SBS 2003 Shows 5 Licenses Instead of 20

licenseiconThe SoftwareDistribution.log file on a client’s SBS system went insane and spooled to 66GB and filled up their C: partition. Deleting it was easy enough, but we had a larger issue that didn’t reveal itself until a little later — the server’s licensing database corrupted and the Server Manager was showing only 5 licenses instead of 20, and when the 11th person tried to log on (I assume MS isn’t heartless and gives you some wiggle room before dropping the banhammer) they were shut out.

A restart of the license logging service provided temporary relief, but I was getting ready to head over there to find the license keys that shipped with the server back in 2009.

But, the IT community is nothing if not a bunch of people who watch each other’s backs, and I must throw a GIANT THANK YOU to Chris Knight, an IT guy from halfway across the world in Tasmania, who posted an article — seven years ago!! —  “Small Business Server 2003 – The Dreaded 5 CAL Reset Issue” on his blog.

Long story short, MS makes a backup of your license file called autolicstr.cpa which lives in c:\windows\system32.  It’s made at the time of license install and it should be a copy of licstr.cpa which also lives in the system32 directory.

But, if, like me, your licstr.cpa gets corrupted, you can just:

  1. Stop the License Logging Service
  2. Copy autolicstr.cpa over licstr.cpa
  3. Restart the License Logging Service
  4. Verify in Server Manager that your licenses are back

Worked for me and my client is thrilled; and best of all, I didn’t have to leave my office.