Spurious WINS Event ID 4224 on Windows Server 2008

I recently fielded a call from a customer who was seeing Event ID 4224 errors on a Windows Server 2008 machine. The machine hosted DNS but also hosted WINS. It was noted that after a restart of the WINS Server service that the “Event 4224 – WINS encountered a database error” was logged in the System Event Log. The same behavior had been seen on a couple other servers hosting WINS. All were Windows Server 2008.

Log Name:       System
Source:         Wins
Date:           4/24/2009 4:19:10 PM
Event ID:       4224
Task Category:  None
Level:          Error
Keywords:       Classic
User:           N/A
Computer:       MachineName.corp.contoso.com
WINS encountered a database error. This may or may not be a serious error. WINS will try to recover from it. You can check the database error events under ‘Application Log’ category of the Event Viewer for the Exchange Component,  ESENT, source to find out more details about database errors.  If you continue to see a large number of these errors consistently over time (a span of few hours), you may want to restore the WINS database from a backup. 

It turns out that the behavior is very reproducible and (the good part) harmless. While certainly being annoying there is in fact no relation to an actual issue with WINS or the WINS database in particular in this case. I reproduced the Event with a brand new server install where only the locally registered WINS records existed. This behavior is expected given the combination of function calls that are made when there is a service restart. As you might have already guessed, restarting the server may also generate the Event. In the interest of preventing a call to Microsoft Support to discuss this Event ID, I thought it would be good to give you the “skinny” on it.

Obviously, WINS Event ID 4224 is a valid error and can be related to a legitimate problem. Caution should be taken to avoid dismissing any diagnostic Events, including this one, without adequate investigation.

– Pete Sullivan