Error 0x80073701 When Adding Or Removing Server Roles

Last week I was removing a really old Window Server 2008 domain controller. As part of that process I needed to remove the Active Directory Certificate Services role.

It took an absolute age and looked like nothing was happening for a while.

Eventually I got an error code “0x80073701. The referenced assembly could not be found”

After a very quick google I found some details about it being a problem with adding and removing services itself as opposed to it specifically being an AD Certificates Services issue.

So I thought I’d test that by adding another role (print server)

Yep, same issue


So I had a quick look through the event log and saw tons of events related to making a change to the status of installed updates (didn’t screenshot them or note exactly what the message was unfortunately!)

Next step was to take a look at the CBS logs


CBS.log and CBS.persist.log

In there was the error “ERROR_SXS_ASSEMBLY_MISSING” as well a specific update.


So I uninstalled it and rebooted.

I probably could have re-installed the update but as the whole point in this case was to decommission the server I didn’t see much point.

After the server came back up I tried to add the print server role again and got exactly the same error. I checked the CBS logs again and found the same missing assembly error but with a different update. So I removed that one, rebooted again and I was then able to add the print server role without issue.

With that sorted I then tried to remove the certificate services role and this time around it was successful.

The short version, for when I come back here as it’s happened again

  • Remove or reinstall the update mentioned and reboot
  • Attempt the role change again, repeat until it works!   
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Andy Parkes is Technical Director at Coventry based IT support company IBIT Solutions. Formerly, coordinator of AMITPRO and Microsoft Partner Area Lead for 2012-2013. He also isn't a fan of describing himself in the third person.

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