The Windows 2000 Network Diagnostics (Netdiag) tool is often the first line of defense in diagnosing and correcting Active Directory (AD) and networking problems. (The Domain Controller Diagnostics—Dcdiag—tool is also a popular diagnostic tool. Both tools are included with the Windows 2000 Support Tools and are available for download from Microsoft's Web site at http://www.microsoft.com./downloads.) Unfortunately, administrators who thought they were wise to immediately disable the Remote Registry Service in Win2K will find that Netdiag receives a puzzling and disturbing error as a result of this service being disabled.

If you've disabled or set the Remote Registry Service startup type to Manual, any attempt to run Netdiag from a command prompt, even locally, will result in the error message \[FATAL\] Failed to get system information of this machine. This message might lead an administrator to believe that the domain controller (DC) or AD configuration is corrupt, and the Dependencies tab of the Remote Registry Service provides little troubleshooting help because it reveals no dependency between the service and the Netdiag tool.

To work around this frustrating limitation, whenever you need Netdiag (or Dcdiag), go to the Control Panel Services applet and enable the Remote Registry Service. However, unless other services or applications depend on the Remote Registry Service, a good practice is to keep this service disabled until you need to use Netdiag or Dcdiag.