Troubleshooting specific Login Failed error messages

A recent discussion on the #sqlhelp hashtag on Twitter got me researching into this issue. The error message was:

2010-10-19 02:56:59.380 Logon Error: 18456, Severity: 14, State: 11.

2010-10-19 02:56:59.380 Logon Login failed for user <Server name>\User1′. Reason: Token-based server access validation failed with an infrastructure error. Check for previous errors. [CLIENT: ]

Starting from SQL Server 2008, the login failed messages have the reasons for the login failure printed in the SQL Errorlog. This definitely saves us a lot of trouble of jumping through hoops to find out the corresponding meaning of a State number reported.

Additionally, there are Ring Buffers entries associated with Login Failures which can be very useful when troubleshooting such issues. This has been blogged about in an earlier blog post here:

So, why so much fuss about this error?
The above English text even though it is supposed to be helpful can be more of an evil in this case. To explain this simply, the error message is trying to tell you that the security information contained in the user’s token doesn’t have the necessary privileges to grant access to the SQL instance.

State 11 corresponds to “Valid login but server access failure” which again points to the same fact that the login is valid but is missing certain security privileges which would grant it access to the instance. The first option that half the SQL world would suggest to you would be to use “Run As Administrator” option and try the same operation from SSMS or SQLCMD.

If disabling UAC or if you don’t have UAC enabled, then here is what you should be trying:

1. Look into the SQL Errorlog and verify that that the login failed message for the user has a State 11. You can alternatively verify the state number from the SQL Server default traces as well (available from SQL Server 2005 and above).
2. Next look into the Ring Buffers output and find out what was the API that failed. Use the query at the end of the blog post to retrieve the information from the Ring Buffers.
3. Check if that login is directly mapped to one of the SQL Server logins by looking into the output of
4. If the login is directly mapped to the list of available logins in the SQL instance, then check if the SID of the login matches the SID of the Windows Login.

The output that I got from step#2 was:
Calling API Name: NLShimImpersonate
API Name: ImpersonateSecurityContext
Error Code: 0x139F (which translates to The group or resource is not in the correct state to perform the requested operation)

There weren’t any other API failures corresponding to the same time frame in the Ring Buffer output other than the one mentioned above. If this is the only error code that you have associated with a failed login, then it will not help you troubleshoot the login failure.

If you are not sure how the login that is encountering the Login Failed error is acquiring permissions to access the SQL instance, then you can use xp_logininfo to retrieve that information. The output of this Extended Stored Procedure will give you the permission path from where the login is inheriting it’s permissions to access the instance.

Eg: EXEC xp_logininfo ‘<domain or server name>\User1’,‘all’

One of the common reasons this might happen is when an account SID changes due to some changes made at the Domain/Local Windows server level depending on where the account is created. The second reason that I found based on my research is that the when the account lacks the valid security privileges to the access the instance. The root cause analysis of the second cause is quite involved and outside the scope of this blog post.

I had reproduced the following error by doing the following:
1. Created a local windows group and added a user to it
2. Gave the windows group permission to access the SQL instance
3. Then dropped the windows group and created it again with the same name from Server Manager (on a Windows 2008 R2 box)

The other way that this issue can be reproduced is by dropping the windows user and adding it back again. The reason this issue occurs is because SQL Server maps logins using SIDs. When the SID changes at the Windows/Domain level, the SID stored in the SQL system catalog is not updated. When an attempt is made to use that login to access SQL, a SID mis-match occurs which results in the error.

Query to extract Security Ring Buffer information

— Extract Ring Buffer Information for SQL Server 2008 instances and above

SELECT CONVERT (varchar(30), GETDATE(), 121) as runtime,

dateadd (ms, (a.[Record Time] sys.ms_ticks), GETDATE()) as [Notification_Time],

a.* , sys.ms_ticks AS [Current Time]



x.value(‘(//Record/Error/ErrorCode)[1]’, ‘varchar(30)’) AS [ErrorCode],

x.value(‘(//Record/Error/CallingAPIName)[1]’, ‘varchar(255)’) AS [CallingAPIName],

x.value(‘(//Record/Error/APIName)[1]’, ‘varchar(255)’) AS [APIName],

x.value(‘(//Record/Error/SPID)[1]’, ‘int’) AS [SPID],

x.value(‘(//Record/@id)[1]’, ‘bigint’) AS [Record Id],

x.value(‘(//Record/@type)[1]’, ‘varchar(30)’) AS [Type],

x.value(‘(//Record/@time)[1]’, ‘bigint’) AS [Record Time]

FROM (SELECT CAST (record as xml) FROM sys.dm_os_ring_buffers

WHERE ring_buffer_type = ‘RING_BUFFER_SECURITY_ERROR’) AS R(x)) a

CROSS JOIN sys.dm_os_sys_info sys

ORDER BY a.[Record Time] ASC

Amit Banerjee
SEE,Microsoft SQL server support

Comments (10)

  1. Paul Storm says:

    Hi Amit,

    "DATEADD" doesn't seem to take bigint arguments. Once the difference between Record Time and sys.ms_ticks gets larger than 24 days 20 hours and 50 minutes the Notification Time calculation fails: 2,147,483,647 / (1000 * 60 * 60 * 24) = 24.855

    Something like the following is needed:

    dateadd (ss, ((a.[Record Time]/1000) – (sys.ms_ticks/1000)), GETDATE()) as [Notification_Time]

    Thanks for your posting,



  2. Bill says:

    The problem I am having with this error is that I am the new DBA and have local admin rights on the server. I can't get into SSMS so I can't run any sql queries or grant my login 'control server' privs. Any ideas how to get around the problem?

  3. Balmukund says:

    Hi Bill,

    Follow…/dd207004.aspx if you are windows admin.

  4. Mohamed Azlan says:

    Hi, sorry if this is a double post. I am not sure if the first post went through.

    Recently, to deploy my site, I changed my authentication from 'Windows' to 'SQL authentication'. Successfully added the user to ‘SecurityLogins’. But having problem enabling database role membership as it returns error 15247. I believe error 15151 is also that of permission issues.

    Here's an extra info in case it might help narrow down the problem scope, if i access my server it shows this error;

    "Login failed for user 'kaneXtreme' ".

    In my localhost,it shows this error;

    "The SELECT permission was denied on the object, database, schema"

    In my opinion, I think both error messages are pointing to a similar problem which is permission.

    This problem has been remained unsolved for some time now.

    If anyone have come across this problem before I really hope to get a few input to work around on this.

    Thank you in advance.

  5. Mohamed Azlan says:

    Solution found for my own thread 7 Jan 2012 4:46 AM

    After struggling for so long i found a solution. Thank God 🙂

    Before you reinstall SQL server using Mixed Mode Authentication. (I know the pain of doing that. Sometimes, it wont work for this because you backup your database.mdf under the non permissible user and when you attach it after reinstalling SQL it still shows the same 15247 error)

    What worked for me is;

    Logged in under windows authentication

    1) Went to DatabaseSecurity -> Right clicked on my role -> Selected all the necessary permissions

    2) Went to Security ->Right clicked on my role -> Selected all the necessary permissions

    3) Restart SQL

    4) Log in using SQL authentication

    5) Repeat steps (1) & (2)

    By God’s grace it should work. If not, try reinstalling SQL with a positive mind

  6. Tim Kelly says:

    I have lots of SQL Servers and linked servers are utilized heavily in my environment and there is one very rare cause that I have not seen documented anywhere. If you have an existing linked server and have created the proper SPN's and setup the proper AD Delegation and everything is working fine and then all of a sudden someone with proper rights gets the above described error 14/11 with reference to NT Authority/Anonymous yet everyone else can test the connection and query across without issue…it is as simple as having the developer restart SSMS and sometimes there machine. I have seen this only 3 times, if someone knows of a fix out there for SSMS or for an API on the client machine, please reply. Hope this helps save someone time.


  7. Barry says:

    Had this same issue.

    What caused it was that I set "Permission to Connect to database engine" to "Denied" in a different Active Directory group.  This was in the Login Properties -> Status.

    What I did not understand is even if a user is in a differnt Active Directory group that is Granted access, the Deny access in the other AD group takes precedence.  Any user in the "Denied" AD group will never be able to login no matter what other AD groups are granted access.

    The error messages are the same as above…   wish Microsoft would put an error in saying "login denied access due to permissions" or something like that.

    Good luck!

  8. S.E. says:

    Do not forget multiple domain environments. For example, you can add a local domain group from another domain as an SQL Server login without any problem – however, of course, that login will not grant access to anyone. The error message in the SQL Server error log will be the same as above.

    Example: SQL Server is in the domain. You can add a login from domain like this: SOUTHAppContacts

    No members of group SOUTHAppContacts can access SQL Server.

    Just be aware.

  9. Punyabrata says:

    Hi Amit, what is the resolution of this issue?

  10. MrCapable says:

    My Errors:

    Reason: Token-based server access validation failed with an infrastructure error. Check for previous errors.

    Error: 18456, Severity: 14, State: 11.


    This problem was affecting members of just a particular AD group who had no issues connecting on other servers.

    Adding their individual windows logins also didnt solve the problem.

    My Solution:

    So after 2-3 days of hopping around blogs and solutions, it occurred to me that the database engine could recognise the users but just wouldnt grant them access the the SQL instance.

    This was a instance-level issue and not a database one.

    I ran the query:

    select name from syslogins where hasaccess =0

    and found that the BUILTINAdministrators has been denied access to the SQL instance, once I enabled this through SSMS(Security >> right click the login >> Properties  >>Status >> Settings >>Permission to connect to database engine), the affected logins were able to connect. 🙂

    I discovered the affected windows group is actually a memeber of the local Admin group on the box, hence BUILTINAdministrators.

    The key is to find out if the affected users belonged to other groups that could have been denied access to the instance.

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