Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud
User Guide for Windows Instances

Troubleshooting Windows Instances

The following procedures and tips can help you troubleshoot problems with your Amazon EC2 Windows instances.

If you need additional help, you can post a question to the Amazon EC2 forum. Be sure to post the ID of your instance and any error messages, including error messages available through console output.

To get additional information for troubleshooting problems with your instance, use Using EC2Rescue for Windows Server. For information about troubleshooting issues with PV drivers, see Troubleshooting PV Drivers.

High CPU usage shortly after Windows starts

If Windows Update is set to Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them (the default instance setting) this check can consume anywhere from 50 - 99% of the CPU on the instance. If this CPU consumption causes problems for your applications, you can manually change Windows Update settings in Control Panel or you can use the following script in the Amazon EC2 user data field:

reg add "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate\Auto Update" /v AUOptions /t REG_DWORD /d 3 /f net stop wuauserv net start wuauserv

When you execute this script specify a value for /d. The default value is 3. Possible values include the following:

  • Never check for updates

  • Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them

  • Download updates but let me choose whether to install them

  • Install updates automatically

To modify the user data for a Amazon EBS-backed instance

  1. Open the Amazon EC2 console at

  2. In the navigation pane, choose Instances, and select the instance.

  3. Choose Actions, select Instance State, and then choose Stop.

  4. In the confirmation dialog box, select Yes, Stop. It can take a few minutes for the instance to stop.

  5. With the instance still selected, select Actions, select Instance Settings, and then choose View/Change User Data. Note that you can't change the user data if the instance is running, but you can view it.

  6. In the View/Change User Data dialog box, update the user data, and then choose Save.

After you modify the user data for your instance, you can execute it. For more information, see User Data Execution.

No console output

For Windows instances, the instance console displays the output from the EC2Config service running on the instance. The output logs the status of tasks performed during the Windows boot process. If Windows boots successfully, the last message logged is Windows is Ready to use. Note that you can also display event log messages in the console, but this feature is not enabled by default. For more information, see Ec2 Service Properties.

To get the console output for your instance using the Amazon EC2 console, select the instance, click Actions, select Instance Settings, and then click Get System Log. To get the console output using the command line, use one of the following commands: get-console-output (AWS CLI) or Get-EC2ConsoleOutput (AWS Tools for Windows PowerShell).

If the console output is empty, it could indicate an issue with the EC2Config service, such as a misconfigured configuration file, or that Windows failed to boot properly. To fix the issue, download and install the latest version of EC2Config. For more information, see Installing the Latest Version of EC2Config.

Instance terminates immediately

After you launch an instance, we recommend that you check its status to confirm that it goes from the pending status to the running status, and not the terminated status.

If the instance terminates immediately, you can use the Amazon EC2 console or command line to get information about the reason that the instance terminated.

To get the reason that an instance terminated using the console

  1. Open the Amazon EC2 console.

  2. In the navigation pane, choose Instances to display the instance details.

  3. Select your instance.

  4. In the Description tab, locate the reason next to the label State transition reason. If the instance is still running, there's typically no reason listed. If you've explicitly stopped or terminated the instance, the reason is User initiated shutdown.

To get the reason that an instance terminated using the command line

Use the describe-instances command (AWS CLI) with the ID of the instance. Look for the StateReason element in the output.

Remote Desktop can't connect to the remote computer

Try the following to resolve issues related to connecting to your instance:

  • Verify that you're using the correct public DNS hostname. (In the Amazon EC2 console, select the instance and check Public DNS (IPv4) in the details pane.) If your instance is in a VPC and you do not see a public DNS name, you must enable DNS hostnames. For more information, see Using DNS with Your VPC in the Amazon VPC User Guide.

  • Verify that your instance has a public IPv4 address. If not, you can associate an Elastic IP address with your instance. For more information, see Elastic IP Addresses.

  • To connect to your instance using an IPv6 address, check that your local computer has an IPv6 address and is configured to use IPv6. If you launched an instance from a Windows Server 2008 SP2 AMI or earlier, your instance is not automatically configured to recognize an IPv6 address assigned to the instance. For more information, see Configure IPv6 on Your Instances in the Amazon VPC User Guide.

  • Verify that your security group has a rule that allows RDP access. For more information, see Create a Security Group.

  • If you copied the password but get the error Your credentials did not work, try typing them manually when prompted. It's possible that you missed a character or got an extra whitespace character when you copied the password.

  • Verify that the instance has passed status checks. For more information, see Status Checks for Your Instances and Troubleshooting Instances with Failed Status Checks (Amazon EC2 User Guide for Linux Instances).

  • [EC2-VPC] Verify that the route table for the subnet has a route that sends all traffic destined outside the VPC to the Internet gateway for the VPC. For more information, see Creating a Custom Route Table (Internet Gateways) in the Amazon VPC User Guide.

  • Verify that Windows Firewall, or other firewall software, is not blocking RDP traffic to the instance. We recommend that you disable Windows Firewall and control access to your instance using security group rules.

    To disable Windows Firewall on a Windows instance that you can't connect to

    1. Stop the affected instance and detach its root volume.

    2. Launch a temporary instance in the same Availability Zone as the affected instance.


      If your temporary instance is based on the same AMI that the original instance is based on, and the operating system is later than Windows Server 2003, you must complete additional steps or you won't be able to boot the original instance after you restore its root volume because of a disk signature collision. Alternatively, select a different AMI for the temporary instance. For example, if the original instance uses the AWS Windows AMI for Windows Server 2008 R2, launch the temporary instance using the AWS Windows AMI for Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2003. (To find an AMI for Windows Server 2003, search for an AMI using the name Windows_Server-2003-R2_SP2.)

    3. Attach the root volume from the affected instance to this temporary instance. Connect to the temporary instance, open the Disk Management utility, and bring the drive online.

    4. Open Regedit and select HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. From the File menu, choose Load Hive. Select the drive, open the file Windows\System32\config\SYSTEM, and specify a key name when prompted (you can use any name).

    5. Select the key you just loaded and navigate to ControlSet001\Services\SharedAccess\Parameters\FirewallPolicy. For each key with a name of the form xxxxProfile, select the key and change EnableFirewall from 1 to 0. Select the key again, and from the File menu, choose Unload Hive.

    6. (Optional) If your temporary instance is based on the same AMI that the original instance is based on, and the operating system is later than Windows Server 2003, you must complete the following steps or you won't be able to boot the original instance after you restore its root volume because of a disk signature collision.


      The following procedure describes how to edit the Windows Registry using Registry Editor. If you are not familiar with the Registry or how to safely make changes using Registry Editor, read about the Registry on Microsoft TechNet.

      1. Open a command prompt, type regedit.exe, and press Enter.

      2. In the Registry Editor, choose HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE from the context menu (right-click), and then choose Find.

      3. Type Windows Boot Manager and then choose Find Next.

      4. Choose the key named 11000001. This key is a sibling of the key you found in the previous step.

      5. In the right pane, choose Element and then choose Modify from the context menu (right-click).

      6. Locate the four-byte disk signature at offset 0x38 in the data. Reverse the bytes to create the disk signature, and write it down. For example, the disk signature represented by the following data is E9EB3AA5:

        0030  00 00 00 00 01 00 00 00
        0038  A5 3A EB E9 00 00 00 00
        0040  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
      7. In a Command Prompt window, run the following command to start Microsoft DiskPart.

      8. Run the following DiskPart command to select the volume. (You can verify that the disk number is 1 using the Disk Management utility.)

        DISKPART> select disk 1 Disk 1 is now the selected disk.
      9. Run the following DiskPart command to get the disk signature.

        DISKPART> uniqueid disk Disk ID: 0C764FA8
      10. If the disk signature shown in the previous step doesn't match the disk signature from BCD that you wrote down earlier, use the following DiskPart command to change the disk signature so that it matches:

        DISKPART> uniqueid disk id=E9EB3AA5
    7. Using the Disk Management utility, bring the drive offline.


      The drive is automatically offline if the temporary instance is running the same operating system as the affected instance, so you won't need to bring it offline manually.

    8. Detach the volume from the temporary instance. You can terminate the temporary instance if you have no further use for it.

    9. Restore the root volume of the affected instance by attaching it as /dev/sda1.

    10. Start the instance.

  • Verify that the password has not expired. If the password has expired, you can reset it. For more information, see Resetting an Administrator Password that's Lost or Expired.

  • If you attempt to connect using a user account that you created on the instance and receive the error The user cannot connect to the server due to insufficient access privileges, verify that you granted the user the right to log on locally. For more information, see

  • If you attempt more than the maximum allowed concurrent RDP sessions, your session is terminated with the message Your Remote Desktop Services session has ended. Another user connected to the remote computer, so your connection was lost. By default, you are allowed two concurrent RDP sessions to your instance.

RDP displays a black screen instead of the desktop

Try the following to resolve this issue:

  • Check the console output for additional information. To get the console output for your instance using the Amazon EC2 console, select the instance, choose Actions, select Instance Settings, and then choose Get System Log.

  • Verify that you are running the latest version of your RDP client.

  • Try the default settings for the RDP client. For more information, see Remote Session Environment in the Microsoft TechNet Library.

  • If you are using Remote Desktop Connection, try starting it with the /admin option as follows.

    mstsc /v:instance /admin
  • If the server is running a full-screen application, it might have stopped responding. Use Ctrl+Shift+Esc to start Windows Task Manager, and then close the application.

  • If the server is over-utilized, it might have stopped responding. To monitor the instance using the Amazon EC2 console, select the instance and then select the Monitoring tab. If you need to change the instance type to a larger size, see Resizing Your Instance.

Instance loses network connectivity or scheduled tasks don't run when expected

If you restart your instance and it loses network connectivity, it's possible that the instance has the wrong time.

By default, Windows instances use Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). If you set the time for your instance to a different time zone and then restart it, the time becomes offset and the instance temporarily loses its IP address. The instance regains network connectivity eventually, but this can take several hours. The amount of time that it takes for the instance to regain network connectivity depends on the difference between UTC and the other time zone.

This same time issue can also result in scheduled tasks not running when you expect them to. In this case, the scheduled tasks do not run when expected because the instance has the incorrect time.

To use a time zone other than UTC persistently, you must set the RealTimeIsUniversal registry key. Without this key, an instance uses UTC after you restart it.


Windows Server 2003 doesn't support the RealTimeIsUniversal registry key. Therefore, the instance always uses UTC after a restart.

To resolve time issues that cause a loss of network connectivity

  1. Ensure that you are running the recommended PV drivers. For more information, see Upgrading PV Drivers on Your Windows AMI.

  2. Verify that the following registry key exists and is set to 1: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\TimeZoneInformation\RealTimeIsUniversal

Insufficient Instance Capacity

If you get an InsufficientInstanceCapacity error when you try to launch an instance, AWS does not currently have enough available capacity to service your request.

Try the following:

  • Wait a few minutes and then submit your request again; capacity can shift frequently.

  • Submit a new request with a reduced number of instances. For example, if you're making a single request to launch 15 instances, try making 3 requests for 5 instances, or 15 requests for 1 instance instead.

  • Submit a new request without specifying an Availability Zone.

  • Submit a new request using a different instance type (which you can resize at a later stage). For more information, see Resizing Your Instance.

  • Try purchasing Reserved Instances. Reserved Instances are a long-term capacity reservation. For more information, see Amazon EC2 Reserved Instances.

Instance Limit Exceeded

If you get an InstanceLimitExceeded error when you try to launch an instance, you have reached your concurrent running instance limit. For new AWS accounts, the default limit is 20. If you need additional running instances, complete the form at Request to Increase Amazon EC2 Instance Limit.

Windows Server 2012 R2 not available on the network

For information about troubleshooting a Windows Server 2012 R2 instance that is not available on the network, see Windows Server 2012 R2 loses network and storage connectivity after an instance reboot.