Node unable to join cluster because the cluster db is out of date


  • Complex 3-node AOAG cluster
  • 2 nodes in room A form a SQL Server failover cluster instance (FCI)
  • 1 node in room B is a stand-alone instance
  • The FCI and node 3 form an always on availability group (AOAG)
  • Alle nodes are in the same Windows failover cluster
  • All nodes run Windows Server 2022


The problem was reported as such: Node 3 is unable to join the cluster, and the AOAG sync has stopped. A look in the cluster events tab in Failover Cluster Manager revealed the following error being repeated; FailoverClustering Event ID 5398:

Cluster failed to start. The latest copy of cluster configuration data was not available within the set of nodes attempting to start the cluster. Changes to the cluster occurred while the set of nodes were not in membership and as a result were not able to receive configuration data updates.

And also; FailoverClustering Event ID 1652:

Cluster node 'Node 3' failed to join the cluster. A UDP connection could not be established to node(s) 'Node 1'. Verify network connectivity and configuration of any network firewalls


Just looking at the error messages listed, one might be inclined to believe that something is seriously wrong with the cluster. Cluster database paxos (version) tag mismatch problems often lead to having to evict and re-join the complaining nodes. But experience, and especially with multi-room clusters, has taught me that this is seldom necessary. The cluster configuration database issue is just a symptom of the underlying network issue. What it is trying to say is that the concurrency of the database across the nodes cannot be verified, or that one of the nodes are unable to download the current version from one of the other nodes. Maybe due to an even number of active nodes, or not enough nodes online to form a majority.

A cluster validation run (Network only) was started, and indeed, there was a complete breakdown in communication between node 1 and 3. In both directions. Quote from the validation report:

Node 1 is not reachable from node 3. It is necessary that each cluster node can
communicate each other cluster node by a minimum of one network path (though multiple paths
are recommended to avoid a single point of failure). Please verify that existing networks
are configured properly or add additional networks.

If the communication works in one direction, you will only get one such message. In this case, we also have the corresponding message indicating a to-way issue:

Node  is not reachable from node 1. It is necessary that each cluster node can communicate each other cluster node by a minimum of one network path (though multiple paths are recommended to avoid a single point of failure). Please verify that existing networks are configured properly or add additional networks.

Be aware that a two-way issue does not necessarily indicate a problem with more than one node. It does however point to a problem located near or at the troublesome node, whereas a one-way issue points more in the direction of a firewall issue.

Thus, a search of the central firewall log repository was started. It failed to shine a light on the matter though. Sadly, that is not uncommon in these cases. A targeted search performed directly on the networking devices in combination with a review of relevant firewall rules and routing policies by a network engineer is often needed to root out the issue.

The cluster had been running without any changes or issues for quite some time, but a similar problem had occurred at least once before. Last time it was due to a network change, and we knew that a change to parts of the network infrastructure had recently been performed. But stil, something smelled fishy. And as we could not agree on where the smell came from, we chose to analyse a bit more before we summoned the network people.

The funny thing was that communication between node 2 and node 3 was working. One would think that the problem should be located on the interlink between room A and B, but if that was the case, why did it only affect node 1? We triggered a restart of the cluster service on node 3. The result was that the cluster, and thereby the AOAG listener and databases went down, quorum was re-arbitrated, and node 1 was kicked out. The FCI and AOAG primary failed over to node 2, node 3 joined the cluster and began to sync changes to the databases, and node 1 was offline.

So, the hunt was refocused. This time we were searching diligently for something wrong on node 1. Another validation report was triggered, this time not just for networking. It revealed several interesting things, whereof two became crucial to solving the problem.

1: Cluster networking was now not working at all on node 1, and as a result network validation failed completely. Quote from the validation report:

An error occurred while executing the test.
There was an error initializing the network tests.

There was an error creating the server side agent (CPrepSrv).

Retrieving the COM class factory for remote component with CLSID {E1568352-586D-43E4-933F-8E6DC4DE317A} from machine Node 1 failed due to the following error: 80080005 Node 1.

2: There was a pending reboot. On all nodes. Quote:

The following servers have updates applied which are pending a reboot to take effect. It is recommended to reboot the servers to complete the patching process.
Node 1
Node 2
Node 2

Now, it is important to note that patching and installation of software updates on these servers are very tightly regulated due to SLA-concerns. Such work should always end with a reboot, and there are fixed service windows to adhere to with the exception of emergency updates of critical patches. No such updates had been applied recently.

Rummaging around in the registry, two potential culprits were discovered: Microsoft xps print spooler drivers and Microsoft Edge browser updates. Now why these updates were installed, and why they should kill DCOM and by extension failover clustering I do not now. But they did. After restarting node 1, everything started working as expected again. Findings in the application installation log would indicate that Microsoft Edge was the problem, but this has not been verified. It does however make more sense than the XPS print spooler.


If you have this problem and you believe that the network/firewall/routing is not the issue, run as cluster validation report and look for pending reboots. You find them under “Validate Software Update Levels” in the “System Configuration” section.

If you have some pending reboots, restart the nodes one by one. The problem should vanish.

If you do not have any pending reboots, try rebooting the nodes anyway. If that does not help, hunt down someone from networking and have them look for traffic. Successful traffic is usually not logged, but you can turn it on temporarily. Capturing the network traffic on all of the nodes and running a wireshark analysis would be my next action point if the networking people are unable to find anything.


Author: DizzyBadger

SQL Server DBA, Cluster expert, Principal Analyst

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