Windows Server 2012 Essentials Update Rollup 3 has arrived, with DNS fixes

The “DNS auto-detect and configure” feature turns on after Connector is installed on clients. This feature tries to find the server that is running Windows Server 2012 Essentials, and then uses the server’s address as the client’s DNS address. This may cause the Internet connection to be temporarily disconnected in some network environments.

Update Rollup 3  introduces some new solutions to skip DNS auto-detect and configuration on the clients.

If you already know about the longstanding issue with DNS on client machines that are connected to your Windows Server 2012 Essentials, and have recently found your client connectors got updated with UR3 (Update Rollup 3), then this article (with video) is for you! If you have to reboot or take down your Window Server 2012 Essentials system, your remote systems will be stuck, with no way to surf the web. That’s not good. This article is all about breaking that dependency, giving back your independency!

Every time a rollup comes along, I have a systems to clean up, many of them not in my home. It’s getting a bit old, this patching things up temporarily on all client systems by doing the usual stopping of a service, then setting back to “Obtain DNS server address automatically” which I explained here. This time, there’s a more elegant and more permanent way to handle this. It’s not perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction. For me, well, I’m really just frankly buying myself some time, before I rebuild with Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials.

UR3 is seen as KB283201 in the Windows Update History on your WS2012E system, pictured below.

UR3 is seen as KB283201 in the Windows Update History on your WS2012E system.

UR3 is seen as KB283201 in the Windows Update History on your WS2012E system.


1) Perform the server-side registry fix explained here:

This first fix will prevent you from having to fiddle with any future systems you install the client connector on, so they won’t have their DNS changed from DHCP to the IP of  your WS2012E server.

You can also change the behavior of all clients that are managed by a Windows Server Essentials server. To do this, set a DWORD-type registry value named SkipAutoDnsConfig in the following path:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Server\Networking\ClientDns
    Then, set the registry value to 1.
  • Note After this solution is applied, all clients that are connected to the Windows Server 2012 Essentials server skip the DNS configure feature. The existing clients that were connected to the Windows Server 2012 Essentials server before this change must reinstall the Connector and then reconnect to the Windows Server 2012 Essentials server.

After Update Rollup 3  is installed, all the clients that are joined to the Windows Server Essentials server automatically skip the DNS detection. The existing clients that were connected to the Windows Server Essentials server before the update rollup was installed must reconnect to the Windows Server 2012 Essentials server.


2) Perform the client-side registry fix explained here:
(then restart the “Windows Server LAN Configuration” service)

This second fix will prevent the connected client machines from having their DNS settings messed with in the future, by that “Windows Server LAN Configuration” service I discovered and blogged about, way back in Sep 2012 here.

SkipAutoDNSServerDetectionTo skip the automatic DNS detection on a client that is managed by Windows Server Essentials, add a String-type registry value named SkipAutoDNSServerDetection in the following path:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Server\Networking\ServerDiscovery

Then, set the registry value to true.

Restart the 'Windows Server LAN Configuration' serviceThis registry change takes effect immediately, no reboot or logoff/logon required, and you can also close regedit now.

Finally, don’t forget to restart the “Windows Server LAN Configuration” service by launching services.msc, right-clicking on the service, and choosing “Restart”.


3) Perform one last client-side TCP/IP reconfiguration, explained here:

Change the TCP/IPv4 settings of all your network adapters, including Hamachi, VMware, and NICs not in current active use, making sure they’re all showing “Obtain DNS server address automatically” turned back on, with step-by-step set of clear screenshots in the explanation. No reboot needed, changes take effect immediately.
If a video walkthrough of the process of cleaning up the client PC sounds good to you, check out the video below, where I walk you through each and every step, on a Yoga 13 running Windows 8.1.

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  • Greg Welch

    Very nice write-up and video, they finally did it :)

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  • Scott Baker

    Does 2012 Essentials R2 have this same issue?

    • Paul Braren

      One of my many little projects I plan to test (or research) soon (hoping to sneak that one in next week). Sorry I’m so behind on things (too much great new stuff released all in the last 8 weeks)!

      • Scott Baker

        I just tried the following:
        - ran all updates for a Windows 8.0 64 bit client and server essentials 2012 R2
        - ran the skip domain join registry command on the client and restarted
        - ran the server connector and restarted
        - checked the dns settings and they ARE set to the server’s IP

        oh well :(

        • Paul Braren

          Well, aren’t you the kill-joy! Just messing with you. Thank you for reporting your results. Since there’s no huge feature wooing me to move to R2, your test has me now more likely to simply wait until UR1 for R2, when presumably they’ll have this all worked out. It’s just so darn bad that there’s no direct upgrade from Essentials to Essentials R2 (so I’d have 5TB of daily PC backups to start all over again, takes a week or two to get through those 14 systems first backups, sigh)…

  • Scott Baker

    I noticed that your solution does work for my already connected clients. However, until I went back in and deleted the server side registry entry. I was unable to connect any additional new clients.

    • Paul Braren

      Wow, that’s strange, and good to know! I do recall adding several new clients since I did this, so for some reason my config isn’t “broken”. You’ve got my attention, perhaps we can easily figure out what was different about my situation versus yours, if you’re interested In my case, UR3 was to the server, and immediately rebooted, so very quickly, most of the clients already had it too (new connector auto-installed). I then went in to all the clients to add the registry keys, and clean up their DNS, hopefully for the last time. I didn’t uninstall/reinstall any client connectors.

      Is this similar to your timeline of events?

      • Scott Baker

        I did the same thing and had no issues with existing clients. I assumed that on new clients I didn’t need to do anything. Is that not true?

        When starting the connector install I got the old “can’t find server” screen. When I removed the server side registry entry – new clients could connect with no issues.

        • Paul Braren

          Let me think. I’m not 100% certain that I didn’t have to do anything on new clients, as I do recall that I did the domain skip join registry tweak, not sure if I had to do the other client side registry tweak or not (which is the point of the server side tweak, so you hopefully wouldn’t have to fiddle with new clients). I guess to really know I’d need to find another pristine machine to try this with. If I get a chance (before moving to R2), I’ll let you, and everybody else, know the results. Frankly, I was sort of delaying moving to R2 until I have the time (rebuilding 5TB of backups on systems inside and outside my home takes time), and the inclination (right now I don’t, given DNS issue not really fixed there yet).

          Perhaps UR1 for R2 will come out soon, with DNS fix. Then might be the time for my rebuild project (since Essentials cannot be upgraded to Essentials R2).