If a change is made to the server configuration using an officially-supported tool like dsconfig or the administrative console, the server should validate that configuration change before applying it. However, it is possible that a configuration change can appear to be valid at the time that it is applied, but does not work as expected when the server is restarted. Alternately, a change in the underlying system can cause a previously-valid configuration to become invalid.

In most cases involving an invalid configuration, the server displays (and writes to the error log) a message that explains the problem, and this can be sufficient to identify the problem and understand what action needs to be taken to correct it. If for some reason the startup failure does not provide enough information to identify the problem with the configuration, then look in the logs/config-audit.log file to see what recent configuration changes have been made with the server online, or in the config/archived-configs directory to see if there might have been a recent configuration change resulting from a direct change to the configuration file itself that was not made through a supported configuration interface.

If the server does not start as a result of a recent invalid configuration change, then it can be possible to start the server using the configuration that was in place the last time that the server started successfully (for example, the "last known good" configuration). This can be achieved using the --useLastKnownGoodConfig option:
$ bin/start-server --useLastKnownGoodConfig

Note that if it has been a long time since the last time the server was started and several configuration changes have been made since that time, then the last known good configuration can be significantly out of date. In such cases, it can be preferable to manually repair the configuration.

If there is no last known good configuration, if the server no longer starts with the last known good configuration, or if the last known good configuration is significantly out of date, then manually update the configuration by editing the config/config.ldif file. In that case, you should make sure that the server is offline and that you have made a copy of the existing configuration before beginning. You might wish to discuss the change with your authorized support representative before applying it to ensure that you understand the correct change that needs to be made.
Note: In addition to manually-editing the configuration file, you can look at previous archived configurations to see if the most recent one works. You can also use the ldif-diff tool to compare the configurations in the archive to the current configuration to see what is different.