Sunday, October 09, 2016

OneDrive & Group Policy

This is another departure from my normal blog posts (which are usually about .NET and/or C#), but I had a problem with OneDrive last week and I found a way to fix it, which I will share with you.

My “old” computer is a Dell Venue 11 Pro running Windows 8.1. It’s been rather buggy since I bought the thing several years ago (especially the docking station which needs frequent “re-boots”), so I had attributed my issues to this inherent problem … but I was wrong. 

I noticed last week that OneDrive wasn’t updating and in fact, the little Cloud icon wasn’t even appearing in my system tray. OneDrive hadn’t been running in days and I never noticed it (the Venue isn’t my main computer anymore, as I now have a Surface Pro 4 running Windows 10 … which was having no problems at all with OneDrive). I figured that all I had to do was reboot and all would be fine. It wasn’t. When I rebooted, I noticed this message appear:

I really didn’t know if this had anything to do with my problem with OneDrive, but it definitely did *not* look like a good thing. So, I took a look at the Event Log and all it said was:

The Group Policy Client service failed to start due to the following error:
The service did not respond to the start or control request in a timely fashion.” 

I went to look at the Services (choose “Administrative Tools” under Control Panel, and then open “Computer Management” … click on Services under “Services and Applications”) and sure enough, the Group Policy Client service was not running.

Well, at least it gave me something else to Google. When I did that, I saw other people mentioning this error in respect to OneDrive … or actually, to SkyDrive (the precursor to OneDrive). As it turns out, when I bought my Venue, OneDrive hadn’t come out yet … so I had SkyDrive. When OneDrive arrived (with a Windows Update I assume, I don’t remember), it automatically linked my existing SkyDrive to the new OneDrive … however, my SkyDrive folders still “lived” in my User folder (C:\Users\Bonnie\SkyDrive). And there was the reason I was having a problem … my “standard” User folder was not accessible due to this Group Policy Service not starting.

So, I found this YouTube video by Eugene Robertus who told of a way to fix it by making some changes to the Registry. It’s a long video but I watched it all and, as it turns out, the thing that Eugene says to check for was OK in my Registry.

Go to the Registry key \HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\SvcHost. In the right panel, double-click the “netsvcs” entry to bring up the Edit Multi-String dialog box. Note that I already have an entry in that list for “gpsvc”, which is the Group Policy Service. So why wasn’t that Service running?

… so, back to the drawing board (back to Googling, actually).I found a blog post by a guy who had the exact same problem (everything looked fine in the Registry, GP Service still not running): Group Policy Client Services Error and this guy had the solution. Apparently, it’s possible there’s a blank line in that list in the Registry that’s causing a problem. He said that he went to the bottom of the list and noticed that the cursor was on a new line after the last entry. Just backspace so that the cursor is after the last character of the last entry, click OK. You’ll get a “Warning” message about “empty strings” and it says the Registry Editor will remove all empty strings it finds in that entry. Click OK again, it gets fixed and you’re done. Reboot and voila! No more error message about the Group Policy Service!

And guess what … my OneDrive started working too!

And just for the heck of it, I thought I’d check it out on my Surface Pro 4 too … I didn’t have a problem with OneDrive, but I did notice that the Group Policy Service wasn’t running (apparently though, it doesn’t always run … it’s a triggered service), but I had the same issue with the Registry entry (empty strings) so that got fixed … who knows what else it might have affected.