msdeploy fails after installing Windows updates

After installing some updates (around 30 in total, between reboots) I noticed that msdeploy was failing to synchronise the IIS Metabase and files from another server.

I’ve ran into this problem before and, if I recall correctly, it also occurred after running Windows Update.

The following error was returned when trying to run msdeploy.

Error: Object of type ‘webServer’ and path ” cannot be created.
Error: Configuration system failed to initialize
Error: Unrecognized configuration section startup. (C:\Program Files\IIS\Microsoft Web Deploy V2\msdeploy.exe.config line 2)
Error count: 1.

Also, when trying to load Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager, a warning popped up saying “Configuration system failed to initialize”.

The problem appeared to be with the following files.

  • C:\Windows\System32\inetsrv\config\applicationHost.config
  • C:\Windows\System32\inetsrv\config\administration.config
  • C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework64\v2.0.50727\CONFIG\machine.config
  • C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework64\v2.0.50727\CONFIG\web.config

The first file had a size of 18KB on the server in question. However, the same file on another server in the cluster had a size of 74KB. The other files were also of different sizes.

In addition to the above, I noticed that the following files from the C:\Windows\System32\inetsrv\config\schema directory were also missing.

  • APE_schema.xml
  • heliconApe_schema.xml
  • NetFx40_IIS_schema_update.xml
  • NetFx45_IIS_schema_update.xml

I don’t know what went wrong, but can only presume (based on past experience and the modified timestamp of the first file) that Windows Update broke this.

The fix was easy – simply restore the files from a backup. You can always copy them from another server in the cluster, which is what I did.