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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

WDS Server not Responding to PXE Requests?

A curious issue befell me yesterday. I was trying to image a PC using our tried and true WDS server. I think WDS is WAY too complicated, and for some reason my eyes start to gloss over when I'm trying to read the documentation. This Windows service really needs an easy button. I realize the complexity lends to WDS's vast customization, but I've got a fairly simple environment; it shouldn't be this complicated.

Anyway, so I press F12 to PXE boot the computer, and it times out. I restart my DHCP service, which is on a different server, double-check that the DHCP options are what they should be, and try again, multiple times. Rebooting the WDS server accomplished zilch. I try a network drop in a different office; nothing. I try a new laptop and it works! Well, so it's not DHCP, and it's not the WDS server. It's not the network. What the crap?

Multiple blog posts and Technet articles regurgitate the same advice, that the DHCP settings are wrong. Nope. THEN I finally found the needle in the haystack, this Technet post.

The first solution outlined was a bit scary: run WDSUTIL /delete-AutoAddDevices /devicetype:approveddevices

In the past, I removed computers listed in the "Active Directory Prestaged Devices" only to find that they had also been removed from Active Directory. Again, I'll admit that I don't really know what I'm doing with this thing. I claim ignorance! So, removing devices with WDSUTIL is scary to me.

The second option, though, turned out to be the magical one that made everything work again!

1. On the WDS server, open Windows Deployment Services and stop the services.
2. Copy all files in \RemoteInstall\Mgmt and paste them to a temp folder
3. Start the WDS service (those files will be recreated)
4. Try your PXE boot.
5. When it works, delete the files you copied to the temp folder


  1. For some reason, it fried up my WDS Server that wouldn't start anymore.
    Even rebooting the server did not solve the problem.
    Found Event 7024 stating the WDSServer service terminated with the following service-specific error: This shared resource does not exist.
    Then I found
    with Mr Garibaldo's advice:
    On the WDS Server run the following commands in an Elevated Command Prompt:

    WDSUtil /Uninitialize-Server
    WDSUtil /Initialize-Server /reminst:”E:\RemoteInstall”

    I only substituted E: with D:, as on my server, the RemoteInstall folder was on drive D: