Question Need Help From Someone Familiar With Win 10, Win 2012 Server Essentials, Accounts, Passwords And Security

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,308
1,187
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Imagine me standing at the freeway entrance with a sign which says "Homeless -- need spare change". Here, my sign is -- Windows Server and Win 10 -- NEED HELP!!

Maybe I could sort this out on my own over time, but I don't have time. VirtualLarry will tell you I'm working through a hardware problem on one computer. A pile of my time and energy goes toward taking care of my 97-year-old Moms, who is bed-bound. I'm trying to re-deploy, de-commission or recycle three older computers in a house where there were once three active users, four workstations and my server. My brother died in January, my Moms stopped using her computer daily at end of 2016 as her dementia suddenly became noticeable to us as we tried to figure out what was happening. A few years back, these machines were set up with Windows Media Center and some HDHomeRun tuners. Support for the cable-cards declined from our Tv-internet-and-telephone provider. After that, I was using Moms' computer to give her television through the web-browser, but I finally got some ROKU devices and we're all set up -- especially Moms. So now, there is one computer user, three computers (including a laptop now), and the server.

KNowing that i could get the server to backup my Win 10 systems (three of the others were still under Win 7), I went through the process of deleting three user accounts and those computers with their backups from the Server (Win 2012 Essentials R2). So far, no injury to the server and all is good with that.

The remaining PCs and my laptop were "Devices" in the server's Dashboard list. I decided to delete them as well with their backups so I could add them back in and start fresh. I need to keep the server because it contains a lot of important information, a collection of music/audio files, and nearly a terabyte of movies and TV recordings. Eventually, I will accommodate myself to keeping my data and backups in a simpler way, but I'm not going to work through all that right now. The server STAYS, for now.

Once the cleanup and deletions had been done, I came downstairs to reinstall Windows 2012 Connector software. Here's where I have dirty and terrible things to say to microsoft about their g**D**n "Microsoft Account" requirements, when you already have LAN logins for your server workgroup or domain. On one of my machines -- one currently under repair -- I set it up so the existing local account continued, but it would still login and connect to my MS account online. This other machine which I'm using at the moment (during the repairs) had been a Win 7 until I installed Win 10 on it a few days ago. Somehow, it took a different path and made my MS account the main account. I was still able to access the server and my files in the "Shared Folders". But now -- I can't.

So far, on the first workstation to be reconnected -- the PC reinstalled with Win 10 over the Win 7 configuration -- It seemed that the MS account somehow prevailed, but I had been able to successfully complete the server connector installation because the machine had still been among devices on the server. But after deleting devices and accounts, the Connector software gives me the following error message and fails to install:

"This computer is already connected to another windows server network. Before connecting this computer to the windows server essentials network, you must remove the computer from the current network. To resolve the issue, contact the person responsible for your network."

My first and last name are associated with my e-mail address, which is the MS Account ID on that system. My first and last name are also my primary local workgroup/domain account ID. I suspect this will also be a problem on the two remaining machines, so I want to resolve it for this system before moving on. And as I said, all the "computer names" have been deleted from the Server "Devices" list.

I have been poking around for answers. Here's what I observe so far.

I can "unlink" a machine name from my MS Account online under the web-page "Manage my Account" link.

Just exploring without "executing", the MS account management page says this:

Remove your device
Once you remove your device, you won’t see it here anymore. Here's what else will happen:

Find my device will be turned off

So I would wonder if I might be able to "re-link" the system to the account, once I have this problem with the server resolved.

Another thing I might do is to establish a different account name for my local workgroup/domain server. Generally, if I give myself "administrator" privileges, it will still allow me access to my frequently used folders and data on the server, although some of those folders may have more specific permissions for access that I've taken for granted. This might mean poking around the "Advanced" sharing and permissions folders in Win 2012 to make some changes -- an annoyance and extra work.

Even so, and hopefully -- I might then be able to install the Connector software on my workstations.

I don't have a lot of time, and I don't need to be correcting mistakes after getting into a morass by following this or that possible fix.

Can someone give me some advice about this, and save me some time and trouble? I may actually be playing dumb here, but I'd like some input from some other veterans before proceeding. If I screw something up, it will take more time and energy to fix it. Being the Diaper Handler and Short-Order Cook, House-keeper, Financial Manager, Gardener, Car Repair guy and medical appointment scheduler takes a lot of that energy and time. If you've heard it before and want to tell me "Stop whining!", I think I should be whining even more. Sometimes, I get some sleep. To-DAYYY! -- I took a shower. The last one was about four weeks ago . . .
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,308
1,187
126
OK . . .. I'm the guy with the superfast fingers, filling threads with my prolix drivel.

FEAR NOT, THOUGH. For the time being, I think I've resolved my problem.

We had started out with these PCs in WORKGROUP mode, and I remembered after posting this thread initially that there was a workaround for letting computers work with Win Server 2012 Essentials R2 that circumvented their joining a Domain. That's the way (I'm sure) that I'd set this up before. We went through Windows Server 2011(?) which created "Home Groups". So I just wanted to get back where I was before I started cleaning up the server yesterday.

The trick -- I found it somewhere else as opposed to what I did four or five years ago -- is to run an elevated command prompt as "administrator" to execute this:

reg add "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Server\ClientDeployment" /v SkipDomainJoin /t REG_DWORD /d 1

After that, the Connector software works just fine, and I'm "back in bidnis". I spent the day worrying about all sorts of other things, but this was the trick. I think I was just lucky to stumble onto it again, if I created the server back in 2018. Memory gets a bit fogged after about four years . . .

OF COURSE, YOUR COMMENTS HERE ARE ENCOURAGED. I'LL BE LOOKING TO SEE ANY.
 
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BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,308
1,187
126
THE PLOT THICKENS: Revelations And Discoveries I've Made About Win 2012 Essentials R2

My own basic history. I once taught certain computer-related subjects to Chinese graduate students. In so doing, I first created my own home network before we used twisted pair ethernet. I had to do this, I reasoned, so I could experiment with software like ORACLE and enhance my teaching of it.

When I retired from my day job as well as my teaching job, I moved back to the West Coast, bringing with me about three or four PCs -- including one I was using as a file server. I moved into the family home here, and we had three computer users, a workstation for each, and an NT server. As much as I thought I was "keeping up" with the technology, I was no longer trying to replicate a business network on a small scale as I'd done when I was teaching.

The server box was always a redeployed PC workstation with either a SCSI array or a drive pool. So from NT, I migrated to Windows Home Server 2011 with its "Home Groups" improvement over "WORKGROUP" networks. But "Workgroup" was all we needed here. I was involved in other matters over these last ten years or so, and didn't pursue VPN, building a web-site, or using a domain controller.

There was once a time when I'd purchase every Microsoft "bible" on any relevant OS I was using. I've stopped doing that, and I can't give a reason. And there was once a time after retirement I might have sat for the MCSE exam, but I didn't pursue that, either.

Some readers here must by mystified or even amused that I'm talking about Windows 2012, when I should've moved up to Win 2016 by now, or to a later version. But the old Win 2012 has served our purpose in the home, and if it weren't for me, we wouldn't have a server here. Even so, I might have saved myself a couple Franklins and used Win 7 or Win 10 as the default server through sharing on our network.

So it was important for me to find the SkipDomain registry hack to migrate our "workgroup". Even so -- a domain was established, and at one time I was looking forward to that web-site build.

The server's backups of all workstations on the network literally saved our asses about three times over the years, restoring machines to functionality.

HERE'S WHAT i DISCOVERED. We'd been having trouble lately with our daily automated backups to the server, so that they would fail. This began after I had connected (with the connector software from Win 2012) two laptops. I also had a desktop which would not backup to the server, and it was configured with Windows 10. The rest of the machines were Win 7 boxes. I gave one of those away (my brother died in January), and I kept one, then upgraded it to the Win 10 I'd installed on it several years ago, to decide to remove that OS, because I was too enamored of Windows Media Center, so I left Win 7 on it.

I think I have identified the problem with our backups. My Skylake Win 10 system may have "joined" the domain on the server, as the other boxes continued in "workgroup" mode. So I couldn't get backups to succeed, and I started using Macrium for a local backup for that box instead.

The laptops somehow automatically joined the domain, and suddenly the workgroup backups were failing. I pulled the laptops out of the server; sent one to my brother in Nevada. But their backups were suddenly working, while the workgroup systems started failing.

Now I've added my LG laptop back as a machine under the device list of the Win 2012 dashboard, but I executed the registry hack to "skip the domain". And now I find, with my Win 10 upgrade system the only other machine listed, that the LG laptop cannot complete a backup and the dashboard says "backup not set up". The dashboard's "devices" page shows that the server cannot "perform monitoring" on the laptop.

So the "domain" exists, the laptop had been originally installed as a system on the domain, and now it isn't. But as long as I can backup my Kaby Lake and Sandy Bridge boxes (the latter proving successful), I'll be happy until I decide to decommission the server.

All the mainstreamers are so lucky, for not having pursued certain ambitions as I did myself, even after retirement. Are there any mainstreamers who keep a server in their house? No -- they're all out shopping and thumb-typing on their phones.

Nevertheless, I shall prevail! But I'm still asking myself "After the server, what am I going to do instead?"
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,308
1,187
126
A FOOTNOTE -- HOW TO REVERSE THE "SKIP DOMAIN" REGISTRY HACK

Raise an elevated (run as administrator) CMD or command window.

Then, enter or paste the following at the blinking prompt:


reg delete "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Server\ClientDeployment" /v SkipDomainJoin
 
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