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Sharing my knowlege about SQL Server Troubleshooting Skills

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Help: Getting error “Value cannot be null” while opening management studio. Which value?

Posted by blakhani on July 23, 2012

One of my friend emailed me today to troubleshoot a problem with SQL Server Management Studio. Here is the problem statement in his own words.

Hey Balmukund,
I know you are the one you can save me now.

I have a problem with my production SQL Server. When I am trying to connect via management studio, I am getting below error


Once I hit OK, I can get in to management studio but can’t expand any node completely.

Using Bingoogle, I found that this can be rectified by tweaking some registry entries. I do not want to take that route, instead want to uninstall only SSMS and install it back.

One of your reply on MSDN shows that you were not able to reproduce the problem. Let me know if you want to troubleshoot this live with me.

Friend:waiting your comments,
<Name not displayed>

For better search here is the text of the message

TITLE: Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio
Value cannot be null.
Parameter name: viewInfo (Microsoft.SqlServer.Management.SqlStudio.Explorer)

Once I reached office, I pinged him today and started my day! I followed my usual ways of troubleshooting with a series of question to nail down the problem. Here we go.

<<< Start of Chat Session>>>

Balmukund: Hey.. Just came to office and saw your email. Are you ready to work now?
Friend: Hey Balmukund, Thanks for pinging back. I am ready to work now.

Balmukund: Are you able to connect the same SQL instance from other machines?
Friend: Never tried, let me try right now! (1 min pause) yes, I can.

Balmukund: Could you please share your desktop and let’s see what’s going on?
Friend: Sure!

Balmukund: Okay, I can see your desktop now. Show me the error again.
Friend: There you go! As you can see, I am unable to expand any node completely. It ends up in same error.

Balmukund: Could you please open “New Query” window?
Friend: Let me try as I never did that after seeing this error. (5 second pause). Ouch, another error!


Balmukund: Hmm.. Please highlight the windows and hit Ctrl + C on your keyboard and then paste in chat windows.
Friend: What that would do? Copy image?

Balmukund: No, copy the text of the message.
Friend: Wow. that’s interesting. Here it is

Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio
The filename, directory name, or volume label syntax is incorrect. (Exception from HRESULT: 0x8007007B)

Balmukund: Thanks. This sounds interesting.
Friend: Really! What’s next?

Balmukund: Since you confirmed that the issue is happening with the specific machine and you are able to connect to same SQL instance via SSMS on other machine then the error is specific to this machine settings. Agree?
Friend: Absolutely.

Balmukund: Now, lets download process monitor and run that tool. Here is the link or you can go to and search for procmon to download exe directly.
Friend: Done. Let me run the tool now.

Balmukund: Yes please. Start the data capture, reproduce the error and stop data capture.
Friend: Okay. Done. The is a lot of information. How would you find problem with this?

Balmukund: Lets apply the filter for process name = ssms.exe using Filter in menu bar


Friend: Okay. that has bought down the information captured to only ssms.exe.

Balmukund: Do you see any access to path which is not valid? Do you see “Name Invalid” in Results column?
Friend: Nope.

Balmukund: Okay. Click on New query windows and get other error. Do you see it now?
Friend: Yes. Its trying to access the path “C:\Users\demouser\AppData\Local\Temp;x:\SQL”

Balmukund: Okay. Let me take a screenshot.
Friend: Sure. I am sure you are going to write a blog.

Balmukund: Yes, of course. I have found earlier that few have hit the same null error.


Balmukund: It says temp in the path and also X drive. Do you have that drive?
Friend: No, its not there.

Balmukund: Okay. Could you please open command prompt and type “Set T” and show me the output?
Friend: Sure.


Balmukund: I think that explains the issue. TEMP path of your environment variable is incorrect. Can you please correct it?
Friend: Can you tell me steps to change?

Balmukund: Sure.  My Computer > Right Click > Properties. And then choose “Advanced”. Then click on “Environment Variables”


Balmukund: Now, change TMP and TEMP to valid location. On my machines its “%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Temp”
Friend: Done.

Balmukund: Now, logoff and log back in.
Friend: Sure. Let me Try…

After 2 min….

Friend: You are the man!
Balmukund: I know <smiley>  Is that working now?

Friend: Of course, Yes!!!! Thanks a ton! You saved me from uninstalling SQL Management Studio.
Balmukund: Anytime! Glad I could help.

<<< End of Chat Session>>>

Later, I search on internet and found various peoples getting same error after installing few softwares. Hopefully this blog will help someone in the world! Here are the few items:

Hopefully this would help someone in the world.

Balmukund Lakhani
Twitter @blakhani


Posted in Screenshot, SQL Server, SQL Server Management Studio, SSMS | 32 Comments »

Help: SQL Server Management Studio is allowing me to connect only to Database Engine! What’s wrong?

Posted by blakhani on May 10, 2012

This blog is an outcome of one of internal email thread where SQL Server Management Studio was allowing to connect only “Database Services” and “SQL Azure”. A picture is worth a thousand words, so here it is:


Analysis Services, Integration Services, Reporting Services are grayed out/disabled. I thought that this might be due to SSMS Express but looking at “Help” > “about” in Management Studio showed that it was full version.


“Copy Info” gives you this information.

Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio                        11.0.2100.60
Microsoft Analysis Services Client Tools                        11.0.2100.60
Microsoft Data Access Components (MDAC)                        6.1.7601.17514
Microsoft MSXML                        3.0 6.0
Microsoft Internet Explorer                        8.0.7601.17514
Microsoft .NET Framework                        4.0.30319.237
Operating System                        6.1.7601


While doing some more research, I remember setup screen had option for Management Tools – Basic and Complete. here is the screenshot of setup screen with both features highlighted.



I guess the feature description explains the behavior. If you want to find what was the option you selected, then SQL setup logs are your friend! [One more trick at the end of the blog]

C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\110\Setup Bootstrap\Log\DateTimeStamp\ConfigurationFile.ini

To repro the issue, I selected only Basic and this is what you would see in ConfigurationFile


Once setup completes, you would see same behavior which for which I am writing the blog. Now, to fix the issue we need to add “Management Tools – Complete”. Launch “SQL Server Installation Center” > Installation > “New SQL Server stand-alone installation or add features to an existing installation” . Go through the Wizard and choose as below:


and then


Now you should see FEATURES=ADV_SSMS in ConfigurationFile.ini and once you finish the setup, you should be able to select any option.


If you are not comfortable looking at Setup Logs, you can also use “Installed SQL Server features discovery Report” from “SQL Server Installation Center” > “Tools” Menu

Once you click on hyperlink and launch the report, it would show something like below.

08_Discovery Report

So after Adding Management Tools Complete, I could see that in report.

Hope this would help someone in the world!

Balmukund Lakhani
Twitter @blakhani

Posted in Denali, disabled, grayed out, Images, Management Tools Basic, Management Tools Complete, Screenshot, SQL Server 2012, SQL Server Management Studio, SSMS | 9 Comments »

Step by Step – Configuring SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn in Windows 7 Virtual Environment (Part 1)

Posted by blakhani on May 3, 2012

I have been demonstrating AlwaysOn feature to various audiences on various forums (TechEd, SQL Saturday, Virtual TechDays etc.). I have been using Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V to create multiple machine and demonstrate the feature. Someone asked me if he can do the same thing using his Windows 7 laptop? I tried looking at virtualization techniques available on Windows 7 and I found that it should be possible. I have tried to make it as descriptive as possible with step by step screenshots to configure whole setup.This topic would be a multipart series.

  1. Configure Windows 7 to use Virtualization and Configure three machines (One domain controller, two member servers). Also configure networking between them.
  2. Create Domain and configure the machines to make sure they are able to talk to each other.
  3. Install SQL Server 2012 on the servers.
  4. Configure AlwaysOn.

First download Windows Virtual PC on Windows 7 machine. Go to and choose below option. I am not going to Install Windows XP mode.


One clicked, choose your platform and language and click on download button.


This would install Windows Update to enable Virtual PC

03_Windows Installer


Restart the machine and you should be able to see below under "Start” > “Programs” > “Windows Virtual PC”

04_Windows Virual PC Shortcut

Next step would be to download the Virtual Hard Disk (a.k.a. VHD) file which I can use to configure my machine. Note that You need to use 32 bit images to make this work. Here is the link to download Windows Server 2008 images (Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition x86 (Full Install) VHD)

There are three parts which you need to download and then extract to user by Virtual PC. It would look like below.

05_Downloaded VHD

Double Click on the File and Extract the data into “C:\VHDs\DC” folder as shown below:


Once extraction is complete, make three copies of the vhd (Windows2008Fullx86Ent) file and keep them in separate folders as shown below. [I am showing only two, same exists for Srv2 also]


Lets add the machine to Virtual PC. Open the UI from "Start” > “Programs” > “Windows Virtual PC” > “Windows Virtual PC” and choose “Create virtual machine”

08_Create Machine 

Follow the wizard and create DC

09_Create Machine1 

10_Create Machine_Mem

11_Create Machine_Disk

One done, lets go to network setting and choose “Internal Network” This is because I don’t want to create domain controller in my office domain network.

Right Click on DC and choose “Settings”


Go to Networking option and choose “Internal Network”


Now start the first machine and make sure we are able to log in.


You need to follow few steps which are pretty self-explanatory. It would also as you to set machine name (I have given name as DC) new password for Administrator. Once you are done with that, this is what you should see 🙂


As homework, before moving to second part, you need to do the same thing with two more machines and here is what you should see in Windows Virtual PC.

16_Three Machines

See you at next part of Series!

Hope this would help someone in the world!

Balmukund Lakhani
Twitter @blakhani

Posted in AlwaysOn, Denali, Images, Installation, Installation Guide, Introduction, screen shot, Screenshot, SQL Server 2012, Step by Step | 4 Comments »