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ntoskrnl.exe corrupt or missing after Windows Updates !!!

Posted on 2004-10-14
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Last Modified: 2010-04-19
I have a Windows Server 2003 (Standard Edition) and when i tried to install some critical updates the Server crashed, then I tried a cold reboot and on startup I got the following error 'ntoskrnl.exe corrupt or missing please re-install', tried several approaches including expanding the original ntoskrnl.ex_ file (of the CD) to the \<root>\windows\system32 directory and now the server keeps rebooting. Its also a Mail server, running Exchange 2003 so a rebuild/reinstall is out of the question.

Can any offer any advice/help - I'm at my wits end here.

cheers, paul.
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Question by:pbgormley
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by:KickR
ID: 12313906
Can you get to F8 boot menu? Have you tried last known good configuration?
Do you have any backup? Then maybe we can help you recover the system state!

Good Luck!!
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Expert Comment

by:nihlcat
ID: 12314063
There is always a chance your boot.ini got chewed up instead of ntoskrnl, so you can create a floppy and try to boot with it.  Couldn't hurt:
http://www.cybertechhelp.com/html/downloads/download.php/id/38
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Author Comment

by:pbgormley
ID: 12316728
Tried F8 and last known good configuration - still no joy, we have a backup on DAT72 using Veritas but at this stage we can't access the backup :(
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Expert Comment

by:nihlcat
ID: 12317385
Still the ntoskrnl thing?  Did you try to make a boot floppy from the link I sent and boot with it's boot.ini?  I've read (but not personally experienced) that a corrupted boot.ini file can toss your error.

Since you have no viable backup, this is your mail server, and are running low on options, I'll toss out an option of last resort:  Assuming you have enough disk space, what about installing a second instance of windows 2000 in a different directory, say in C:\winnt2?  This give you access to the file system, and you may be able to work a fix.
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Author Comment

by:pbgormley
ID: 12318899
Tried several approaches including expanding the original ntoskrnl.ex_ file (of the CD) to the \<root>\windows\system32 directory and now the server keeps rebooting.
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by:nihlcat
ID: 12319022
Darn it!  Well, my last recommendation (install a SEPERATE copy of Windows 2000) won't solve that on it's own, but it will give access to the old file system and you will then have the option of moving your information store, or trying other things to fix the original installation of Windows 2k.  I know how people are about their e-mail and I don't want you to lose it.
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Author Comment

by:pbgormley
ID: 12319204
cheers, quick note its Server 2003, my last resort is calling MS but why the h*** should i, after all it was Windows Update that caused the problem !! Then having to fork out loads for support - I fear the worst :(
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by:nihlcat
ID: 12319388
Whoops, I meant 2003.  The installing a second, minimal copy would work as far as I know to get the server to boot, because it would show 2 operating systems to choose from to boot up.  Obviously you would select the second one.  You may wish to try this in conjunction with calling them, as I am unsure how much they can do without any access to the sysem.
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by:KickR
ID: 12324138
You need to:
 "Assuming you have enough disk space, what about installing a second instance of windows 2000 in a different directory, say in C:\winnt2?  This give you access to the file system"
Then you need to install veritas on the new operating system and restore and overwrite over the old. Works like a charm.
Keep a copy of the following files on a floppy: boot.ini, ntdetect.com, ntldr and boot.ini. With these files you can boot into the operating system you need (you will have two), you just need to make an additional line in boot.ini

Hope this helps! Guys, post comments please.

Good luck!
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Author Comment

by:pbgormley
ID: 12345225
Got it sorted (thankfully) - Went through setup again (as if i where installing a fresh) and the 2nd level Repair option worked, basically it fixed the corrupt system files and i was able to get the Server back, unfortunately I'm now in a position where I have 27 updates required :/ - here we go again ;)

Would like to close out this question by asking advice on Windows Updates, anyone got any, .i.e, testing, best practice etc ?

cheers,

paul.
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nihlcat earned 500 total points
ID: 12346003
Outstanding!  I'm glad you're back up!.  Since it's obvious that one of those updates doesn't like your mail server, give attention to current backups prior to installing:

A full system backup (tape backup), and include the system state if your backup software allows for it.  If not you could alsways use Windows Backup and choose 'System State Only'

Create you ASR disk
http://www.computerperformance.co.uk/w2k3/disaster_recovery_system_state.htm

Ultimately, Windows SPs and Critical Updates are always a leap of faith.  They are supposed to install and work without any problems, but there's no guarantee that they will.  Don't apply them all simultaneously.  Try one at a time, so will know which update causes you troubles.
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Author Comment

by:pbgormley
ID: 12475899
nihlcat, thanks for everything mate - over the weekend i'm going to update the server and if things go well i may even install exchange service pack1 ;)
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