Domain cached logons: no warning or notification

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When using Windows NT 4.0, if a domain controller could not be contacted at the time your system was logging on, you were given the warning: "A domain controller for your domain could not be contacted. You have been logged on using cached account information. Changes to your profile since you last logged on may not be available."

If you had previously logged onto that system with a domain account, Windows NT would log you on the system using that domain account's locally stored profile, or cached credentials, to allow you access to the system. This is important to know because most network resources require you to be authenticated with a domain controller in order to access them. And if you are logged on using cached credentials, then you will be denied access to them. This warning has been disabled by default in Windows 2000 but can be re-enabled by performing the following:

  1. Start the registry editor (Regedit.exe).
  2. Move to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon.
  3. From the Edit menu select New - String Value.
  4. Enter a name of ReportControllerMissing and press Enter.
  5. Double click the new value and set to TRUE (must be uppercase). Click OK.


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for each user who you wish to have controller missing message displayed perform the following:

  1. Start the registry editor (Regedit.exe).
  2. Move to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon.
  3. From the Edit menu, select New - DWORD Value.
  4. Enter a name of ReportDC and press Enter.
  5. Double click the new value and set to 1. Click OK.

You may want to automate this via a logon script or via a policy template. This warning was probably removed by default since most users would not understand the warning and they would just ignored it, so be selective about re-enabling.

If you find yourself seemingly logged onto the domain, yet cannot access network resources then you may be logged on using cached credentials. To verify this, open a command prompt and type: set. The output displays something similar to the text below.

After typing the SET command at a command prompt, find LOGONSERVER in the output that the SET command displayed. If LOGONSERVER is set to the name of your computer, you have been logged on using cached credentials. If LOGONSERVER is set to the name of a domain controller, you have been logged on to the domain:


ALLUSERSPROFILE=C:\Documents and Settings\All Users
APPDATA=C:\Documents and Settings\(username)\Application Data
CommonProgramFiles=C:\Program Files\Common Files
LOGONSERVER=\\(domain controller or local pc)   
PROCESSOR_IDENTIFIER=x86 Family 6 Model 8 Stepping 6, GenuineIntel
ProgramFiles=C:\Program Files
USERPROFILE=C:\Documents and Settings\(username)

This was first published in July 2003

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