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Windows 2000 Pro keeps rebooting by itself?

Posted on 2007-12-01
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Last Modified: 2012-06-21
I have a Windows 2000 Pro workstation in Windows 2003 domain. Originally it cannot boot into Windows and stops at the following error message.
Error Message: Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \winnt\system32\config\systemced
I searched the web and found the following article related to my problem.
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/269075
Because this is not the new install and it runs ok for a few years, so I assume the system hive is corrupted, then I follow the steps in the article to use the default system file. In detail the following commands are done:
Use Windows 2000 CD to boot up and go into Repair Console.
cd system 32\config
ren system system.old
ren system.alt systemalt.old
copy c:\winnt\repair\system c:\winnt\system32\config
then I remove the cd and reboot it from the hard disk.
Now here is the new problem: it can boot further then the previous stage but reboots itself before it shows the login screen.
I press F8 key to bring up the boot menu. I tried all options except two and they behave the same reboot symptoms. It can boot into the login screen if I choose the 'Safe Mode' and 'Safe Mode with command prompt'. It seems that it does not recognize the 'correct' passwords for domain user and local user. So I use Offline NT Password Registry Editor tool to reset my local admin password.
Now I am able to login to the admin account of the local system. But the system still behaves the same way: automatically reboots before it shows the login the screen. I do not know what is installed or changed. I can not reinstall the system because the application on the pc cannot be reinstalled.

Q#1. Any way to find out what is causing the system reboots by itself?
Q#2. How to troubleshoot this (auto reboot) problem?

Thanks a lot.

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Question by:richtree
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willcomp earned 300 total points
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A repair install of W2K may repair the system hive (it usually does). I highly recommend imaging the drive in case the repair install fails and produces an infinite setup loop. Repair install failures are not common, but they do occur and can be fatal.

A repair install of W2K is essentially the same as for XP.
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/helpandsupport/learnmore/tips/doug92.mspx
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by:richtree
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I boot into safe mode and do find out the video driver is not installed. I guess it is corrupted for some reason or 'erased' when I copied the default 'system' file over? I am trying to reinstall the video driver and see if it helps.
Thanks for your response.
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by:richtree
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What do you think cause the reboot problem?
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by:richtree
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I reinstall the video driver but the problem is same.

I notice another symptom: whenever I boot into safe mode (the only mode bootable so far), it reports that the system can not login because the user name/password is incorrect though I have not tried to login yet. This means the system is 'configured' to login (as a specific user) automatically either by admin setting or some kind of virus.
Q#3. How to check if my system is configured to login as a specific user automatically?
Q#4. Are you aware of any virus or malicious ware that try to login as a specific user or create endless reboot loop?
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by:SLFuqua
SLFuqua earned 200 total points
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It sounds like a corrupt hard drive. Do you know the manufacturer of the hard drive? Or do you have a manufacturer's diagnostics CD? If not, but you know the manufacturer, go to their website and see if you can download diagnostics to put on a thumbdrive or CD. Many manufacturer's diagnostics include sector repair tools, if the problem is recoverable, the sector repair tool will take care of it.

If it is a hard drive failure and you aren't able to repair it, the drive can be "slaved" to another machine and the data recovered from it. Reply if you need instructions for that.

Good luck,
sl
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by:richtree
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It's Dell Optiplex GX150. It has diagnostic tools which can only be available on diskettes which are scarce now.
Any other possibilities or ways to troubleshoot it?
Thanks for your ideas.
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by:richtree
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I go into the safe mode and check the system event log and found the following which all happen today after copied the default 'system' file.
The following boot-start or system-start drivers failed to laod:
 MRxSmb
NetBIOS
NetBT
RasAcd
Rdbss
Tcpip
Any idea on these message?

I also noticed a few system error message which happened a few days ago.
'The Bonjour Service service hung on starting'. I check the service list and could not find it there.
Does 'Bonjour Service' sound like a virus?
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by:SLFuqua
SLFuqua earned 200 total points
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That's a really old machine (in computer years). But according to Dell the diagnostics are here: http://support.dell.com/support/downloads/driverslist.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=gen&ServiceTag=&SystemID=PLX_PNT_P3C_GX150&os=WW1&osl=en&catid=&impid=.

Run the diagnostics on storage. The hard drive is likely to fail. If so, it will need to be replaced.

Good luck,
sl
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by:richtree
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Yes, I am running the diagnostic tools.
What tests do you suggest to run?
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by:richtree
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IDE confidence test and read test pass: only 1 error.
So it looks like the hard disk is ok.
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by:SLFuqua
SLFuqua earned 200 total points
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You can try repairing 2000. Boot to the 2K CD, choose "Install Windows 2000", it will scan the drive and find that there is already an installation, it will then ask if you want to install a fresh copy (which would break the application you need), or "Repair" the current installation. Choose "Repair".

It will reinstall the operating system files without breaking any installed applications.

If this doesn't work then the problem is probably hardware. Did you run ALL of the diagnostics, or did you choose "Custom" and just scan the hard drive?

sl
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by:willcomp
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@SLFuqua --> I recommended a repair install in the first response to this question. Please give credit when you repeat someone else's response.
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by:richtree
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Yes, I choose repair and it seems to fix the issue. At least I am able to login using the original user name and password. I will post more details after the 'repair'.
Thanks a lot for all your help.
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by:SLFuqua
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Willcomp I apologize. My intent was not to infringe.

Best,
sl
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by:willcomp
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You are absolved :)  richtree kept trying everything but what was recommended.



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by:richtree
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I was afraid of 'erasing' anything accidentally when reinstalling by 'repair'. That pc has an application that I cannot reinstall it. I am over-cautious.
Thanks a gain.
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by:SLFuqua
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Thanks willcomp.

Richtree, if you do the repair it will only replace the system files. Do you have a test box, or any 2k machine that is less important than this one? Run the repair on it for practice. And you can confirm for yourself that it won't affect installed programs.

Be sure to follow the directions though, willcomp's link in the first entry here is to Microsoft's published instructions (the W2K CD has the same installation/repair options as WinXP). Follow them and you'll be all set.

Good luck!
sl
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by:richtree
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Yes, I said in my previous post: I already tried the repair and it seems to fix the issue. I will do more checking later and update here.
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by:richtree
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Strange. I run into the same cycle again. But I remember that after I reinstall it by 'repair', I am able to boot into normal mode, able to ping the Internet. But when I try to open Internet Explorer, it crashes. Since I was in a rush to leave, so I did not pay much attention to it. when I come in this morning, I notice the pc goes into the same cycle again.
Q#5. Do you think any virus or security hole (especially related to IE) cause this strange problem? I will try to reinstall it by 'repair' again.
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by:richtree
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Thank you very much for your response, especially they came in during weekend. I appreciate it.
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by:richtree
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That pc was using IE5, some windows updates were not applied. I guess that might contribute the problem. I upgrade IE and Windows. It seems to be much better now. Thank you again.
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by:willcomp
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You're welcome. Glad to help.
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by:richtree
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Later on, I found out the power supply fan is dead, which causes reboot this time, not sure (but probably) it was the cause in the beginning.
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by:willcomp
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Dead PSU fan can cause hard reboots due to overheating, but it was not the cause of a corrupt System hive.
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