Lingering objects may remain after you bring an out-of-date global catalog server back online

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You bring a domain controller (DC) or global catalog server online after it has been offline for a long time. After it comes online, you observer one or more of the following issues:

  • E-mail messages are not delivered to a user whose user object was moved between domains. After you bring the outdated DC or global catalog server back online, both instances of the user object appear in the global catalog. Both objects have the same e-mail address, so e-mail messages cannot be delivered.
  • A user account that no longer exists still appears in the global address list.
  • A universal group that no longer exists still appears in a user's access token.
  • Other DCs or global catalog servers log events such as EventID 1084, "There is no such object on the server." Further replication is blocked on the affected DCs or global catalog servers.


These problems may occur if the DC or global catalog server has been offline for longer than the value of the Tombstone-Lifetime attribute of user objects.

The Tombstone-Lifetime attribute defines the number of days before a deleted object is removed from the directory services. This assists in removing objects from replicated servers and preventing restores from reintroducing a deleted object. The default value is 180 days. After that time, Active Directory no longer needs to "remember" the change.

If a DC or a global catalog server is offline for longer than the value of the Tombstone-Lifetime attribute, its copy of Active Directory (or the global catalog) may contain objects that have been deleted on the other DCs. However, the other DCs no longer remember that the objects have been deleted. When you bring the offline DC online, it synchronizes its copy of Active Directory  with the rest of the domain. Because the information about the deletions has been discarded, the DC replicates the affected objects (referred to as "lingering objects") back to the rest of the domain. 

In general, AD DS uses a loose-consistency replication model, in which some naming contexts (also known as directory partitions) are read/write and others are read-only. When a DC that receives a replicated object that belongs to a read/write naming context and that object does not already exist in the local copy of the Directory Information Tree (DIT), the DC creates the object. As the replication process continues, the object reappears on all DCs in the domain.

DCs and global catalog servers can also use a strict replication consistency model. Under this model, when the DC receives a replicated object that does not already exist in the local DIT, the DC stops receiving or sending replicated data and logs events such as Event ID 1084, "There is no such object on the server." For more information about strict replication consistency, including the the circumstances under which DCs may use this model by default, see KB 910205, Information about lingering objects in a Windows Server Active Directory forest.

For more information about tombstone issues, see KB216993 Useful shelf life of a system-state backup of Active Directory.


1 Determine whether Active Directory has lingering objects, and avoid future lingering objects

 KB 910205, Information about lingering objects in a Windows Server Active Directory forest, explains several ways in which to determine whether your Active Directory system has accumulated lingering objects. KB 910205 also describes steps you can take to prevent lingering objects from accumulating.

2 Delete lingering objects

If the object should not exist in Active Directory at all (for example, if the object was reintroduced by an outdated domain controller), you can delete the objects with the standard tools (such as ADSIEdit or the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in).

It is easy to remove lingering objects for read/write naming contexts. In Windows Server 2003 and later versions, you can remove lingering objects by using the command repadmin /removelingeringobjects.  For information about how to use RepAdmin, see KB4469619, Active Directory Replication Event ID 1388 or 1988: A lingering object is detected

This article describes how to remove lingering objects that have already appeared in read-only naming contexts such as directory partitions on global catalog servers or Read-Only Domain Controllers (RODCs). The functionality discussed in the "More information" section still exists in newer operating systems and might still be useful to troubleshoot unexpected RepAdmin behavior.

More information

This procedure requires the objectGUID of a DC that has a read/write copy of the object, and the objectGUID of the object itself. If you must remove more than one object, determine whether any of the objects are in a parent/child relationship (you can determine this from the objects' distinguished names). If this is the case, order the deletions so that all of the child objects are deleted before their parent objects.

This procedure has three mains steps, which you have to perform on a computer that has access to the forest (and you have to use a user account that has administrative permissions on the forest):

  1. Obtain the distinguished name and ObjectGUID of the lingering object
  2. Identify a DC in the object domain
  3. Delete the lingering objects. Select one of the following methods:

For troubleshooting information, see the following sections:

1 Obtain the distinguished name and ObjectGUID of the lingering object

The best way to identify the domain in which an object is located (and from that to determine the name of a DC that has a read/write copy of the object) is to retrieve the distinguished name of the object. You can search for the name (or parts of the name) of the object by using the Ldp.exe tool. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Start Ldp.exe.
  2. Select Connection > Connect. In the Server box, type the name of a global catalog server. In the Port box, type 3268, and then select OK.
  3. Select Connection > Bind. Type valid credentials if your current credentials are not sufficient to query all of the global catalog contents. Select OK.
  4. Select View > Tree. Enter the distinguished name of the forest root and then select OK.
  5. In the tree list, right-click the forest root and then select Search.
  6. In the Filter box, type a filter that uses the <attribute> = <value> format.

    For example, to find objects for which the sAMAccountName attribute has a value of testuser, type (sAMAccountName = testuser) in the Filter box. To search for a user object, the following attributes are most useful:
    • cn
    • userPrincipalName
    • sAMAccountName
    • name
    • mail
    • sn
    To search for a group object, the following attributes are most useful:
    • cn
    • sAMAccountName
    • name
  7. Under Scope, select Subtree.
  8. Select the Attributes box and then select the end of the attribute string. Type ;objectGUID at the end of the string.
    LDP Search dialog box
  9. To run the query, select Run.

    The results appear in the main Ldp window.
  10. Determine which, if any, of the objects that are listed in the results should be removed from the global catalog. One indication that you have found a bad object is that the object does not exist on a read/write copy of the naming context.
  11. If the objects that you are looking for are not included in the query results, rephrase the filter and run the search again.
  12. If you have identified a lingering object, note the values of its DN and objectGUID attributes. You will need those values later.

2 Identify a DC in the object domain

The value of the object's DN attribute includes the domain of the object. When you know the domain, you can identify a DC or global catalog server within the domain. To do this, follow these steps.

  1. Check the dc= portions of the DN value. Combine the dc= portions to obtain the domain name.

    For example, if an object has the DN value of  cn=FirstName LastName,cn=Users,dc=name1,dc=name2,dc=com, the object is in the domain.
  2. To locate a DC (or a global catalog server) in this domain, open Active Directory Users and Computers, open the domain container, and then open the Domain Controllers container.
  3. Open an elevated Command Prompt window and enter repadmin /showreps dc-name.
    Repadmin produces results that resemble the following:
    Default-First-Site-Name\WS2016-DC-01DSA Options: IS_GCSite Options: (none)DSA object GUID: 13b233ed-011b-446c-9431-46e1a46ff284DSA invocationID: 24f78175-6905-4eb2-9969-3be92f5fd638
  4. Note the value of the DSA object GUID. This is the objectGUID value of the DC.

3a Delete a few lingering objects from a few global catalog servers

If you have only a few objects and global catalogs, follow these steps to delete the objects by using Ldp.exe:

  1. Use Enterprise Administrator credentials to sign in to each global catalog server that contains a copy of the lingering object by using .
  2. Start Ldp.exe and connect to port 389 on the local domain controller (leave the Server box empty).
  3. Select Connection > Bind. Leave all of the boxes empty (you are already signed in as an Enterprise Administrator).
  4. Select Browse > Modify.
    Modify Object using LDP
  5. Configure the following entries in the Modify dialog box:
    1. Leave the Dn box empty.
    2. In the Attribute box, type RemoveLingeringObject.
    3. In the Values box, type a value that uses the following format:

      <GUID=dcGUID> : <GUID=objectGUID>
    4. Select Operation > Replace, and then select Enter.

      The Entry List box shows the full command.
    5. Select Run.

      The results appear in the main Ldp window, and should resemble the following.
      ***Call Modify...	ldap_modify_s(ld, '(null)',[1] attrs);	Modified "".

3b Delete a large number of lingering objects from several global catalog servers

If you have to delete a large number of lingering objects, you can delete more efficiently by using scripts than by deleting them manually. To build such scripts, use the following steps:

  1. Create a new folder, and in that folder create new files that have the following names:
    • Walkservers.cmd
    • Walkobjects.cmd
    • Modifyrootdse.vbs
    • Server-list.txt
    • Object-list.txt file
  2. Paste the following text into Walkservers.cmd:
    for /f %%j in (server-list.txt) do walkobjects %%j
  3. Paste the following text into Walkobjects.cmd:
    for /f "delims=@" %%i in (object-list.txt) do cscript //NoLogo MODIFYROOTDSE.VBS %1 "%%i" >>update-%1.log
  4. Paste the following text into Modifyrootdse.vbs:
    '********************************************************************'*'* File:        MODIFYROOTDSE.VBS'* Created:     January 2002'* Version:     1.0'*'* Main Function: Writes Active Directory information to clean up '* objects as per: Q314282.'* Usage: Modifyrootdse.vbs <TargetServer> <GUID PAIR>'* Parameter are fed into the script using a pair of batch files.'*'* Copyright (C) 2002 Microsoft Corporation'*'********************************************************************OPTION EXPLICITON ERROR RESUME NEXTDim objDomainDim ObjValue, strServerName, adsLdapPath Dim i'Get the command-line arguments    if Wscript.arguments.count <> 2 Then     Print "Invalid Number of Parameters. Use with WalkServers.CMD and WalkObjects.CMD"    WScript.quitEnd If    strServerName = Wscript.arguments.item(0)    ObjValue = Wscript.arguments.item(1)    adsLdapPath = "LDAP://" & strServerName & "/RootDSE"    Set objDomain = GetObject(adsLdapPath)    If Err.Number <> 0 Then        WScript.Echo "Error opening ROOTDSE. Error number is: " & Err.Number & ". Error description is: " & Err.Description & "."    Set objDomain = Nothing        WScript.quit    End If    objDomain.Put "RemoveLingeringObject", ObjValue    objDomain.Setinfo    If Err.Number = 0 Then       WScript.Echo "Object " & ObjValue & " was removed."Else       WScript.Echo "Object " & ObjValue & " could not be removed. Error number is: " & Err.Number & ". Error description is: " & Err.Description & "."    End IfWScript.Quit
  5. Create a list of all of the fully quallified domain names of the global catalog servers and DCs that contain the lingering objects, and then paste the list into Server-list.txt. Use the fully qualified domain names to avoid DNS suffix searches.
  6. For each lingering object, identify a DC in the object domain that does not have a copy of the lingering object. Usually this is a DC that has a read/write naming context in which you manually deleted the lingering object. As described elsewhere in this article, use RepAdmin to obtain the objectGUID value of each DC.
  7. In Object-list.txt, create a list of GUID pairs, using the following format:

    <GUID=dcGUID> : <GUID=objectGUID>
  8. Run the Walk-servers.cmd file.

For each DC or global catalog server that is listed in Server-list.txt, the scripts generate a log file that is named Update-server-name.log. Each log file contains a line for each object that is to be deleted.

Because the lingering objects may not exist on every listed server, errors in the log files do not necessarily indicate a problem. However, error messages of the form "operation refused" or "operation error" indicate that there is a problem with the GUIDs or with the syntax of the value. If these errors occur, verify the following:

  • Make sure that the DC GUIDs are the correct GUIDs for domain controllers that contain a read/write naming context of the domain that contains the object.
  • Make sure that the object GUIDs identify lingering objects in read-only naming contexts (global catalog servers or RODCs).

Error message when running Walkservers.cmd to modify many lingering objects in the environment

Object <GUID=ae856ce5-839a-4e44-b2fb-f37082ca2555> : <GUID=514f7510-451a-4297-8129-9b4c8ab79axx> could not be removed. Error number is: -2147016672. Error description is: .


This error occurs when the script runs against the GUID of a DC that does not contain a read/write naming context that corresponds to the naming context that contains the lingering object. Verify the location of lingering object by the Ldp.exe tool.


In the following example, the lingering object to be removed is located in the domain. However, the <GUID=ae856ce5-839a-4e44-b2fb-f37082ca2555> entry in the Objects-list.txt file is associated with a DC that resides in the company.local domain. This DC does not have a read/write naming context for the domain.

The following search produces multiple objects that represent the same user ("Joe"), and lists their objectGUID values.

ldap_search_s(ld, "DC=company,DC=local", 2, "(cn=User*)", attrList,  0, &msg)Result <0>: (null)Matched DNs: Getting 4 entries:>> Dn: CN=User\, Joe,OU=Exec,OU=Corporate Users,DC=corp,DC=company,DC=local1> canonicalName: Users/Exec/User, Joe; 1> cn: User, Joe; 1> description: CEO; 1> displayName: User, Joe; 1> distinguishedName: CN=User\, Joe,OU=Exec,OU=Corporate Users,DC=corp,DC=company,DC=local; 4> objectClass: top; person; organizationalPerson; user; 1> objectGUID: 814226ed-3414-4193-b96d-3a5ea4bf9351; 1> name: User, Joe; >> Dn: CN=User\, Joe,OU=Migration,DC=corp,DC=company,DC=local1> canonicalName:, Joe; 1> cn: User, Joe; 1> description: Disabled Account; 1> displayName: User, Joe; 1> distinguishedName: CN=User\, Joe,OU=Migration,DC=corp,DC=company,DC=local; 4> objectClass: top; person; organizationalPerson; user; 1> objectGUID: 514f7510-451a-4297-8129-9b4c8ab79axx; 1> name: User, Joe;  

In this example, presume that there is a DC in the domain that is named CORP-DC-01. Running the command repadmin /showreps CORP-DC-01 produces the objectGUID value c4fd9c30-b433-40a1-a862-9fdf1f804dc8. This GUID replaces the previous GUID in the Objects-list.txt file. The entry for this lingering object now appears as follows: 

<GUID=c4fd9c30-b433-40a1-a862-9fdf1f804dc8> : <GUID=514f7510-451a-4297-8129-9b4c8ab79a7c> 

The first GUID is the GUID of the domain controller in the domain. The second GUID is the GUID of the lingering object. After this change, the Walk-servers.cmd script runs successfully.

Error message 87 when removing lingering objects in the environment

This error might occur when you find objects are in fact not appearing on all DCs that host the naming context, but repadmin /removelingeringobjects does not remove them. This can be a situation when a hub DC replicates new objects it created with global catalog servers, but not with read/write replica DCs in its own domain.

This error is returned only in two cases:

  • The object exists on the reference DC.
  • The object is too young (compared to the current TSL value) to be lingering. 

For an example of the second case, consider a global catalog server that has the following metadata:

Loc.USN       Originating DC   Org.USN  Org.Time/Date        Ver Attribute=======       =============== ========= =============        === =========143543261     d20f71f3-6147-4f80-a0c2-470541ef09e6 104742409 2011-04-18 11:46:541 objectClassUp-To-Dateness Vector of a RW-replica:d20f71f3-6147-4f80-a0c2-470541ef09e6 @ USN 104583382 @ Time 2011-04-17 03:07:40Up-To-Dateness Vector of a GC:d20f71f3-6147-4f80-a0c2-470541ef09e6 @ USN 104762881 @ Time 2011-04-18 16:22:04

In this case the DC created the object after replication with the DCs in its own domain started failing, but it still replicated with global catalog servers in other domains.

    To resolve this issue, let these objects become real lingering objects (aged beyond TSL) and then remove them using the script in this article. To make sure that the data continues to replicate, set Allow Replication With Divergent and Corrupt Partner  on all DCs in the forest.

    If you cannot resolve the errors in the log files by using these methods, you may be experiencing a different problem. Contact Microsoft Product Support Services for additional assistance.