7 Troubleshooting Options for “Host Needs Attention” Issues in VMM


System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) is generally reliable but sometimes loses its ability to manage Hyper-V hosts. For example, you may see a message that the host needs attention or that the host is not responding.

In this article, I will show you how regain the ability to manage your Hyper-V Hosts when these types of issues occur in VMM. Concretely, you will benefit from 3 basic checks and 4 slightly more advanced options to get your machine back on track.

Before we get into troubleshooting, let’s first understand what The host needs attention the error is.

What is the Host Needs Attention Error?

A host attention error is a status indicator that appears next to a host in the VMM Management Console. You usually won’t see a popup error message or anything like that. The error indicates that VMM is unable to communicate with the host and essentially assumes the host is offline. That said, this error can occur even when a host is up.

Why does your host need attention? It must be strong enough to survive. Well, let’s find out!

Why does your host need attention?

Most of the time, a Host Needs Attention error does not occur due to human intervention or error. It just happens. If, for example, a DHCP server assigns a host a new IP address and the DNS record does not reflect the new address, this may result in an error. Of course, the error can also occur if the host is offline.

Before you dive too deep into the troubleshooting process, check these 3 simple causes to see if they are the culprit.

Check the Simple Things First

Sometimes problem solvers dig into granular details before checking the basics. here is 3 things to check before before moving on to more complex issues.

1. Is the clock set correctly?

Check the clocks are correct on your domain controllers, Hyper-V hosts, and VMM server. Clock skew issues can cause Kerberos to stop working, which can lead to several other issues.

2. Is DNS name resolution working correctly?

The server running VMM must be able to resolve the host’s FQDN to the correct IP address. It’s also worth taking the time to make sure the host’s IP address hasn’t changed and still matches the DNS disk. I have encountered this problem many times.

3. Is the host functional?

Verify that the host is actually functional and that VMM is not reporting issues due to the host being offline. You can find the system performance may be compromised, indicating a problem.

Now that you’re done with the basics, let’s move on to other things you can check to give your computer the attention it needs.

Beyond the Basics for Host Needs Attention Issues

let’s discuss 4 additional shares you can take to fix “Host needs attention” issues in VMM.

1. Verify that the VMM RunAs account is a member of the Administrators group

The next thing you need to do is connect to the host and make sure the RunAs VMM Account is a member of the local administrator’s group. Keep in mind that the account may not be named RunAs.

To verify that the RunAs account is correctly used:

  1. Open the VMM management console.
  2. Select the Settings workspace.
  3. Select the RunAs Accounts tongue. (Available RunAs accounts will appear)
  4. Register RunAs account names in your system. (the following image shows you what the RunAs accounts that my VMM server uses look like)

    RunAs is an administrator; no problem here!

  5. Connect to the host with which VMM is having issues.
  6. Open the computer management console.
  7. Navigate in the console to computer management > System Tools > Local users and groups > Groups.
  8. Open the Administrators group and make sure that at least one VMM RunAs account that you noted before is listed. (See the figure below for an example)
    The Computer Management console is opened on the host server and the RunAs account is added to the local Administrators group.

    Now the VMM RunAs account is included in the Administrators group.

2. Check for the presence of the VMM agent

VMM uses a agent to manage hosts, and a bad host is often a symptom of a problem with an agent. To verify that the agent is still installed on the host server:

  1. Connect to the host and open the Control Panel.
  2. Click on Programsfollowed by Uninstall a program.
  3. Check the list of installed programs to make sure that Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager Agent is on the list.

The Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager DHCP Server and Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable must also be present, as shown in the figure below.

The Windows Control Panel is open on the screen which allows you to uninstall a program.  The goal is not to remove anything, but rather to ensure that the VMM agent appears in the list of installed programs.

Make sure that the agent and its subcomponents are still installed.

3. Check the firewall

It is also important to ensure firewall the rules do not prevent the VMM agent from communicating with the VMM server. At a minimum, you will need to allow WinRM communications on port 5985 and HTTPS communications over port 443. You will also need to check any firewalls between your VMM server and the host server.

4. Make sure the required services are running

For VMM to properly manage a Hyper-V host, the WinRM service must be run on the host server. To this end:

  1. Open PowerShell and run the following command: Get-Service WinRM
  2. Make sure the service status shows as Running.
  3. Start the service using the following command: WinRM Boot Service (in case it doesn’t work)

The following figure shows the process for verifying and starting the WinRM service.

PowerShell is opened and the Start-Service WinRM command is used to start the WinRM service.

The WinRM service must be running on all hosts managed by VMM.

It should be noted that other system services are probably present and depend on the WinRM service. If the WinRM service has stopped, all dependency services will also be stopped. Simply restarting the WinRM service will not cause the dependency services to start. The easiest way to check which services have stopped is to:

  1. Enter the following command in PowerShell: Get-Service | Where-Object {($_.Status -eq ‘Stopped’) -and ($_.StartType -eq ‘Automatic’)}.
  2. Repeat the command and add a pipe symbol ‘|’ and the Start-Service cmdlet if the command returns a list of services.

Remember that some services configured to start automatically are designed to stop if not in use. In the case of the figure below, however, you can see the System Center Virtual Machine Manager The agent is one of the services that are not running.

PowerShell is opened and a command is used to start any services that are configured to start automatically but are not running.  The command is: Get-Service |  Where-Object {($.Status -eq 'Stopped') -and ($.StartType -eq 'Automatic')}

Start all failing services

Pro tip

A final tip is that it’s a good idea to check for stopped services, even if the WinRM service hasn’t failed. Indeed, it is possible that the VMM Agent service stops, even if the WinRM service is running.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, a number of reasons can prevent a managed host from responding. If you’re having trouble, make sure your server clocks are in sync. You can also verify that your DNS records are correct and that your host is online. If all of these things are checked, you will need to dive into further troubleshooting steps, such as verifying that the agent is installed. Make sure the WinRM service is running, no firewall ports are blocked, and your RunAs account is a member of the local administrators group.

FAQs

Does the VMM Agent service have any additional dependencies?

The VMM agent depends on the following services: Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS), WinRM, and WinMGMT. BITS manages data between physical and virtual environments. WinRM manages transactions between servers and clients. WinMGMT manages customer data, essentially parsing the data to the user’s terminal.

A Hyper-V host was previously managed by another VMM server, but I’m unable to manage it with a new VMM server?

A host server can only be managed by one host. If you need to manage a host using another VMM server, you can remove and reinstall or reassociate the agent. The easiest way to remove the agent is to select the agent in Control Panel (step 2 of this article) and click Remove.

I keep having problems with out of sync clocks. How can I prevent this from event?

You may have several reasons why the clock skew occurs. You can find tips to solve this problem here. Issues include clients working in different time zones, hosting from different sites, and manually overriding the time on a client machine.

What is the WinRM service and why should it be running?

WinRM is Windows Remote Management Service. This is the protocol used by VMM to interact with Hyper-V hosts and other infrastructure components. If this service is not running, a remote terminal will not be able to connect and use the CLI or graphical connection to the server via Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP).

What is the difference between the System Center Virtual Machine Manager service and the System Center Virtual Machine Manager Agent service?

The System Center Virtual Machine Manager Agent service corresponds to the VMM agent. This service runs on the VMM server and on all managed hosts. The System Center Virtual Machine Manager service corresponds to VMM itself and only runs on the VMM server.

Resources

Microsoft support ports article

Discover the ports used by VMM here.

Microsoft Host Management Documentation

Learn more about how to troubleshoot issues with host management in the official Microsoft documentation.

Microsoft time settings

Learn more about dealing with Windows clock skew issues here.

Windows Remote Management Article

Learn more WinRM here to help you understand how Windows Remote Management works.

Adding Hosts to VMM

Learn what to do if you’re having trouble adding VMM hosts here.


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