering with a service start, quotes can be put around the service path location. This is done from the registry and will require a restart to go into effect. (See Microsoft KB article link below)

Furthermore, there is a patch out for anything, including Windows Server 2008 or newer, which resolves the issue. If you have a newer operating system, verify that all Windows updates have been applied.

Microsoft KB Article on adding quotes to service path

Cause 4

This is revisiting what was stated on Causes 2 and 3, but make sure to have your Windows updates to the latest and greatest. Not only do they fix issues like what we see here, but they are important to patch security problems.

As soon as a patch is released by Microsoft intended to fix a security hole, it becomes public knowledge, increasing the need to keep your machine updated.

Final Notes

I should note that this is not applicable to Manitou services listed in the MSM. Our services must be started from the MSM due to additional parameters we pass through in which Windows is unable. The most common issues I run into are for services outside of the MSM, such as Windows’ faxing service, the Bold Monitor Service (needed for opening the MSM to start our applications), or the Bold Distributer Client (needed by client machines for updates).

While these are the most common service start issues I have encountered, these resolutions are not exhaustive. If you are running into a service start issue which is presenting a problem to the Manitou services or alarm handling, call us immediately and we will be glad to help!