In the past week, I encountered a curious problem on 2 clients' Windows Vista PCs. The symptom are:
- A red "X" on the network icon in the tray displaying the pop message - Connection status: Unknown The dependency service or group failed to start
- The PC is able to see available wireless networks
- The PC connects to available wireless networks but the status is limited and cannot connect to the Internet
- Both systems are running Windows Vista and Trend Micro virus protection
I spent a lot of time researching this problem and found that the error message "The Dependency Service or Group Failed to Start" is a somewhat generic message addressing Windows services issues. I also found that many Internet help sites are littered with tons of bad information on this issue. I tried many of the 'fixes' without success. Then I found a thread on Microsoft's TechNet Forum that correctly identified my clients' problem and offered a fix that worked. So, I give credit to Terry Downing for the fix. It worked like a charm.
The problem: Trend Micro's virus protection is getting confused and mistakenly identifies a Windows file as being infected with a virus. In its efforts to remove the supposed virus, it corrupts the Windows Network Location Awareness service. This service collects and stores network configuration information for the network and notifies programs when this information is modified. If this service is stopped, configuration information might be unavailable. If this service is disabled, any service that explicitly depends on it will fail to start. The Network List Service will not run when the Network Location Awareness service is disabled. Hence, the error message that a dependency service failed to start. The Network Location Awareness service is found in nlasvc.dll which is located in the system32 directory.
The fix: The corrupted system file, nlasvc.dll, needs to be replaced with a working version of the file. For your convenience, I have put a copy of it here. Click on the link to download the file:
If you need to delete or overwrite a system file in Windows Vista, you'll quickly notice that you cannot delete system files, even as administrator. This is because Windows Vista's system files are owned by the TrustedInstaller service by default and Windows File Protection will keep them from being overwritten. Thankfully, there's a way that you can get around this. You need to take ownership of the files, and then assign yourself rights to delete or modify the file. For this, we'll use the command line.
First, open an administrator command prompt by typing cmd into the start menu search box, and hit the Ctrl+Shift+Enter key combination.
To take ownership of the file, you'll need to use the takeown command.
At the command prompt type: takeown /f c:\windows\system32\nlasvc.dll
That will give you ownership of the file, but you still have no rights to delete, move and rename it. Next, you need to run the cacls command to give yourself full control rights to the file:
At the command prompt type: cacls c:\windows\system32\nlasvc.dll /G your username:F
Make sure that you replace "your username" with your username exactly as it is spelled for the currently active user account on your computer.
At this point, you should be able to change the file. Rename the file from nlasvc.dll to nlasvc.dll.old. Next, copy the new source file that you downloaded from above to c:\windows\system32.
Once the file has been replaced you need to set the permissions back to its original state. Locate nlasvc.dll in c:\windows\system32 in the Windows File Manager. Right mouse button click on the file and choose Properties.
Click Security tab; Click Advanced button; Click Owner tab; Click Edit button; Click Other User or Group and type in NT SERVICE\TrustedInstaller.
Press Ok on all dialogs until all property dialogs are closed. Restart the PC and you should be back in business.
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