Unable to start operating system - NTOSKRNL missing


I'm experiencing a little bit complicated issue with Windows Server 2003.
It has 2 drives configured in RAID 1 (Mirror).
After sudden power outage it started to display the message "ntoskrnl.exe is missing". I tried to boot to recovery console, which works, but doesn't allow me to modify anything on the system drive. I'm getting "access denied".

It think it might be because it doesn't seem I'm really logged on as Administrator. It didn't prompt for password even when there is password protected admin account.

When trying to display the list of OSes, it doesn't find any functional instance of Windows (so that's I think it doesn't want the password - nowhere to logon to).

Any ideas how to bring this system back online? The customer doesn't have any backup, even no system state.

Thanks a lot
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halejr1Connect With a Mentor Commented:
Martin -  

Sounds like one of two things -- first make sure no CD or floppy is in either of those drives.  If there is one, please remove it and reboot ... see what happens.

If something went awry with yout mirror you may have a boot.ini issue.  I don't know how the mirror is setup, if it's hardware array or software array, but you may also be able to boot by swapping the locations of the two drivers.  The normal process would be to edit the boot.ini file, with proper instructions found here:  http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;323427

I'll see if I can find any additional references to this, and post them out here.

But at least try the first couple of items.

DarylxConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Does the customer have another system with a similar disk configuration?  If so, you could try making a boot floppy.  Is it a hardware RAID or software RAID?  
jhyieslaConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I know that this works with XP and I think it will with 2003 as well.  Boot the server from the 2003 disk and go through the wizard like you're going to install the OS again.  After accepting the license agreement with F8 you'll get to a point where you would do the install.  At this point you should also have an option to do a repair; choose that.  If you don't have the option then just F3 out of the wizard.  If you do have the repair option it will remove all of the Windows system files and replace them and in essence take you back to your original setup, but will leave all data and apps in place. You'll then have to patch the OS back to it's latest version.

If you don't have that option, you can always choose to install a second copy of the OS on the disk (if you have space) and this will at least give you access to the data and from that point you can choose to leave it that way or pull the data off and completely wipe the server and start over fresh.

And once you've got it fixed... have your customer do a backup :)
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Raj-GTConnect With a Mentor Systems EngineerCommented:
I fixed a similar issues (missing NTDLR) after a power outage just this weekend. All I did was connect the master disk from the raid array to a different machine and copy the missing file from the installation CD and it worked like a charm.
JHYIESLA makes a good suggestion---
if the "simple" steps don't work, you can always do a repair. Keep in mind that when you first boot to windows 2003 cd, it will ask you initially if you want to repair with a "R=Repair" on the bottom of the screen (see xp welcome).  Don't select the R -- just press enter on this screen to continue.
then you'll get your accept license screen (see xpf8)
and finally your detected operating system screen (see XPPressR)
If you need the key for your os, you may want to see the following link:

unfortunately you'll need to somehow boot this system up to get the key...
You could try something like the Ultimate Boot CD for windows http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/
Good luck.

martin_babarikAuthor Commented:
Hello everyone,

thank you - I appreciate all of your replies.
I'd like to explain something regarding your sugestions:

1. It's HW RAID array - I thought the same - it's mirror, which is supposed to be fault tolerant, isn't it? Maybe, but not in this case. The array is consistent and it seems, that the power outage somehow corrupted ntoskrnl.exe and this error has been replicated to both disks in the array - bad luck:-( So changing the boot priority of the drives is unfortunatelly not the way to go.

2. JHYIESLA - this was the first thing I tried to do. But it seems, that if I run recovery console from the installation CD, I'm logged on "nowhere"...seems like anonymous user existing in some temporary system, with no access to the OS on the hard disk. I guess it would work if I run the Recovery Console available as the option in the boot menu - it's supposed to prompt for password and log me to the Windows installation. But this built-in Recovery console doesn't start when I select it. Bad luck again...
I realize you suggested to repair the system and I'm talking about Recoery Console, which is something different. But I don't have the option to repair available I think. I know where to find it, but it's not there. Anyway I try it one more time tomorow. The problem here is that the customer doesn't have even the installation CD, they have just some recovery-auto-repair-oem-whatever, which is very limited and designed just to perform the OS installation.

3. To install second instance of Windows - I'd love to, but they will not allow me to do that :-) "No space available" is what I've been told. Tough job:-)

4. Backups - yes, they have some, but don't know where, what data was backed up and how to restore it. Pretty cool:-)

5. To put the drives to another machine and access them from another OS - great idea too. The customer has something about 20 servers, but all of them use different hard disks and the local admins are not allowed to open the chasis and change anything...what to say.

As you can see, it's pretty bad situation and they should REALLY think about disaster recovery strategy. My last hope is to boot from Hirens or Ultimate boot, somehow push ntoskrnl onto that drive and hope it will start up. But - ehm - the customer has downstram internet connection 1mbps shared by some hundred users, so I didn't have nerves to wait 15 minutes just to display any web page - not talking about download of 500mb ISO or something like that.

I will post the result tomorrow or the day after and split the points as well.
Thank you very much - all of you.

Just to clarify -- we are not suggesting to install another copy of windows... if you follow my instructions on the screens above, you go through a typical install scenario and when you get to the 3rd screen, it has a repair option on the bottom of the screen.  See screen shots above.  

All this does is refresh windows original installation where your only drawback is that you'll have to run windows updates to get it up to snuff.  

Martin as I suggested -- if you download the Ultimate boot CD and create a bootable CD, you can boot to that server and perhaps restore just those files.  Give it a try, there is no risk, etc.  The biggest challenge will be booting and being able to see the drives.

Also did you check your floppy or CD tray?

martin_babarikAuthor Commented:
Yes I understand the difference, I tried to explain I don't have the "repair" option available, as it's a customized installation CD from the server manfufacturer
But of course I'll doublecheck tomorrow.

All FDD and optical drives were checked, no mystery in this (wish this would be the problem:-)
I'll try the ultimate CD but I'm affraid it's not gonna see the mirrored volume - will see...
Thanks a lot
martin_babarikAuthor Commented:
Thank you everyone for your help.
The problem showed to be something more complicated, but if it was the way I described, I know your suggestions would lead me to the correct solution.

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