unable to boot into windows

Toshiba Sat pro 4340 p3-650 12.0gb 64mb...
November 21, 2009 at 14:01:48
Specs: unknown, unknown
I am trying to help a friend fix his computer. he is unable to get into windows, even in safe mode. He gets to the point of where he decides what account he wants to log in with, but then it goes no further, it just saves the settings and then returns to the sme menu.

I rebooted the machine with a windows XP pro cd and did an R to get to the recover console. I backuped up the following files from the c:\windows\system32\config directory;


I then overlayed theses files with a copy from c:\windows\repair.

This did not seem to help. I get to the same screen, the only difference been that the Administrator is the only account avaliable to log in with. However when I click it I get the same two messages;

loading settings followed by saving settings

continued in another post in case of character limit.

See More: unable to boot into windows

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November 21, 2009 at 14:06:36
I did the following instructions from a article I found on the internet. I thought maybe I missed one file so I decided to try it again. I copied the same 5 files from the c:\windows\repair directory and then tried to reboot again. Now I can't even get to the logon screen.

Another method of recovery I have done succesfully before is to copy the files from a previous restore point by accessing the snapshots under the system volume information directory. I was going to try that next on this computer but the directory is protected and the attrib command was unable to unprotect. A suggestion on a forum was to take the drive out and install it in another machine (as a slave I am assuming) and then use windows to change the permissions so everyone has full control. Would I jepoardize the master drive in the other computer if I do this?

Does anyone have any alternative suggestions I should try.

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November 21, 2009 at 16:19:48
Presumably "last known good config" isn't an option? Likewise have you considered a true repair installation (as in overwrite the current installation)?

Both of these go thru the repair (non-destructive overwrite) routine...:



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November 22, 2009 at 18:17:06
I have tried two XP boot cd's I have here an neither one will allow me to get to a point where I can do a repair. I get as far as hitting F8 to accept the licene agreement and then the next screen I get has the following choices;

To set up Windows Xp on the selected item press ENTER

To create a partition in the unpartitioned space, Press C

To delete the selected partition, press D.

I tried recreating the boot.ini, but this did not help either. Any other ideas?

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November 23, 2009 at 15:29:23
mmm - odd to say the least... you appear to be able to boot the system to minimal degree then back it goes... Yet when you run a repair routine it seems to imply there is nothing on the drive - or that all it can find is unpartitioned space?

Can you get a copy of a Linux variant (Knopppix or Ubuntu) on CD/DVD, and if so boot the system with that. Then see if you can "view" the actual hard-drive in the system (as is); and if so is there "anything" on it at all?

Do you have any input from your "friend" about what he was doing immediately prior to this problem arriving? Did he download anything from wherever; did he install anything "new"? Were there any "unusual/odd" symtpoms, behaviours etc. prior to the event?

Also... what are the versions of the XP CDs you have used - in terms of service packs? If they are sp-1 and the system is at least sp-2 or even sp-3 (upgraded etc..)... then you can/will likely get the option only to install - not repair... Having been down that particular road a little while back with an Acer Aspire... I can speak from personal experience there This even though many others here (but not all) will disagree with me...

If you know (or can find out what the sp-level is on the duff system - presumably it will be at least sp-2, then you need an XP disk with that level of sp included. You can take an earlier version and slipstream the later sp into it; then try with that slipstreamed disk. (And if by chance the duff system was up to sp-3 then use a disk slipstreamed with sp-3).

But first verify what's actually on the drive itself - via a Knoppix or Ubuntu boot up.

And also if there is a real concern about securing data etc. (and for me at this stage that would be my prime concern and move) then, via either Linux variant, you can copy all data off the drive to optical media - providing it's all still there on the hard-drive to start with? Having made those copies... verify they are truly accessible on another working system. Then set about resolving the actual problem... Risking data loss during a fix-it session is not a wise move at best of times?

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November 27, 2009 at 09:19:01
hi trvlr,

Sorry had a busy week. What I have done at this point is tried a IDE/SATA adapter that out hardware repair guy had at work. With this adapter I was able to connect the hard drive to my laptop at work and I am currently running a MCafee scan on it. I will also run MalwareBytes and see what turns up. Anything else you reccomend I do now that I can actually access the disk drive.

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November 27, 2009 at 09:32:20
I scanned the drive with both McAfee and MalwareBytes and both scans came back clean.

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November 27, 2009 at 10:36:37
Most definitely transfer - as in copy - to optical media all data/critical/personal files etc...; and ensure that someone has required CD (OS/apps etc.) keys should there be need for any of them at some time... Verify those optical copies are tuly accessible to on at least one other system...

Then one can safely explore other options re' resolving the problem situation...

Determine what version of SP is bundled/included with any XP setup disks you have to hand; also if possible find out what level of SP the duff system was at...? Likely if it's been frequently updated as per M$ etc... then it will at least SP-2 and possibly even SP-3... Thus (as I mentioned in earlier post) you will need an XP CD with that level of SP included; either one that came that way (from M$ etc.?) or that you create by slipstreaming SP2 or SP-3 into an earlier SP-1 version.

Then see if you can detect/discover (and thus run a repair of) the duff installation that way (when the drive is of course re-installed in its own system)?

Your worst case scenario is re-install of the OS; either wipe/repartition etc. the drive and re-install. Or simply leave drive as is and install a new version to current OS partition. You will likely lose all data that's in MyDocuments Folder etc. during the process - which is why FIRST copy it to optical while you accessing the drive via the adapter... If you go second option - install without tweaking etc. the drive.. you may end up with a dual boot menu listing new and duff installation... Possibly (and I have no way to know if it will or not) you may then find the "duff" installation works OK...; but I doubt it...

Once you started copying assorted versions of essential boot-up files etc. I think you were into a road to nowhere... There is that rename and copy etc. routine in a M$ KB that enables one to get a system back again (uses earlier an backup of registry files etc.); but I have never used it...

Again - FIRST - safeguard data etc. Then set about recovering a working system...

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November 27, 2009 at 12:41:07
hi trvlr,

My friend has told me that there is nothing on the C drive he needs. The physical drive is actually divided into two virtual drives and all his data is on the 2nd drive. So providfed the entire physical drive doesn't pack it in, I am okay. I will look and see how many mp3's he has on the other drive and back them up just in case.

I will determine what version my XP cd is. It could very well be a version earlier that what is installed on the hard drive. Now if I understand this correctly, I need the version of the CD to be the same SP as what is on the hard drive. If my CD is older, I need to slipstream it ( I have seen articles on this). The only thing I am confused about is your last comment which says "you will need an XP CD with that level of SP included; either one that came that way (from M$ etc.?) or that you create by slipstreaming SP2 or SP-3 into an earlier SP-1 version." If slipstreaming is the process of making the CD the same version as the machine, would I not be slipstreaming SP1 to SP2 or SP3, not the other way around. Also if this is true, once I have done this, does that mean when I install that CD I am automatically at SP2 or 3 and would not need to do any SP updates?

When you say "started copying assorted versions of essential boot-up files etc" are you referring to the process where you access snapshot directories under the system volume information directory. If so I have actually done this once successfully to recover someone's machine that was the same issue as this one (not being able to log into Windows). Once I was able to get to the drive with the adapter, I did find a restore point from Sept 26th, so I copied the files from there to the system32/config directory. Unfortuantely I do not have a machine here I can test with, so I will test the drive when I get home to see if things are fixed or not.

Two other questions I have is you refer to duff system and M$. I have never heard these terms. What do they mean?

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November 27, 2009 at 15:40:37
mmm - Guess my age and pedigree is showing a little...

"duff" is WW1 and WW2 RAF slang - and later Goon show ('50's BBC radio comedy show...) used it too; and thus several generations used it in daily parlance... It means something that is no longer functioning as "it orta"...; as in it is broke, or dead, it is no more... (as is Monty Python this parrot is not a parrot; it is a dead parrot sketch...).

Also "duff gen" is another one (same origins) that means incorrect, or faulty, or no-longer valid/accurate information; or put plain and simple - information that is "wrong"...

M$ is an often adopted reference to MS (Microsoft - Micro$oft) due the "small" amount of money they have amassed over the years; and continue to do so - although nowadays they are doing a lot of nice (and very charitable) things with it too...

Slipstreaming: yes you would take an XP CD that is SP-1 and mix (slipstream) SP-2 or SP-3 into it; which will give you a new and more current XP CD as a result. This you would then use to attempt a repair install etc. of the current "duff" system... Any full/upgrade installation made with that disk will likely need a few updates (as per norm) but that's all. But if you merely use that disk to access repair routines... I think you will still need to ensure that updates (SP etc.) are current all the way afterwards... Not entirely sure about that bit though...

The main purpose of the slipstreamed disk is to enable/provide access to the repair routines proper; which if the duff system is higher SP etc. than the CD-SP won't happen/be possible (at least from my - and more than few others - experience).

Incidentally does this (currently "duff") Toshiba system have any associated (dreaded) recovery disk for it; and/or does it use a dreaded recovery partition?

There is a routine in M$ KB-land that discusses how to access original or recent backups of all registry files etc. Which having done one renames them - having first deleted or renamed the versions there as/when system failed... (usually advised to rename those now possibly faulty version - just in case; or even save to usb or similar?). Then one copies those backups to appropriate locations thus replacing the possibly "duff" versions...?

I read you comment re' copying files etc as possibly: copying files from one system to another - which is not exactly a kosher or reliable way to go. Which is not say it can't be done and doesn't always work as clearly you have evidence otherwise... Nonetheless the two systems involved have to be near a dammit identical in terms of hardware, drive partitioning etc.? Locating the original backups; or any later equivalents is viable - as per the M$ KB to which I refer briefly above...

This is the M$ KB re' repair installation approach; not dissimilar to the Michael Stevens one I posted earlier...?


and this is the M$-KB about restoring the original registry - which is what what I was alluding to earlier; manged to find the actual KB finally... If you haven't tried this approach - it "might" work?


Any/all attempts being unsuccessful then either have a crack at slipstreamed CD and repair routine - or a parallel installation (leave the drive as is for this one); or start a afresh completely?

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November 28, 2009 at 12:28:40
Hi trvlr,

Thanks for the explanation on duff and M$. I had an idea of what they were but just wanted to confirm. As for your age that just means you are more knowledgeable and expeienced.

I think I confused you when I was talking about copying files. I was not referring to copying from one piece of hardware to another. As you said they would have to be almost identical if not 100% identical for this to work. What I was referring to was that I have been told that when a system restore point is created, there is a snapshot directory created under the system volume information directory. In this snapshot directory is the 5 files that should be in the system32\config directory (sam, default, system software and security). Copying these files from the snapshot directory simulates a system restore when you cannot get into windows. At least this is how I understand it. This is from Charlie White's XP crashed document that a lot of people seem to refer to.

Anyay after this procedure I still cannot get into Windows. Next I will try the article you mentioned from M$-KB restoring the original registry.

If this does not work then I will try to determine what SP version is on the disk. I am a little unsure how to do this based on the two options you mentioned (knoppix and Ubuntu) which both seem to be linux utilities.

Once I can determine this I can work on creating a slipstream cd and then see if I can get a recovery option.

Unfortunately this machine does not have a recovery CD. And I appologize for the 'Toshiba' brand. This computer is actually cutom built. He had another friend build for him. Not sure why he didn't ask him to fix it. Could be his wife and I are good friends as well as my ex....lol. But before I could proceed I had to specify a manufactuer and could not seem to pick anything that was not on a pre-determined list.

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November 28, 2009 at 13:26:15
I'd create a slipstreamed XP cd and see if it does what you want - as in allow a repair of current installation (providing it will actually detect it)...

If it doesn't then likely you are into a re-installation (parallel installation and not tweaking the drive partitioning etc.). Unless of course the restorrre of original regiastry succedds?

Again first ensure you have safeguarded data...

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November 28, 2009 at 13:47:28
hi trvlr,

I checked M$ KB article 307545 and the first thing I am not sure about is 'do not sue this article if you have an OEM install OS on this computer'. What exactly does this mean and how would I be sure?

Secondly it refers to Guided Help and how you can download and install it and have it do the recovery for you. If you cannot log into windows on a machine how woud would you download and install anything?

Anyway I am trying the procedure again.

So far I have done the following;

I had already created a /tmp directory and copied all 5 hives from system32\config the first time I tried this procedure so I skipped this step.

2nd I deleted the current 5 hives from system32\config. Also there was a system.sav, software.sav and default.sav. I moved these three files to c:\windows\091128 (newly created directory). there were a lot of .LOG files for each hive but I left them there. Funny thing was they looked like binary files.

3rd I copied the 5 hives from windows\repair to windows\system32\config.

It now tells me to type exit and says my computer will restart. Well my computer does not start so I assuming the procedure in this article is not working for me. I tried starting in safe mode and it gets so far and just seems to stop.

So I will now try the slipstreaming approach. Is there a way to determine what SP the cd is? The only way I know is to use it to do an install and see what SP gets installed.

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November 28, 2009 at 14:31:57
hi trvlr

One more question. Does my XP cd have to be at the exact SP release that is on the drive, or at the same relwase or newer. If it is the latter I thought I would just slip stream my cd to SP3.

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November 28, 2009 at 16:13:57
I haven't yet had to run that M$-KB registry restore routine (thankfully...)

I'm not sure quite why M$ advise the routine won't work with an OEM installation; not something I'm at all clued on.

However I understand that OEM installations are different to retail version; and as many will tell you, the CD will be tied to that installation. If you have to replace major items (MoBo for example)... you "may" not be able to repair the installation to work with the new board; or be able install afresh to accommodate the new board. In effect the OEM DC is now useless. But I think there are "get outs" nonetheless in that regard...

Unless one can boot through to view a desktop and at least view MyComputer\properties I don't know of any way to determine the level of SP installed... The Acer laptop I'm using now was SP1, upgraded to SP2 and has all updates applied (barring both IE7 and IE8 releases) . It still shows as SP2 in MyComputer\Properties - even though it's more than likely pretty well SP3 level? I'm surmising that if I applied SP3 proper it would then show it's SP3 and no-longer SP2.

Bearing mind XP has been around a few years now, its likely the duff installation is at least SP-2 (consequent of regular updates) - and if regularly updated as per norm - it's likely more or less SP3 level. Perhaps the owner/user of sed system can advise if he has installed SP2 or even SP3?

I'd be inclined to make a slipstreamed SP3 disk and see what happens?

I do know (as I mentioned in earlier posts) that if the CD is an earlier SP level than the duff OS it at time of "repair" then likely that earlier CD will not find the now upgraded SP version. Which is why one would create a later SP version?

What SP is a given "original" CD; and how to determine what it is? I have no idea... other than to actually run a setup routine and see what they produce at completion?

I have a couple of OEM disks and they have nothing on the disk labeling to say what the SP is. But as they are dated as 2002 issue I know they are SP1 level just by that date; and as it happens it is also how they were advertised when I bought them...

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November 28, 2009 at 22:05:21
Hi trvlr,

Another update. I went to try the process again and couldn't find one of my XP cd's. I found it in the drive and it got me thinking, which Xp cd was I using. So I decided that I would try both cd's again to see if I could get a R to recover windows. Well I tried the first cd and lo and behold after I pressed f8 to accept the licence I got to the screen where I could pick the windows installation and press R. I did this and windows did a bunch of stuff (copying files, etc) and I then go to the Windows installation window (39 mins to go). Well I just checked and I got an error;

An error has occured that does not allow setup to continue

Setup failed to install the product catalogs. This is a fatal error.

A google search seemed to indicate that the process was unable to delete all the files from c:\windows\system32\catroot2 and to rename the directory. I tried this but it did not seem to help.

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November 28, 2009 at 23:03:27
I found another article that said this might be because of a non valid XP cd. I am wondering if this is the cause because I believe the CD that I used has exhausted its limit of installations. I didn't think this would matter because I am assuming my friend already had a legitimate copy of Windows XP as he was not get any messages to indicate otherwise.

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November 29, 2009 at 02:06:11
I ran a Google trawl using the string:


and there are many hits from that. These two are eraly in the lists...; suggest you read them both... The first tells you what that folder etc. "is"; and the second refers to a nasty that can infect and thus affect the installation...



I suggest yu run a similar trawl and have read of more of the info "out there" (Scully); as it may help resolve it all for you...

And again ensure all data has been safeguarded first.

XP disks themselves don't wear out; but yes there is limit on the number of registrations/activations allowed before you hit a brick wall. As I understand it, M$ will permit more if you contact them and explain the situation - as in you have and are still having problems with the system; that as a result you are having to re-install yet again...

I also ran another trawl using:

An error has occurred that does not allow setup to continue Setup failed to install the product catalogs. This is a fatal error

(the error message you report...) Again worth to read the results although not as many/detailed etc. on how to resolve...?

"If" by chance you were able to access the drive via Knoppix/Ubuntu boot - or another working system (via a usb adapter) - then possibly you could delete the contents of that folder, after-which see if the repair/re-installation will succeed? Or have you gone this path already and it still doesn't work?

However I'm becoming inclined more and more to suggesting that if you can't repair (installation) the duff installation - install afresh - parallel without changing drive config etc... Just run a fresh installation and do not reformat etc. the drive; or delete any contents therein. But be aware that the MyDocuments folder from the duff installation will likely be blown away and be replaced by a fresh folder via the new/parallel installation... (which is why safeguard the contents in the current one first)?

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November 29, 2009 at 11:39:22
Morning trlvr,

I need to you to explain to me what a Google trawl is. It is interesting that the second link is from McAfee because while I had the bad drive hooked to my laptop at work using a IDE/SATA adapter kit, I ran my McAffee virus scanner against it and it came back clean. I also ran MalwareBytes and it also came back clean. I was just thinkinking maybe I should have run ccleaner as well.

As far as accessing the drive I can also access it by booting up with the XP cd and then going to the Recovery Console. I could delete the catroot2 directory from there. In fact I already did that by renaming the directory to catroot2_old. This did not seem to resolve the problem. I am not worried about a new MyDocuments folder being created on the duff system as my friend has all his data on a different virtual drive (the physical drive is partitioned into two drives).

One the second link, there is an additional link at the end called 'Additional Windows ME/XP removal considerations'. This link talks about possibly having an infected file in the system restore and disabling system restore to be able to remove it. Hoever this process has to happen inside windows which doesn't help me very much. I am not sure at this point why it would be using any system restore files anyway.

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November 29, 2009 at 13:10:55
Google Trawl - as in searching or "trawling" for information via Google... A bit like deep sea fishermen who "trawl" the ocean for fish; and also deep sea/ocean (bottom) salvage
operators and others will similarly trawl (search) for whatever...?

As all data etc. is secure off the system I'd be much inclined to simply install a fresh version of the OS, and thus avoid spending any more time/effort chasing nasties... - which may or not still be there. The damage has been done by whatever... What matters now is getting a working system again... and either a parallel installation or a complete reconfig/reformat of the drive (partition/s) etc. will give a fresh start?

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November 30, 2009 at 12:55:27
Hi Trvlr,

I tend to agree. To be clear, you mentioned earlier that I should do a fresh install over the current copy of windows and not delete the current directory. Will this hopefully resolve my fears that after I do the install it may ask me to reactivate windows and I may not have a key. I am not sure what key the current system is using and as I said yesterday I am wondering if my CD has outlasted its number of activations.

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November 30, 2009 at 14:37:03
mmm... You said earlier that at one stage when running "setup" you were given an option to create a partition in the free space on the drive, or to delete the current (selected) partition.

Also it appeared that the current/duff installation isn't detected (or wasn't at early times/posts) during setup...

If you did try setup with an suitably slipstreamed XP disk (with a more recent SP) - possibly you may see/find evidence of the duff installation. If so then go the repair path (NOT using recovery Console) - as in earlier links. Or simply install afresh along side duff installation - same partition etc.

Otherwise simply start over and delete all partitions on the drive and repartition etc. via setup. And this time create a Primary and an Extended partition. OS etc. in Primary, data etc. in Extended (logical-drive).

However.. it's the license key you are going to need - certainly if you go a fresh/parallel installation... (I seem to recall you don't need it for a repair - and thus no need to re-activate...; but I might be wrong there?)

If you manage to find it and even if the disk you are using has exceed the "reasonable"(?) number of re-installs M$ allows... one can always chat them up and ask for more... (Seem to recall asking for more sort of worked for Oliver?).

Did you manage to view the drive as is via another OS? If so... I think ("therefore I am" - said Nietzshe; although really "he" ought to have said: "I am, therefore I think" - as per Maharishi and the Veda) it "may be possible to find it that way... Failing which... not at all sure how you get it, or another like it...?

In a working system one can run any of several l utils to find it... Possibly same utils run in an OS to which the duff system/drive is slaved (or attached via usb) may allow it still?

Worth a try... before going any further with an actual re-installation?

Also perhaps chat up M$ and see if they will oblige with a fresh key? If the disk you have is legitimate and there are details on the holographed labeling that may satisfy them... then who knows (only the Shadow nows)...

Util such as Key-finder; Belarc, Sisandra come to mind for finding all installed keys...?

Also these links may offer an option - as in offering a way to locate and store safely the required activation info; providing one can access required folders and data is still there? Perhaps read and see if it is possible here? View drive via another OS etc. to find/save the required folders/files? This approach seems to remove the need to re-activate via M$; and if successful once system is up and running... you can safely use one the suitable utils to ferret out all keys for all installed OS/apps/utils etc. Having done so... make hard (printed) copies and also cd/dvd copies (a couple of each) for archives/reference use?






All of the above via a Google trawl using:

re-activate after XP repair installation?

as the string...

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December 7, 2009 at 07:22:08
sorry trvlr,

I have been busy that last few days and have not had a chance to look at these links. Will do so today. I was also wondering if it might be a good idea to get the actual machine. What I have been doing so far is I pulled the drive out of my friends machine and brought it home with me and I have been testing it in another machine. I was thinking on the weekend about a comment you made that if the motherboard changes, it may cause an issue.

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December 7, 2009 at 07:33:34
ahhh.. not a good approach to put the drive in another PC - diffeerent MoBo etc... That wll not work as in boot etc.) even if the installation "was OK". Unlike ealier windows OS one cannot tranfer XP drives to another system and it all works... One has to run a repair routine etc...

I'd hike over and get the PC it came from; then start afresh.

Presumably you are satisfied with the full scans for nasties; and ideally have done a freebie Trend Housecall one as well (and perhaps AVG too). This of course slaving the drive to another working system or - easier these days - via usb adapter etc...

But definitely get the drive's own PC first; otherwise you are going in circles for sure...

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