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Run commands locally at the command prompt
It is helpful to narrow whether a build failure is the result of a TFS/VSTS product issue (agent or tasks). Build failures may also result from external commands.
Check the build log for the exact command-line executed by the failing step. Attempting to run the command locally from the command line, may reproduce the issue. It can be helpful to run the command locally from your own machine, and/or log-in to the build machine and run the command as the service account.
For example, is the problem happening during the MSBuild part of your build process (for example, are you using either the MSBuild or Visual Studio Build step)? If so, then try running the same MSBuild command on a local machine using the same arguments. If you can reproduce the problem on a local machine, then your next steps are to investigate the MSBuild problem.
Differences between local command prompt and agent
Keep in mind, some differences are in effect when executing a command on a local machine and when a build is running on an agent. If the agent is configured to run as a service on Linux, macOS, or Windows, then it is not running within an interactive logged-on session. Without an interactive logged-on session, UI interaction and other limitations exist.
Get logs to diagnose problems
Start by looking at the logs in your completed build. If they don't provide enough detail, you can make them more verbose:
On the Variables tab, add
system.debugand set it to
true. Select to allow at queue time.
Queue the build.
In the explorer tab, view your completed build and click the build step to view its output.
If you need a copy of all the logs, click Download all logs as zip.
On the build summmary page, find the Queue new build button, next to it there is a drop down. Click the down arrow and choose Queue new build with diagnostic logs.
Queue the build.
On the build summary page, there will now be a Diagnostic logs section. You can download your diagnostic logs per phase. If you would like to download everything you can also choose to Download all logs as zip.
Worker diagnostic logs
You can get the diagnostic log of the completed build that was generated by the worker process on the build agent. Look for the
worker log file that has the date and time stamp of your completed build. For example,
Agent diagnostic logs
Agent diagnostic logs provide a record of how the agent was configured and what happened when it ran. Look for the
agent log files. For example,
agent_20160624-144630-utc.log. There are two kinds of agent log files:
The log file generated when you ran
config.cmd. This log:
Includes this line near the top:
Adding Command: configure
Shows the configuration choices made.
The log file generated when you ran
run.cmd. This log:
Cannot be opened until the process is terminated.
Attempts to connect to your Team Foundation Server or VSTS account.
Shows when each job was run, and how it completed
Both logs show how the agent capabilities were detected and set.
Inside the diagnostic logs you will find environment.txt and capabilities.txt.
The environment.txt file has various information about the environment within which your build ran. This includes information like what Tasks are run, whether or not the firewall is enabled, Powershell version info, and some other items. We continually add to this data to make it more useful.
The capabilities file provides a clean way to see all capabilities installed on the build machine that ran your build.
HTTP trace logs
Important: HTTP traces and trace files can contain passwords and other secrets. Do not post them on a public sites.
Use built-in HTTP tracing
If your agent is version 2.114.0 or newer, you can trace the HTTP traffic headers and write them into the diagnostic log. Set the
VSTS_AGENT_HTTPTRACE environment variable before you launch the agent.listener.
Windows: set VSTS_AGENT_HTTPTRACE=true macOS/Linux: export VSTS_AGENT_HTTPTRACE=true
Use full HTTP tracing
We recommend you listen only to agent traffic. File > Capture Traffic off (F12)
Enable decrypting HTTPS traffic. Tools > Fiddler Options > HTTPS tab. Decrypt HTTPS traffic
Let the agent know to use the proxy:
Run the agent interactively. If you're running as a service, you can set as the environment variable in control panel for the account the service is running as.
Restart the agent.
macOS and Linux
Use Charles Proxy (similar to Fiddler on Windows) to capture the HTTP trace of the agent.
Start Charles Proxy.
Charles: Proxy > Proxy Settings > SSL Tab. Enable. Add URL.
Charles: Proxy > Mac OSX Proxy. Recommend disabling to only see agent traffic.
Run the agent interactively. If it's running as a service, you can set in the .env file. See nix service
Restart the agent.
File- and folder-in-use errors
File or folder in use errors are often indicated by error messages such as:
Access to the path [...] is denied.
The process cannot access the file [...] because it is being used by another process.
Access is denied.
Can't move [...] to [...]
Detect files and folders in use
Anti-virus software scanning your files can cause file or folder in use errors during a build. Adding an anti-virus exclusion for your agent directory and configured "work folder" may help to identify anti-virus software as the interfering process.
MSBuild and /nodeReuse:false
If you invoke MSBuild during your build, make sure to pass the argument
/nodeReuse:false (short form
/nr:false). Otherwise MSBuild process(es) will remain running after the build completes. The process(es) remain for some time in anticipation of a potential subsequent build.
This feature of MSBuild can interfere with attempts to delete or move a directory - due to a conflict with the working directory of the MSBuild process(es).
The MSBuild and Visual Studio Build tasks already add
/nr:false to the arguments passed to MSBuild. However, if you invoke MSBuild from your own script, then you would need to specify the argument.
MSBuild and /maxcpucount:[n]
Try adding the
/m:1 argument to your build steps to force MSBuild to run only one process at a time.
File-in-use issues may result when leveraging the concurrent-process feature of MSBuild. Not specifying the argument
/maxcpucount:[n] (short form
/m:[n]) instructs MSBuild to use a single process only. If you are using the MSBuild or Visual Studio Build tasks, you may need to specify "/m:1" to override the "/m" argument that is added by default.
Intermittent or inconsistent MSBuild failures
If you are experiencing intermittent or inconsistent MSBuild failures, try instructing MSBuild to use a single-process only. Intermittent or inconsistent errors may indicate that your target configuration is incompatible with the concurrent-process feature of MSBuild. See MSBuild and /maxcpucount:[n]
Waiting for Input
A process hang may indicate that a process is waiting for input.
Running the agent from the command line of an interactive logged on session may help to identify whether a process is prompting with a dialog for input.
Running the agent as a service may help to eliminate programs from prompting for input. For example in .Net, programs may rely on the System.Environment.UserInteractive Boolean to determine whether to prompt. When running as a Windows service, the value is false.
Analyzing a dump of the process can help to identify what a deadlocked process is waiting on.
Building a WiX project when custom MSBuild loggers are enabled, can cause WiX to deadlock waiting on the output stream. Adding the additional MSBuild argument
/p:RunWixToolsOutofProc=true will workaround the issue.
Agent connection issues
Config fails while testing agent connection (on-premises TFS only)
Testing agent connection. VS30063: You are not authorized to access http://<SERVER>:8080/tfs
If the above error is received while configuring the agent, log on to your TFS machine. Start the Internet Information Services (IIS) manager. Make sure Anonymous Authentication is enabled.
Agent lost communication
This issue is characterized by the error message:
The job has been abandoned because agent did not renew the lock. Ensure agent is running, not sleeping, and has not lost communication with the service.
This error may indicate the agent lost communication with the server for a span of several minutes. Check the following to rule out network or other interruptions on the agent machine:
- Verify automatic updates are turned off. A machine reboot from an update will cause a build to fail with the above error. Apply updates in a controlled fashion to avoid this type of interruption. Before rebooting the agent machine, the agent should first be marked disabled in the pool administration page and let any running build finish.
- Verify the sleep settings are turned off.
- If the agent is running on a virtual machine, avoid any live migration or other VM maintenance operation that may severly impact the health of the machine for multiple minutes.
- If the agent is running on a virtual machine, the same operating-system-update recommendations and sleep-setting recommendations apply to the host machine. And also any other maintenance operations that several impact the host machine.
- Performance monitor logging or other health metric logging can help to correlate this type of error to constrained resource availability on the agent machine (disk, memory, page file, processor, network).
- Another way to correlate the error with network problems is to ping a server indefinitely and dump the output to a file, along with timestamps. Use a healthy interval, for example 20 or 30 seconds. If you are using VSTS, then you would want to ping an internet domain, for example bing.com. If you are using an on-premises TFS server, then you would want to ping a server on the same network.
- Verify the network throughput of the machine is adequate. You can perform an online speed test to check the throughput.
- If you use a proxy, verify the agent is configured to use your proxy. Refer to the agent deployment topic.
Builds not starting
TFS Job Agent not started
This may be characterized by a message in the web console "Waiting for an agent to be requested". Verify the TFSJobAgent (display name: Visual Studio Team Foundation Background Job Agent) Windows service is started.
Misconfigured notifcation URL (1.x agent version)
This may be characterized by a message in the web console "Waiting for console output from an agent", and the build eventually times out.
A mismatching notification URL may cause the worker to process to fail to connect to the server. See Team Foundation Administration Console, Application Tier. The 1.x agent listens to the message queue using the URL that it was configured with. However, when a job message is pulled from the queue, the worker process uses the notification URL to communicate back to the server.
Team Foundation Version Control (TFVC)
Get sources not downloading some files
This may be characterized by a message in the build log "All files up to date" from the tf get command. Verify the built-in build service identity has permission to download the sources. Either the identity Project Collection Build Service or Project Build Service will need permission to download the sources, depending on the selected authorization scope on General tab of the build definition. In the version control web UI, you can browse the project files at any level of the folder hierarchy and check the security settings.
Get sources through Team Foundation Proxy
The easiest way to configure the agent to get sources through a Team Foundation Proxy is set environment variable
TFSPROXY that point to the TFVC proxy server for the agent's run as user.
Windows: set TFSPROXY=http://tfvcproxy:8081 setx TFSPROXY=http://tfvcproxy:8081 // If the agent service is running as NETWORKSERVICE or any service account you can't easily set user level environment variable macOS/Linux: export TFSPROXY=http://tfvcproxy:8081
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