How to repair Software service won’t start on a domain controller or Windows software protection will not start access denied 5. on server 2012 R2.

Good day all,

I had the strangest activation issue today. I decided to detail the issue If I ever see it again. So I must admit, the whole idea came from searching the core team blog. My issue was the Software activation service would not start. This resulted in all of the activation related items failing from the customer perspective.

My particular error code was a little different, but the error verbiage was the same. I considered the verbiage enough to try a few things, and I found success. Its always important to share success.

The Core Team can solve your issue without me, so feel free to consult their article. I am just showing the folder and registry locations I needed to add the SPPSVC to, for my protection service to start. This is apparently only on a Domain Controller, Hence the name.

The Key was to add the NT Service\SPPSVC to some specific locations, both in the Folder system and the Registry. There was a little trick here. You have to deselect the domain, when choosing the account. This caused me to wallow along for much longer, as I never thought of doing this on my own power. That is where the Core Team Saved me. Thank you guys.

Screen shots of my 42DC Server look like:



Just to be clear what I am saying, you are to not use active directory groups when making your search. If you do, the NT SERVICE\SPPSVC will not be

there. So select your local machine and add your group. It should be there.


So now we understand how to make an otherwise mysterious user account show up on a Domain controller, here we go with the folder and registry locations.

  1. The Store Folder Located:

C:\Windows\System32\spp\ – Right click and chose the store folder permissions

2. The SPPSVC registry folder located at the  SPPSVC folder


3. The SoftwareProtection Registry Folder located at

Regedit\Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Software Protection

4. This one, I don’t know if this was necessary, so I would not do this unless it was your last gasp:

  • Take ownership of C:\Windows\System32\SPPSVC.EXE
  • Make sure you screen shot original permissions and put them back
  • Add SPPSVC as needed.

Those were the locations I found. Now I did not find this all on one MS KB, so I certainly don’t recommend this is a true fix for an issue. I simply found this in the moment of trying to get a customer back into functionality. Please look to the core team for updated information. This will supersede anything I have here today.


Update 6/22/2017


So in my one particular case, there was an additional location that changed. I had to find it with PROCMON by sysinternals. Using Procmon, I followed the MS blog to capture the traffic. I did not even need to filter the traffic. It clearly showed the WPA folder in the registry was missing a permission. Since the Service stared, after I made this change, It was definately the network service that was missing:

Here is the Key Location in regedit:



I hope this may help get you out of a Jam, and I hope your licensing functions well.