Friday, 28 November 2014

Unable to change the password of Managed Service Account from SharePoint

Since SharePoint 2010 we have the concept for managed service accounts in SharePoint. In order to use an account in SharePoint 2010/2013 you first need to register it as managed. After you register the account as managed, you can change the account password from the SharePoint(UI and PowerShell) you can even set an automatic password change in order to comply with the security policies of the company. It is even recommended to change the password of managed account only from SharePoint. This way the password will be changed and SharePoint will be aware of this change. Before we have the managed accounts it was real pain and a risky operation to change the passwords of the accounts used by SharePoint. However, I have seen multiple deployments (including mine done in the early days) where service accounts are created with attributes "Password never expires" and "User cannot change password". This attributes are self-descriptive enough. After some time when the environment is deployed, everything is working fine and we are all happy, comes the time where you need to change the password for security reasons as described above. To do this you go in the Central Administration or in powershell and performing just a routine change of managed account password, but you hit below "Access is Denied" errors:

Access is Denied

In PowerShell:

PS C:\> Set-SPManagedAccount -identity ILABS\SP_PortalApppool -NewPassword `
(ConvertTo-SecureString "SomeNewPass1234" -AsPlainText -Force) -SetNewPassword `
-ConfirmPassword (ConvertTo-SecureString "SomeNewPass1234" -AsPlainText -Force)
Set-SPManagedAccount : Access is denied
At line:1 char:1
+ Set-SPManagedAccount -identity ILABS\SP_PortalApppool -NewPassword (ConvertTo-Se ...
+ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    + CategoryInfo          : InvalidData: (Microsoft.Share...tManagedAccount:SPCmdletSetManagedAccount) [Set-SPManagedAccount], Win32Exception
    + FullyQualifiedErrorId : Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell.SPCmdletSetManagedAccount

Again the "Access is denied" is not telling us what is the reason behind this.
The explanation is that the password change should be done by the user that is subject of this change and if he does not have the permission to do so, the operation will fail. The permission users to change their own password is denied by the attribute "User cannot change password". So if you do not have solid reason to do so, do not turn on the "User cannot change password" attribute of accounts that are used in SharePoint.
The second error you may hit when you enter new password or decide to use SharePoint generated new password is following:

Error when changing the password

In PowerShell:

Set-SPManagedAccount : The password does not meet the password policy requirements. Check the minimum password length, password complexity and password history requirements At line:1 char:1 + Set-SPManagedAccount -identity ILABS\SP_PortalApppool -NewPassword (ConvertTo-Se ... + ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ + CategoryInfo : InvalidData: (Microsoft.Share...tManagedAccount:SPCmdletSetManagedAccount) [Set-SPManage dAccount], Win32Exception + FullyQualifiedErrorId : Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell.SPCmdletSetManagedAccount

This error is more descriptive, it is telling us what is wrong.
Unfortunately, it can be a bit misleading, because you are sure that you are compliant with your password policy  and you are still getting this error. Well there is one not so obvious conditions that could lead to this error.
The reason is that the password of the account was recently changed. We all know that there is a GPO policy that after certain time will prompt the user for password change, it is a good security practice to keep this GPO policy enabled, it is called "Maximum Password age".
However, there is another policy that define the minimum password age. As you can guess it is called
"Minimum Password age" and it is enabled by default with value 1 day. This means that if a user change the password, he will not be able to change it again in the next 24 hours from the time of the last password change. If you open your Default domain policy you can find the password policy like this: Default Domain Policy -> Computer Configuration -> Windows Settings -> Security Settings -> Account Policy -> Password Policy.
The third error you may hit is really telling us all:

Error when changing the password 2

In PowerShell:

Set-SPManagedAccount : The password for the account ILABS\sp_portalapppool, as currently stored in SharePoint, is not the same as the current password for the account within Active Directory. Change the password to match the existing password within Active Directory in order to continue. At line:1 char:1 + Set-SPManagedAccount -identity ILABS\SP_PortalApppool -NewPassword (ConvertTo-Se ... + ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ + CategoryInfo : InvalidData: (Microsoft.Share...tManagedAccount:SPCmdletSetManagedAccount) [Set-SPManage dAccount], InvalidOperationException + FullyQualifiedErrorId : Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell.SPCmdletSetManagedAccount

In this case the password of the managed account is different from the password stored in SharePoint, most probably due to a recent password change in the AD.
To correct this you first need to know what is the current password in the AD or if you do not know it you may try to reset it again to value that you will be aware of.
Then you go to the Central Administration, select change password, mark use existing password, enter it and you are ready to proceed as shown below.

Use Existing Password

Оr use PowerShell:

Set-SPManagedAccount -identity "ILABS\SP_PortalAppPool" -ExistingPassword (Convertto-Securestring "demo!234" -AsPlainText -Force)


  1. Thanks for the excellent analysis. I was confident that my password met minimum specs. Just needed to set the minimum and maximum password age settings on my test domain. You have made me regain confidence in the managed accounts feature of SP2013. Thanks! Gonna link you in to a few Microsoft forums which refer to this same issue.

    1. Thanks Will, glad you find this useful!