STOP: c000021a {Fatal System Error} on start up - Windows 2000 Professional

All -

First here are the specifics:

Computer - Dell System Optiplex GX1 600M+ Setup BIOS Version A07.  Operating sytem is Windows 2000 Professional.  Computer is shared with myself and two other roomates.  For 2 years computer has worked fine everyday.  Last week, I turned the computer on and got an immediate shutdown after the computer had tried to start up.  After going through the startup and getting ready to finish, I then got a blue screen with this error:

STOP: C000021a {Fatal System Error}
The session manager initialization system process terminated unexpectedly with a status of 0xc000026c (0x0000 0x0000)
The system has been shut down.

Computer would then immediately try to startup again and just go through the cycle repeatedly.

Do not know what my roomates downloaded (or attempted to download) to cause this.  I also do not know what they did to try and fix it b/c it now, when starting the computer, it boots up and stops on the screen that asks for the install CD for Windows.  It no longer cycles through the crashes.

From reading a few of the different posts on here (that relate to a similar type of error), I have tried to follow some basics steps.  I have tried to start the computer in safe mode (does not work) and I have also tried to start the computer using the "last known good configuration" and that does not work either.  From reading the threads, it seems like the next step I need to do is re-sintall Windows 2000 and choose the repair option instead of the full install.

All that being said, here is my question: I have a few files on the computer that I would like to not lose - just 3 or 4 different Excel spreadsheets that I have saved in my folder.  Unfortunately, I never backed these up on a disk.  I am concerned that by re-installing Windows 2000, I am going to run the risk of losing these files.  Is this the case?  If not, just let me know and I will re-install Windows 2000 from the CD.

If there is a risk of losing these few spreadsheets, is there anyway I can back these spreadsheets up on a disk even though I cannot get the computer to fully boot up?  Perhaps I can get into DOS mode with the C prompt and find the files and copy them over?  If this is possible, someone would need to walk me through how to do this as I am only somewhat computer literate.  Also, if there is any other way to solve this issue other than re-installing Windows 2000, please let me know.  Final question, any thoughts on what might have been downloaded that caused this?

Now that I have asked 100 questions on a Sunday afternoon of a holiday weekend, I will stop and just say thank you for listening to my babble.  Please let me know if you need any other info.

Thank You

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Hi DannyNoonan,

If you do a repair install, you  will not lose data.  But it is always better to backup data first.  If you format the hard drive, then you will lose the data.  Here is a step by step to repair install

DannyNoonanAuthor Commented:
war1 -

Thank you for your response.

I checked out the link that you sent, and the instructions seem to be very straight-forward.  After reading through the steps, I have a question.

When I start up my computer now, I am immediately taken to Part 2 screen 5 (the windows 2000 set-up wizard).  This happens when I have the windows 2000 CD in the CD-ROM as I start the computer.

On the link you provided, it seems like the person who created the example was able to choose the "Repair" version of the install before getting to that windows 2000 set-up wizard screen.  What do I need to do to make sure I am running only the repair version of the install?

Thank you
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DannyNoonanAuthor Commented:
war1 -

Got it.  I'll try again and let you know what happens.

Thank you

Yeah, those prompts are . . . . tricky.  You are 1st give the option of repair windows or reinstalling windows.  At this first prompt, what they are actually asking you is "do you want the install options or the repair console?".

The repair console is like DOS, but with slightly different commands and some serious restrictions; for what you need it will not be useful.  Choose "Install windows."  (Just trust me . . . hee hee).

Following your choice to INSTALL WINDOWS, the setup will scan your hard drive, see that you have an EXISTING version of windows, and ask if you would like to repair that one, or start fresh.  This is where you want to choose repair.  Tricky, and it made me nervous as heck the first few times because, like you, I had data that I did not want to loose.

If all else fails, the data can be recovered, even if you format, but it is pretty tricky and you need some special software.  However, with the "repair reinstall" of Windows, you will have all of your stuff there when it finishes.  Occassionally, it hoses a program (like a Game or a MS Office component) and you have to reinstall the program to fix it, but normally, everything is as it should be and your data is safe.

Good luck.
paraghsDy General ManagerCommented:
To me, it seems that your roommate tried to reinstall Windows, and left it midway. So, now the process starts from where it was left.
If this is the case, then reinstallation of Windows creates new directories at root (C:) and copies Windows files to it. Deleting these directories MAY help. However, the process is very intensive, and will require good knowledge.
Since you are only interested in recovering few files, here is the way to go :

If you have your files on FAT partition, then booting from a boot floppy will give you access to them. Copy the files to floppy, and FORMAT AND REINSTALL WINDOWS. Repair installation may, or may not, help; so best solution, IMHO, is to backup data, and format-install.

If the partition in question is NTFS, then you will need NTFS for DOS ( on the floppy.

Another option is to get Knoppix CD ( Booting to Knoppix, you can read (and copy) files on any partition (FAT/NTFS).
Zaheer IqbalTechnical Assurance & ImplementationCommented:
I would try booting with windows 2000 cd go into recovery console and issue a disk check.
chkdsk /r.
This could also point to a Hardware problem.
DannyNoonanAuthor Commented:
All -

Thank you for the replies.

I used the link that war1 sent me and followed along, everything went perfectly.  Unfortunately, we are using a version of windows that I was given a few jobs ago (so I could work from home on the shared computer) and we no longer have the Prodcut Key.  So, I assume the repair install fixed the issue, but I don't think we will ever be able to tell because I don't know how we will get past not having the 25 character Product Key.

Given this new piece of information.......1) Anyway to get past this point in the re-install?  or can I do something different that will still repair the problem, but where I will not have to put in the Product Key code?  2) Assuming there is not, and that the only way run Windows on this computer would be to do a fresh install from a new Windows install CD (and would therefore, I am assuming, re-format the hard drive and I would lose my few files that I wanted to save) can I retrieve the files I would like to save?

Thank You



If you do not have the product key, then you need to get a new Windows CD.  You can still do the repair install with the new CD.  Again, just do not reformat.

To back up the data, you need to stop the auto rebooting

Go to start > run > Services.msc.
Right click Remote Procedure Call.
Select Properties > Recovery.
On all three drop-down boxes in this window, select "Take no action."

Then back up the needed data.

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You can do 1 of 2 things:
     1.) Contact microsoft and read them a code off your "authentic" micrsoft CD and they will give you a new key
     2.) Buy a new copy which will come with a key

I do not recommend searching the web for "Windows 98 SE KEY" as that is not legitamate or legal, even if it does work fine as Microsoft does not check the 98 keys (if they even care anymore).
paraghsDy General ManagerCommented:
You will need the key to reinstall Windows, there is no bypass. There are tools that can read the key from the registry, but for that, your Windows must be running :(

>> can I retrieve the files I would like to save?

I think I suggested a couple of methods in my last post.
Pop the hard drive into another machine and copy the files you want first, the excel spreadsheets, etc..

I'm surprised no one mentioned this.

By the way, I'd put a sign on that machine "Graduates Only!"

You can try to follow the following article(This although is for winnt but it shld work on windows 2000 as the very much smilar);EN-US;317189

The way to do a parellel install in the following link

"Issue is not related to any Hardware issue."

Looks like ur friends changed the drive letter of the hard drive

And trust that link.......

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