Windows 2000 Server Isass.exe - System Error

Posted on 2005-04-08
Last Modified: 2010-04-14
This latest critical problem may be a progression of my earlier problem of the system unexpected shutdowns that have been occuring that I have not received a solution for...

Now however we have a major problem ...

The system shutdown unexpectedly on 4/2/2005 when I was out of the office ... when I go back today I restarted the
server as usual (after the unexpected shutdowns) and it will not bot up properly ...

During the Network Connections start up phase the system errors the following:

Isass.exe - System Error
Security Accounts Manager initialization failed because of the following error: Directory Services can not start.
(It then says to hit okay and it will restart and it says to go to the restore directory services option in the F8 menu)

I have done this several times ... and it boots into safe mode ... however I don't see what to do next ...
1) I have tried to look at users and anything in the active directory and it says I must login with correct rights (which I have, but now the login is local)
2) I have looked at the setting under properties of My Computer and the Domain is not there anymore (and can not be changed)
3) I have gone into Computer Management and tried to connect to the domain and it does not see it anymore ...
4) I have tried to go into the "Setup Server" system that is used when first installing Windows 2000 ... it just hangs up
5) I have also tried the reboot to the last know good configuration ... no luck

Is there a way to restore so that the system works again ?

Question by:AEII
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    First of all, be sure to install the latest service pack ( ).

    Then make sure you don't have any virus: AVG free edition is my tool of choice ( ) , but also Panda On-Line ( ) is a good "one-shot" tool.

    Don't understimate spyware: in my ICT career, I saw many pcs stalled due to bad coded spyware running in background: IMNSHO there isn't any antispyware tool being better then others, I use to run them all (not simultaneously, of course!!)

    * Spybot S&D ( )

    * Ad-Aware ( )

    * Ms Antispyware ( )

    If everything is in place, let's start updating your driver (BE SURE TO FULLY REMOVE THE OLD DRIVERS BEFORE UPDATING!): video driver are the most important ones, and they are updated almost monthly.
    ATI ( ) and nVidia ( ) are the main manufacter, but pay attention: they often just provider chipsets! If you can, check you video card main site (Creative, Shapphire, Hercules...)

    Also update the mainboard driver (I strongly suggest to prefer manual update, don't use the auto-update feature of some vendor, like my MSI has).

    If this doesn't work, try to update the FIRMWARE of you main board: again, go for the manual update and pay extra-care!

    Also be sure to use a good Internet firewall : I strongly suggest Windows Firewall for XP/2003 (it's really very good, believe in me) and ZoneAlarm ( ) for Win 2000

    If this doesnt solve, try to boot up with the Win CD, and choose ASR when asked.

    In extreme situation, try an in-place installation

    Author Comment

    I appreciate your quick reply, but I am not sure what you are suggesting has anything to do with the problem at hand ?

    It appears that during the stratup phase for Windows 200 Server when it gets to networking connections it crashes out ...
     - I understand all the spyware and virus stuff ... and have ran all the programs to check for adware, spyware, and I use AVG ...

    But what does anything you mentioned have to do with the error I am getting and the system will not allow a login other
    than in safe mode ... it seems my active directory is gone and the server which is the Domain Controller for our Domain is not
    there anymore ?

    I am also unsure why driver updates and such will have anything to do with this ?
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    I ALWAYS suggest this first approch: I've about 8 yrs of ICT assitance, and I sawmany problem are due to missing updates (like SP) and malware.

    If you are SURE you don't have this problem ("The system shutdown unexpectedly on 4/2/2005 when I was out of the office" be sure this wans't due to an exploitation of some service, that allowed remote code execution + denial of service...) try ASR as suggested!

    Lemme know (tomorrow, I'm going to sleep right now ;) )

    Author Comment

    I guess first, I am a little confused in that it seems you are referring to XP ... I have Windows Server 2000 and this is the Server I am referring to ...

    Next, I rechecked everything virus, adware, spyware ... none ...

    I then used my installation CD and tried the system repair ... did basically nothing ...

    My problem is:

    During bootup ... it goes through all the right motions until "Preparing Network Connections" which is normally
    right before the login appears ... at this point the following popup error appears:

    Isass.exe - System Error
    Security Accounts Manager initialization failed because of the following error: Directory Services can not start.
    (It then says to hit okay and it will restart and it says to go to the restore directory services option in the F8 menu)

    What are you suppose to do once you login safe mode with the restore directory option ?

    LVL 5

    Expert Comment

    Sounds like a corrupt AD.

    Take a look at this:;en-us;240655

    Is this server a domain controller (my guess is yes), if so, do you have other dcs? Are they working ok?
    Do you have a system state backup not older than 60 days?
    What other applications/services are running on the server?


    LVL 5

    Expert Comment


    Author Comment

    I tried all the above except the last posted solution ... simply ran out of time ...

    Most of the solutions were simply shots in the dark ... I checked a great deal of posts on the similiar problems ...

    I had to replace my motherboard (with new memory), luckily it had the video and network ports built in so I didn't have to buy them too ...
    I also tried swapping my CD and 3.5 drive from another machine to make sure ... but still could not get Windows 2000 Server to install ...
    I even tried Windows 2000 Professional ... still would have the same I/O errors ...

    I then replaced the HD and still no luck ...

    Here is what I found out to fix it after all this (20 hours straight) ...

    The posted threads on this were numerous without a lot of solutions ... but here is what I think it is:

       1) I had three HDs and a CD ... using both primary and secondary channels ...
           - If the CD was on the slave channel with the booting HD ... the OS would not install properly
           - If the CD was moved to the secondary channel ... the OS would install fine ...

          Many of the problems I read about seemed to be a result of the IDE cable and the component set up (Master, Slave, CA).
          and location on the cable. I changed one cable and the other two drives began to work fine as well ...

    I am not sure if only the CD set to the other channel fixed the whole problem, but it allowed me to install the OS.
    When the system would not see the third HD on the secondary channel with the CD ... replacing the cable fixed this.

    Sorry no points, but I hope the replacement of the cable is considered in the future for the I/O errors that were listed ...



    Author Comment

    Please close this question ... it was the cable
    LVL 5

    Accepted Solution

    Closed, 500 points refunded.
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