30 October 2018

SQL Server Troubleshooting: Login Failed for User

    Since the installation of an SQL Server 2017 on a virtual machine (VM) in the Microsoft Cloud started to appear in the error log records with the following message:

Login failed for user '<domain>\<computer>$'. Reason: Could not find a login matching the name provided. [CLIENT: <local machine>]
Error: 18456, Severity: 14, State: 5.

   From the text it seemed like a permission problem, thing confirmed by the documentation (see [1]), the Error Number and State correspond to a „User Id is not valid“ situation. In a first step I attempted to give permissions to the local account (dollar sign included). The account wasn’t found in the Active Directory (AD), though by typing the account directly in the “Login name” I managed to give temporarily sysadmin permission to the account. The error continued to appear in the error log. I looked then at the accounts under which the SQL Services run - nothing suspect in there.

   Except the error message, which was appearing with an alarming frequency (a few seconds apart), everything seemed to be working on the server. The volume of  records (a few hundred thousands over a few days) bloating the error log, as well the fact that I didn’t knew what’s going on made me take the time and further investigate the issue.

  Looking today at the Windows Logs for Applications I observed that the error is caused by an account used for the Microsoft SQL Server IaaS Agent and IaaS Query Service. Once I gave permissions to the account the error disappeared.

   The search for a best practice on what permissions to give to the IaaS Agent and IaaS Query Service lead me to [2]. To quote, the “Agent Service needs Local System rights to be able to install and configure SQL Server, attach disks and enable storage pool and manage automated security patching of Windows and SQL server”, while the “IaaS Query Service is started with an NT Service account which is a Sys Admin on the SQL Server”. In fact, this was the only resource I found that made a reference to the IaaS Query Service.

   This was just one of the many scenarios in which the above error appears. For more information see for example  [3], [4] or [5].

[1] Microsoft (2017) MSSQLSERVER_18456 [Online] Available from: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sql/relational-databases/errors-events/mssqlserver-18456-database-engine-error?view=sql-server-2017
[2] SQL Database Engine Blog (2018) SQL Server IaaS Extension Query Service for SQL Server on Azure VM, by Mine Tokus Altug [Online] Available from:  https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/sqlserverstorageengine/2018/10/25/sql-server-iaas-extension-query-service-for-sql-server-on-azure-vm/
[3] Microsoft Support (2018) "Login failed for user" error message when you log on to SQL Server [Online] Available from: https://support.microsoft.com/en-sg/help/555332/login-failed-for-user-error-message-when-you-log-on-to-sql-server
[4] Microsoft Technet (2018) How to Troubleshoot Connecting to the SQL Server Database [Online] Available from: Engine https://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/2102.how-to-troubleshoot-connecting-to-the-sql-server-database-engine.aspx 
[5] Microsoft Blogs (2011)Troubleshoot Connectivity/Login failures (18456 State x) with SQL Server, by Sakthivel Chidambaram [Online] Available from: https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/sqlsakthi/2011/02/06/troubleshoot-connectivitylogin-failures-18456-state-x-with-sql-server/

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