Friday, November 24, 2006

Removing the Small Business Server Domain Controller Requirement

Have you ever wanted to use your license of Microsoft Small Business Server, just to use the base Windows Server 2003 portion? I know, I know, there are so many advantages to having a domain and using exchange, etc... etc... etc....

For my purposes, I wasn't interested!

So, going through the SBS install, I decided to skip the follow-on steps after installing Windows Server 2003. All was well for exactly 1 week, when for some reason, the server began shutting down, hourly. Not cool.

After taking a peek at the Event Viewer, I found this:

"This computer must be configured as a domain controller. It will be shut down in 60 minutes. To prevent this computer from shutting down, run Setup on the disk that you used to install the operating system to configure the computer as a domain controller."


Next, I did what I always do, I Googled for a way around this... Luckily I came across a great post here:

The post is about 3/4 of the way down the page by Blarghie.

Worked like a charm and I am very thankful! It saved me a huge headache. Here's the basics of what he said:

The first thing I did was to install the server normally, the first chance you get to cancel the install of SBS bloat is when Windows starts for the first time after install, I seized my opportunity.

What I didn't see however was the quite frankly ridiculous scenario whereby Microsoft had decided to force restart the server every hour and NET SEND spam the network "this server doesn't comply with licensing requirements" across the entire network. Microsoft can stick that.

Anyway, like I said it was Pafts post that brought me here to the forum, and I've found a slightly more elegant solution to this problem rather than just aggressively killing the process until Windows gives up trying to start it again, and I'd like to share it in the hope that Google will re-index and pick it up for others to use. You may have noticed this service cannot be disabled via the MMC snap-in.

My search term on google was: how to stop the SBCore service

Anyway, down to business…
- Tools you'll need – Process Explorer from

As you probably know, you have a service called SBCore or "SBS Core Services", which executes the following process: C:\WINDOWS\system32\sbscrexe.exe

If you kill it, it just restarts – and if you try and stop it you are told Access Denied.

If you fire up Process Explorer, you can select the process and Suspend it, now we can start to disable the thing.

Run RegEdit32.exe and expand the nodes until you reach the following hive / key:

Right click this, hit permissions and give the "Administrators" group on the local machine full access ( don't forget to replace permissions on child nodes ). F5 in regedit and you'll see all of the values and data under this key.

Select the "Start" DWORD and change it from 2 to 4 – this basically sets the service to the "Disabled" state as far as the MMC services snap-in (and windows for that matter) is concerned.

Next, adjust the permissions on the file C:\WINDOWS\system32\sbscrexe.exe so that EVERYONE account is denied any sort of access to this file.

Then go back to process explorer, and kill the sbscrexe.exe process, if it doesn't restart – congratulations!

Load up the services MMC snap-in and you should find that "SBS Core Services" is stopped and marked as Disabled.

Hope this helps you out like it did me!


Eddie said...

thanks for the instructions. i am in a little bit of a bind now. i executed the instructions over an RDP thru windows standard VPN session. disabling sbcore worked fine. demoting the DC worked fine. i restarted the machine now I can't login. any suggestions?

Unknown said...

With this work for SBS 2003 R2 SP2?

Cris said...

you do realize however that in doing this, you are now in violation of licensing of this product. Strongly suggest you read the End User License Agreement.

Concentrics, Inc said...

Funny that I have just run across this. We have been deploying SBS for years and this is the first time during a mirgration to a full blown version of Windows and Exchange that we demoted the SBS server and left it on the network while were moving various services over to the new setup. Thanks for the post it worked great and we can now continue our migration without the server shutting down every hour !! Thanks !

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Ben Jones said...

Thanks! Worked great!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Do you know if It works with SBS 2008?



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Unknown said...

Thanks a lot for the instructions, it worked great!

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Unknown said...

hi there,
Now I have one PDC using SBS2003 and another member server using SBS2003 as well. Previously I have promote the member server to BDC and having the shutdown issue. Then I demote the BDC to member server again, but i still had the shutting down problem. After i follow the instruction above, i manage to disable the SBCOre. the question is.. can i promote back the member server to BDC again.. ??

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Jim Millard said...

You can also achieve it without using procexp. Use "at /interactive hh:mm c:\windows\system32\cmd.exe" (with a time in the near future) to pop up a command shell with SYSTEM credentials. Use CACLS to deny access to Everyone (cacls c:\windows\system32\sbscrexe.exe /D Everyone). Use TASKKILL to stop the service (taskkill /F /T /IM sbscrexe.exe). Use REGEDIT to change the properties for the service; you can also add permissions to the registry key to allow Administrators (or anyone else) to manage the key in the future.