XP Pro Constantly reboots at the XP splash screen

My work pc, running XP Pro, is rebooting automatically to the startup menu and no matter what you select (SafeMode, Last Known Good, Normal, etc.), it will show the the XP splash screen with the scrolling bar for 3 seconds then reboot -- every time.   It will not go further.

One thing that I may have done to cause this (really, obviously THE cause) is that my pc, which has not been rebooted for a week and running very slow, was unplugged because of my impatience during shutdown.  When I restarted, I got all the normally shutdown windows but when it said "Saving your
settings" (which is where it's copying my romaing profile back to the server), I waited for over 30 minutes and was hasty and pulled the plug even though there seemed to have been HD activity.  Yes, I f'd up ;)

I have so far as to go into the Recovery Console via the CD.   Once at the command prompt, the first thing I noticed that it doesn't default me to C:\Windows>, but rather C:\, which is what all the documentation said I should be at that I've seen.   I can access my CDRom Drive and when I type HELP, I do get the list of available commands at this console (Attrib, ChkDsk, Del, etc.).    

What I can't do is simple things like change directories (cd Windows) or make directories (md tmp) I get "Access Denied".   I did run with success, "FixMbr" and "FixBoot".   <--- Didn't help.

Now, in my research, the most accurate page I've found so far to what I'm experiencing is that my problem is a corrupted kernel32.dll.   But, I can't follow the recommendations of restoring it via its instuctions because of the "Access Denied" msg to the HD.    


From this page, the part in bullet "d." said that "When you're prompted, type the Administrator password."   So, I'm guessing this will give me the HD Access I need.   I don't know why it's not prompting me nor do I know how to intiate it.   This is what I hope someone knows something about.

Any and all advice would be more than appreciated.

Who is Participating?
LeeTutorConnect With a Mentor retiredCommented:
If you cannot get the system working in Recovery Console, I think you may be driven to doing this:  This is how to reinstall Windows XP over itself:

How to Perform an In-Place Upgrade (Reinstallation) of Windows XP

Here is a nice visual walk through of the procedure (but unless you have a fast connection, it will take a little time to load the page!):


Click on the link for: How To Repair Windows XP by Reinstalling

Here are a couple of Microsoft Knowledge Base articles you should read which concern possible data loss when you reinstall/repair XP:

You May Lose Data or Program Settings After Reinstalling, Repairing, or Upgrading Windows XP

Data Loss May Occur After Reinstalling, Repairing, or Upgrading Windows XP
Note that, from the above articles, the problem of data loss if your Windows XP was installed by the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) has been corrected if your Windows XP has Service Pack 1 installed.
The Recovery Console is, by design, a rather limited interface to WinXP.  You might find some very useful info in this article:

Description of the Windows XP Recovery Console

This is a pretty good tutorial on using the Recovery Console, with lots of screen shots:


HarmonicMinorAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all the info and links, LeeTutor.   I'll check them all out.

I do have XP SP1 installed with all the latest Service Packs.   If I do have to reinstall, per the page provided, w/o losing my current HD folders, that's fine.   I can quickly get Windows and my Apps up to snuff at that point.   My only concern with this root is that I'm able to secure the important folders on my HD (Almost a gig in documents application code).   I use to be in a habit of backing my important things up but unfortunately, I've been laxed to take such simple measures the past several months when my office went from three IT sppt people down to only me with a staff of 60 people and 18 servers to support.
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timothyfryerConnect With a Mentor Commented:
In order to gain access to the other directories inside the recovery console, you have to first enable the SET command option which with one of the tools listed in this link:   http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?kbid=235364
Unfortunately, I think all of those tools are only available in Windows, but you might want to check it out to make sure.
Yes..  if you want to access different folders you need to use the SET command to add the proper environmental variables...   But that is the catch.. you can only run the SET command within Windows first...    lol, eh?

HarmonicMinorAuthor Commented:
"you can only run the SET command within Windows first...    lol, eh?"

I won't be "lol" if that's true FE, if it is indeed a fact.  If so, I guess LeeTutor's links may help me.  

Setting the SET command within a working OS environement first?!?    You have to be kidding me........ahhh!..@*#(*&^%
Fatal_ExceptionConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Yes, pretty frustrating.  When I install an OS, the first thing I do is to create the SET environmental variable.  You would think that MS would do something about that.  By the time you realize you need it, it is too late..

From:  Description of the SET Command in Recovery Console


Before you can change any of the environment variables to TRUE, you must enable the set command option using one of the following Windows security tools:
The Security Configuration and Analysis snap-in in Microsoft Management Console (MMC)
The Domain Controller Security Policy in Administrative Tools.
The Domain Security Policy in Administrative Tools.
The Local Security Policy in Administrative Tools.
HarmonicMinorAuthor Commented:
Thanks, EF.

I didn't realize when reading this link provided by LeeTutor that (or one similar):

"Recovery Console: Allow Automatic Administrative Logon.
Recovery Console: Allow floppy copy and access to all drives and all folders."

...meant, what you said needs to be set pronto upon installation?!?

Really, setting an environment variable at the OS level for this console's uses?    

Thanks so much for the insight and installation tip.    We'll what I experience with all this come tomorrow, US EST.
HarmonicMinorAuthor Commented:
I meant, "We'll see what I'll experience...."  =o)
*grin*  The SET command can be optioned at anytime within  the OS..  it is just that when it is needed most (using the RC) that is when you realize that you did enable it..  
Yeah, I guess it's kind of like those automated system recovery thingies that I always think of as I'm passing through to the rc login.  Fatal, have you ever had ActiveX disabled and then while going through a website, get hit with an ActiveX driveby and when you go into the logs it says policy=ignore and let it install anyway.  I was of the impression that if you had it disabled in internet options, that meant it was disabled, but this is probably the 4th time this has happened and I don't want to dismiss it as wierd science.  Is it a bug or a security policy or ?
Man, never seen that before..  I allow signed ActiveX on my workstation, but do not let any in with my server..  Now you have me wondering..  Guess I will have to ck the logs to find out..  :(
I'm going to post the tail end of the Setupapi.log in a question in just a minute.
HarmonicMinorAuthor Commented:
LeeTutor, in following the reinstallation per this link you provided:


I don't get the next screen to install to "C:\Windows......"    with the ENTER and Repair option at the bottom of the screen.   This is the screen after where it says to press F8 tp accept the licence agreement.

Instead, it says:

"C:     Partition1 [UNKNOWN]         76.456 MB free"

with "Enter=Install  D=Delete Patition"

Because of the corruption, the installation is not correctly seeing my copy of XP.  

1) Is there any way around this for a reinstallation?

2) Or, is there a way I can access my HD to retrieve my important folders, which is all that's important at this point (about 2 gigs worth)?

I would have thought using FIXMBR and/or FIXBOOT in the RC would correct that, but since you said in your question that it didn't, I must admit to being stumped.

As to recovering your data this MIGHT work:


Find "Restoration" as program number 6 on the above page.

Restoration is an easy to use and straight forward tool to undelete files that were removed from the recycle bin or directly deleted from within Windows. Upon start, you can scan for all files that may be recovered and also limit the results by entering a search term or extension. In addition, it also provides the option to wipe the found files beyond simple recovery. The program is small and standalone, it does not require installation and can also run from a Floppy disk. Restoration works with FAT and NTFS as well as digital cameras cards.

For other possibilities, take a look at this comprehensive list of file/data recovery programs and services, compiled (and many tested) by the top Expert at Experts Exchange, CrazyOne:


I don't know if this would work or not because I've never tried anything with autoexec.bat before in xp but since it's not getting any further than three disco light cords into the spash screen, I would think one of the early drivers with an errorcontrol value of 2 or 3 is kicking it back to restart.  The errorcontrol for the different drivers and services is maintained in the controlsets under the services key for any given control set but is probably identical to any other xp machine for most of the services if the value hasn't been changed.
If you could figure out which driver or service  is kicking it out of boot, you might could run a batch file triggered by autoexec.bat  to rewrite the files that initialize them, removing any services with errorcontrol values of 2 or 3 and any unnecessary drivers.  I'm not sure what those files are besides system.ini but they are viewable with msinfo32 in windows and I suspect are probably text files.  If so, then starting windows will presumably parse the autoexec.bat file unless thats been disabled in msconfig.  Autoexec.bat is in C:\ which I think is where you land when you login to the rc although I may be wrong.  Using the autoexec.bat file, and executing it just by starting the machine, you may be able to retrieve or rewrite or replace just about anything on the machine.
HarmonicMinorAuthor Commented:
I lucked out!

I rebooted back to the console to view more of the commands.   I attempted to run BootCfg but it said that I had to run Chkdsk first.   I already did this on Fri so I did it again.   This time, I used the /f switch.   It took almost two hours to run.   After it was complete, it said that it fixed a few problems (not in those words).    

I still couldn't run BootCfg nor do a cd BUT I was able to do a DIR and view the contants of my HD finally!   Everything was intact.

I then restarted and I still got the Startup Menu so selected Normal Startup.   I got right in!!

Of course, the first thing that I did was run MMC /s and activate that plug-in  ;)

Since all of you helped and this thread is loaded with useful info, I'm going to PAQ it and divi the pts.

Thanks all !
Glad you got it going.  I can't speak for the other Experts but don't feel obliged to give points if info wasn't helpful.  You're entitled to a refund in Support if you fixed it yourself.  Good Luck.  
HarmonicMinorAuthor Commented:
The main reason why I want to PAQ this is because of the mucho info that this thread has.   This could really help someone else out in the future if it was paq'd  =o)

I keep trying to split the pts and after I assign a value to all three of you, I cannot put a radio button on three different comments/answers.

So, how do you split pts?
HarmonicMinorAuthor Commented:
FYI - I posted the prob I'm having with CS.   Perhaps they'll take care of it.

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