WDeployConfigWriter Account Issues – Trouble Shooting Web Deploy 2.0 With Lessons Learned

Here’s a small recap of an incident we dealt with recently and that served as a coaching exercise for troubleshooting. It seems we have Web Deploy 2.0 in use for in house deployments of web apps. It seems to be a valued asset as well. At least valuable enough to land a help request on the desk of one of the young, eager, smart, and upward mobile IT Professionals when it stops working and they need some assistance.

Hello ICT,

To deploy our we websites remotely we use web deployment service (see http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd569087(WS.10).aspx for more info).

This service runs under the network service account by default. Deploying fails now. In the security log on the server I find  “The specified account’s password has expired”.

Does anyone know the password of this account?

Best regards,

Hardworking Web Guy In Trouble

Basically, we have enough information to know something went wrong and that they need it to work again. But that’s about it. Password for the network service account expired? They also included an error log and reading it learns us something. The lesson to be learned here: investigate yourself, read the log, interpret them. Don’t let patients give you a diagnosis. Their input is critical, but you need to draw your own conclusions.

An account failed to log on.

                Security ID:                           LOCAL SERVICE
                Account Name:                    LOCAL SERVICE
                Account Domain:                NT AUTHORITY
                Logon ID:                              0x3e5

Logon Type:                                         8

Account For Which Logon Failed:
                Security ID:                           NULL SID
                Account Name:                    WDeployConfigWriter
                Account Domain:                lab.test

Failure Information:
                Failure Reason:                     The specified account’s password has expired.
                Status:                                0xc000006e
                Sub Status:                            0xc0000071

Process Information:
Caller Process ID: 0x1f44
Caller Process Name: C:WindowsSystem32inetsrvWMSvc.exe

What did we just read and learn? No, it’s not the Network Service Account whose password has expired. This doesn’t happen/doesn’t work that way … so that was our first indication that this isn’t quite right in the support ticket. As you can see the real problem account mentioned in the error log:  WDeployConfigWriter. That account is indeed a local account.

Cool, now we check what service runs under that account by looking in the services panel …. none! The easy way to check is to sort on the “Log On As” column. You won’t find WDeployConfigWriter. Right … , what else do we learn from the Services panel. Well we do have service called Web Deployment Agent Service running under the local Network Service account. We can stop and start it just fine so there is nothing wrong with the Network Service account, which is as expected and this service is not our culprit.  What we also learn that this is Web Deploy 2.0.

As the Web Deployment Agent Service has nothing to do with the problem at hand. So where is that WDeployConfigWriter being used and what is it status? Let’s take a look.

Hey, how could this account have expired? This is impossible. Unless they changed it while trying to fix the error. We check this with a quick phone call and yes, they did exactly that.  The good thing is that this web guy is professional and tells us what they did. Some people think this might get them into trouble and won’t do that. It doesn’t change anything, things are what they are, but it does make communication less easy when you discover people act that way… So the lessons here are to double-check & verify what happened if at all possible. Originally the settings were:

They changed them after they ran into issues hop that checking those options might fix it. Well no, expired is expired and you can’t fix it like that. You need indeed to correct the settings if you don’t want the password to expire and even prevent the user from changing it but you also need to set a new password when it has already expired. After doing so we contact the hardworking web guy in trouble to let them test and predict a new error: whatever runs under that Account will now fail to run due to an incorrect password. And guess what? “Unknown user name or bad password” in the security log.

Log Name:      Security
Source:        Microsoft-Windows-Security-Auditing
Date:          24/06/2011 10:30:39
Event ID:      4625
Task Category: Logon
Level:         Information
Keywords:      Audit Failure
User:          N/A
Computer:     server1.lab.test
An account failed to log on.

    Security ID:        LOCAL SERVICE
    Account Name:        LOCAL SERVICE
    Account Domain:        NT AUTHORITY
    Logon ID:        0x3e5

Logon Type:            8

Account For Which Logon Failed:
    Security ID:        NULL SID
    Account Name:        WDeployConfigWriter
    Account Domain:        lab.test

Failure Information:
    Failure Reason:        Unknown user name or bad password.
    Status:            0xc000006d
    Sub Status:        0xc000006a

Process Information:
    Caller Process ID:    0x1f44
    Caller Process Name:    C:WindowsSystem32inetsrvWMSvc.exe


The user wants to repair install or uninstall and reinstall the application to “get a quick fix” but we do not give in and keep troubleshooting. It’s better to learn what the cause really is and how to fix it instead of relying on wishful reinstalling.

So where is the thing that runs under that account? We start a quick search in the registry and on the file system for the account name just in case it’s configured in the registry or a configuration file and let it run while we keep investigating.  We also send a tweet into the universe, as perhaps someone out there knows this and can help out. We search the internet for Web Deploy 2.0 and WDeployConfigWriter. This results in very few hits, hmmm, interesting  … One of them is http://blogs.iis.net/msdeploy/archive/2011/04/05/announcing-web-deploy-2-0-refresh.aspx

Where we learn a few things, the most important is the one line from that blog post I formatted in bold and red from the blog snippet right below. I also enlarged the picture from the blog post to make it readable where you can find in IIS  what we learned here:

Notice that Web Deploy setup created two new local user accounts:

– WDeployConfigWriter, which has Write permissions to the IIS server’s applicationHost.config. This is used by delegation rules for createApp, appPoolNetFx and appPoolPipelineMode.

I’ve included the entire block of text from where this was taken below.

1. Easier setup for non-administrator deployments on IIS7

One of the common requests from our users was to make it easier to setup Web Deploy so non-administrators can publish to their sites. Typically, you will need to do this if you are running a shared hosting environment or if you are administering a build machine and you do not want users to have admin access.

If you launch the Web Deploy installer and choose “Custom”, you will notice a new option, “Configure for Non-administrator Deployments”:

If you choose this option, Web Deploy will automatically create Management Service Delegation rules for the following providers, as well as user the accounts needed for providers like createApp and recycleApp that need elevated privileges.

These are the rules you will have in the Management Service Delegation UI in IIS Manager after you install this component:

Notice that Web Deploy setup created two new local user accounts:

– WDeployConfigWriter, which has Write permissions to the IIS server’s applicationHost.config. This is used by delegation rules for createApp, appPoolNetFx and appPoolPipelineMode.

– WDeployAdmin, which is an administrator. This is used by delegation rules for recycleApp.

If you prefer to create these rules by hand, uncheck the component in the installer. We also provide a PowerShell script for creating delegation rules (more on this later in the post) if you prefer that route.

Well-armed with this information we go have a look at the Management Service Delegation:

Where we indeed find createApp, appPoolNetFx and appPoolPipelineMode:

So now we take a look a bit what we can configure here and  sure enough, by double-clicking on them the Edit Rule form:

So we click on Edit security credentials and are welcomed by this form:

So we enter the account name and the new password we set before (remember to do this for both providers):

Guess what, end user happy, things are working again. Jay! From service down report to the helpdesk to fully operational again in less than an hour with a technology new to the service desk.

How did this happen and did they end up with this funky configuration (expiring password of an account that no one knows where it is used for and where configured)? Aha, operational control => know the configuration of what you use and know why it is configured that way and where it’s configured. Is it a mistake/assumption in the installer that the accounts WDeployConfigWriter and WDeployAdmin have their passwords set to expired and can be changed by the user or did somebody mess with them after the install? Well, I did the test by setting it up on a test server and found that they are indeed installed with their passwords set to expire and that the password can be changed by the user. It assumes that the person doing the install knows and realizes the implications. I’m not saying either setting is wrong but you should know why, when, and where. There is no documentation on this as far as we could find right now and perhaps the installer should mention the benefits/risks of both types of configuration and ask what to choose. This, together with better documentation, could help prevent this issue. As always, no guarantees are given   

Overall lesson: don’t assume things, trust but verify …

Free Support Rant


I blog and help out in news groups because I like to share ideas, solutions and help out when and where I can. I’m active on twitter because I enjoy the discussions, the out loud thinking and the reflection we all get of just throwing ideas, conclusions, opinions, experiences and knowledge in a pool of diverse but very skilled passionate IT Professionals and Developers.

It is not always easy to share information. The potential complexity of environments that may well have other issues and restrictions in combination with the vast amount of possible configurations and designs, both valid and ill advised, make it near to impossible to cover all eventualities. If one of my blog posts does not contain the answer to your specific problem or does not apply to your particular situation, do not complain & moan about it, let alone demand of me to come up with a solution. What is written here are bits and pieces of information which I choose to share because I think they have some value and can help other people out.  I do this in my own time. Really, I am not paid to blog, research technologies or build labs. I do this out of my own interest and because I enjoy it and it has value to me in my own work. I work a lot of hours “for a boss” and those are not always the most esoteric. When you read my “About” page you’ll read the following:

I’m still in the trenches with my boys and gals. Empty suits or hollow bunnies are neither wanted nor needed. In IT you live by the sword and you die by the sword. There is no hiding when you mess up, all our mistakes are in plain sight of everyone using what we build.

That is my reality and I live by it. Perhaps others should try this.  I’ve seen to many ICT “gods” come down from heaven for a short while pushing their latest religion or product. Loudly proclaiming it is the truth and the only way forward. Failure to achieve success is always due to a lack of faith with us subjects, our (at best) mediocre skills or because we have to wait and see the benefits,  much later in time, but we need to keep the faith. When the shit hits the fan those gods are back on the Olympus, pushing daggers into the back of us infidels who couldn’t make it work. No thank you. I think the people I work with know the  strengths and weaknesses of both my self or my solutions. I have however never ever left them out in the cold when something didn’t work out as planned or when things failed. Yes, eventually things, big and small, do fail. How you try and prevent that as much as possible and how you deal with it when it happens is what makes a huge difference. That’s where my professional responsibilities lie, not with some Microsoft bashing, impolite, wannabe who thinks insulting me is a good approach to getting me to solve their issues with a Microsoft product. You know the type, they open a pack of “M$ Sucks Quick Mix” to try and get some “Instant credibility” and fail miserably, they even fail at asking for help.

I am not your free support desk, your dedicated Microsoft technology research engineer or trouble shooter. I’m an IT Pro with a busy job. I think certain people out there need to learn that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Don’t be a “jerk”.