Quick Fix: SBS 2003 Lost Cals

SBS2003This is well known and well documented issue, there is an excellent post from SBS MVP Phillip Elder on his very popular blog about it and has the perfect resolution. http://blog.mpecsinc.ca/2007/09/sbs-lost-cal-recovery-or-reset-cal.html

A basic recap is that if an SBS 2003 gets low on disk space on drive C: (and i mean very low) then the CALs can be lost and the CAL count is reset to zero, or most likely back to 5. This can cause some odd behaviour if you don’t recognise the symptoms. You might see some users in the office unable to connect to Exchange, or file shares. You will also likely have Mobile users unable to sync their devices.

Your event log might look similar to this..

Event Log

You might well be asking yourself why i am bothering to post about this, seeing as it is already well documented.

Well, i am a lazy sod. So after now having to rescue some of my very old (and inherited) SBS 2003 machines with a Dell default install partition of 12gb, i have lost patience with manually copying the autolicstr.cpa file and renaming it, and wrote a batch file to do it for me.

copy c:\windows\system32\autolicstr.cpa "c:\documents and settings\administrator\licstr.cpa"
copy "c:\documents and settings\administrator\licstr.cpa" c:\windows\system32\licstr.cpa
net stop "License Logging"
net start "License Logging"

Just save that in notepad asRepairCals.bat’or similar, and if you need to restore the CALs, just run it.

Another tip, which i have employed is to run CCleaner as a scheduled task.

You can run CCleaner, set your options and run the clean. If you Exit, CCleaner remembers your options, and you can then set a scheduled task like this, with the /AUTO switch.


Depending on how often your disk space is consumed to a dangerous level, you can obviously tweak the schedule to run in good time, (every hour, once a day etc)

Of course the real solution is not to let Dell install your Operating System for you.

About Robert Pearman
Robert Pearman is a UK based Small Business Server enthusiast. He has been working within the SMB IT Industry for what feels like forever. Robert likes Piña colada and taking walks in the rain, on occasion he also enjoys writing about Small Business Technology like Windows Server Essentials or more recently writing PowerShell Scripts. If you're in trouble, and you can find him, maybe you can ask him a question.

5 Responses to Quick Fix: SBS 2003 Lost Cals

  1. JamesH says:

    Impressive successfully managing a 12GB system partition… I have an SBS 2003 with a 25GB (installed by myself some years ago and if only with the benefit of hindsight!) that has about 4GB left, and that is after moving everything I can to another partition. 4GB free space must seem like a dream on a 12GB partition.

    • Yep, we are usually running at or around 400mb free space.

      Do you have any apps installed to C: ? Check the Docs & Settings\Administrator folder as that can be a hog, as well as the application data folders.

      • JamesH says:

        Yes sadly the client part of Trend WFBS is on C: (3GB) – luckily I had the foresight to put the server part on D: (5GB). Such a space hog! In the SBS2011 era I have moved to UTM devices with no AV on the server (MSE on workstations for small clients).

      • I deleted 12gb of old temp files and logs from a trend client yesterday. Make sure none of those folders are too big!

  2. jason says:

    Thanks! This fixed my issue.

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