Solved As Soon as I Login, Windows Logs Me Out

Dell / DIMENSION 2400
February 18, 2013 at 10:21:36
Specs: MS-DOS 7.10, Pentium 4 / 1GB
I have been troubleshooting some printing issues with a network printer and things got pretty messed-up. This Windows 2000 is on a Logical drive (it is both the system and boot partition, and I use a boot manager). So I restored the partition with the most recent ghost image. On the first boot after I entered the Administrator password a "Windows Installer" message popped up saying "Preparing to install...". That disappeared about 15 seconds later and I see the usual message "Loading your personal settings...". Then the message "Saving your settings..." and I am returned to the Login dialog. Same thing no matter how many times I try to login or reboot, except that the "Windows Installer" message only appeared the first time. Something does still flash too quick to read. I restored an older image and got the same results.

I recently made changes to the BIOS, (disabling ports) but have since returned everything the way it was. That led to quite a disruption of the operating system, on top of the existing print problems, hence my reason for the rollback.

Any ideas on what might cause this are greatly appreciated!


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✔ Best Answer
February 20, 2013 at 13:06:32
Formatting wasn't the problem, but thanks for the suggestion. As I suspected, drive mappings were messed-up, a lot of them. You can list drive mappings in the Recovery Console, but no way to change as far as I could tell. They scroll off the screen, and the pipe to MORE doesn't work. Neither does "<Ctrl>s" or "PAUSE" key. The ROOT partition was assigned to "R:".

You can change drive mappings with 'Partition Saving' from a DOS floppy. It is tedious, not intuitive, and the help file is essentially in a foreign language (poorly spelled english following foreign grammar rules). I've always been able to use it in the past when needed, but this time Windows keeps reassigning the ROOT to "R:". I suspect the disk signature has been messed with, because in the past I have always been able to restore images to partitions in different locations, and only ever had to hack the hidden sectors value in the PBS to make them functional.

All this troubleshooting was going nowhere fast, so I replaced all of track 0 with a backup circa 2007, repartitioned so I had one with same start and end LBA as during same period, formatted, and restored an image from the same era. Replaced track 0 on other drive in system too. With everything replaced that could possibly come into play I expected it should work now, and it does!

I have a little bit of information to gather, then this old thing gets parted out. It will take more investigation to find out exactly what caused this problem.



#1
February 18, 2013 at 16:06:12
I would say the image itself sounds corrupted, but if you tried a previous version of the image and its giving the same errors, then that's not it.

What it honestly sounds like to me is the image is not being written to the drive correctly. What I would do from here is format the drive and then put the image back on it. Or is that how you were doing it in the first place?

Jonas "Jackal" Lear
http://www.sbccrew.com
Serving the South Bay Since 1999


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#2
February 18, 2013 at 19:47:37
I am using Symantec Ghost, not the crappy Norton Ghost. It automatically reformats as needed and I have never had a problem with it doing so. However I will give that a try. Incidentally I made three restores with two different versions of Ghost to rule out corruption in the imaging software. Also, the earlier image restored to FAT32 to rule out a filesystem related error. All with same exact results. I do have an idea though.

Attempting to login in SAFE MODE and booting the 'Microsoft way' both have essentially the same results, except that the "Windows Installer" message pops up every time. I can log in with the Recovery Console.

The only thing different with these restores (vs. past successful ones) is that I used Ghost 2003 (the first time) and it asked me to mark the drives as usable by Ghost. In the past I always chose not to, but I didn't have a problem doing this on other PC's running XP. The last restore was with Ghost 2001 - same results. Also, the CD-ROM will not open, but I expect this is an unrelated hardware issue.

I did hack the hidden sectors value in the boot sector. I am familiar with the problem that causes, and this is different.

I have a hint of the possible cause from logging into Windows 98 on the same machine. A "Preparing to install..." message pops up there too, then a message that "D:" does not have enough space. Windows 98 is looking at the wrong partition. My program files are on a separate partition (D:). Some time ago, I moved some things and must have left an extra partition between C: and D: that Windows 98 recognizes.

That said, Windows 2000 maps the partition signatures to drive letters. If Ghost 2003 messed with these signatures when I let it "mark the drive as usable", then all the drive mappings in the Registry could be different.

Is there a way to check the drive mappiings from the Recovery Console?


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#3
February 19, 2013 at 14:20:43
In regards to your question of being able to check drive mappings from the recovery console, that is a possibility, but I wouldn't hold my breath on it.

It does however, sound like you're onto something here with that idea.

How did the manual formatting and re-installation go?

Jonas "Jackal" Lear
http://www.sbccrew.com
Serving the South Bay Since 1999


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#4
February 20, 2013 at 13:06:32
✔ Best Answer
Formatting wasn't the problem, but thanks for the suggestion. As I suspected, drive mappings were messed-up, a lot of them. You can list drive mappings in the Recovery Console, but no way to change as far as I could tell. They scroll off the screen, and the pipe to MORE doesn't work. Neither does "<Ctrl>s" or "PAUSE" key. The ROOT partition was assigned to "R:".

You can change drive mappings with 'Partition Saving' from a DOS floppy. It is tedious, not intuitive, and the help file is essentially in a foreign language (poorly spelled english following foreign grammar rules). I've always been able to use it in the past when needed, but this time Windows keeps reassigning the ROOT to "R:". I suspect the disk signature has been messed with, because in the past I have always been able to restore images to partitions in different locations, and only ever had to hack the hidden sectors value in the PBS to make them functional.

All this troubleshooting was going nowhere fast, so I replaced all of track 0 with a backup circa 2007, repartitioned so I had one with same start and end LBA as during same period, formatted, and restored an image from the same era. Replaced track 0 on other drive in system too. With everything replaced that could possibly come into play I expected it should work now, and it does!

I have a little bit of information to gather, then this old thing gets parted out. It will take more investigation to find out exactly what caused this problem.


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