The Name Reference is Invalid

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When I am setting up a new user in “active directory users and computers” I like to find a similar user and copy their account. This way I can set the account up faster and I am less likely to miss something. But for the past few months, I have been fighting this active directory error “the name reference is invalid” when trying to copy an account.

I always seem to be in a hurry when this pops up so I try another account to copy and if I have no luck I just set it up from scratch. But today I had enough so I started to dig into what was going on.

Windows cannot create the object “Username” because: The name reference is invalid.

This is the dreaded error I always got. Other people in my department got the same error as well so I knew it did not have anything to do with my computer.

The name reference is invalid

Don’t you just love how Microsoft manages to put no helpful details in their error messages?

The fix

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It turns out for us at least the problem was an entry in the “showInAddressBook” attribute of the user we were trying to copy. It looked like this.

CN=All Recipients(VLV)\0ADEL:268e59f1-29e4-4ab2-baf8-a86fac6aa6b4,CN=Deleted Objects,CN=Configuration,DC=DOMAINNAME,DC=com

After removing that value the copy function started to work again.

Maybe it was some legacy thing from an old server because it only seemed to be a problem with older accounts and not new ones. Or maybe just another Office365 issue from when we migrated over. At this point, I can only guess.

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