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Internal Setup error during XP Repair Install

Posted on 2009-07-03
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Last Modified: 2013-11-22
This is for a customer, I fix PCs for a living.

PC is an HP Slimline 7250n running XP Media Center SP2 (Desktop PC).

After extensive malware removal, PC works fine in Safe mode but in normal mode at boot get an error about Explorer.exe has encountered an error and has to close and then things go bad. I then Expanded Explorer.exe from the i386 folder to the Windows folder and this did NOT fix the problem.

THE ABOVE IS BACKGROUND ONLY; I DOUBT THIS POST HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH MALWARE.

I then tried a Windows repair install from a generic Windows Media Center SP2 CD. However the CD drive was broke so I replaced it with a 2003 internal CD drive I CARRY AROUND FOR EXACTLY THIS USE. After the copy phase, I get the following error "Setup can not set the required Windows XP configuration information. This indicates an internal setup error. Contact your system administrator. Press F3 to continue"

Before continuing read the following two links

What MS says about this error
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;316425&Product=winxp

What HP says about this error for a wide range of HP laptops
http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/TechSupport/Document.jsp?objectID=c00603573&lang=en&cc=us&taskId=101&prodSeriesId=432999&prodTypeId=321957

Note; The HP article is dated 2006, the same time period, a XP Media Center SP2 PC probably came out as Media Center was introduced in 2005. Also I doubt the problem exists just for HP laptops.

Also the HP article essentially says the MS KB article is wrong, there is no problem, just continue.

Regarding the MS KB article (incompatible HW or update the BIOS)

I did change the CD drive but SO WHAT ??? ALL 2003 CD DRIVES ARE COMPAITBLE WITH WINDOWS XP SP2 AREN'T THEY ?

Also I have used this EXACT CD drive with at least 5 previous XP SP2 Repair Installs with no problems. My XP Media Center SP2 CD has also been used at least 5 times on Repair installs.

Furthermore before the Repair install I checked Device Manager and there were no yellow marks, ie all devices worked and were hence compaitble with the OS. Also  the only external attached devices are a PS 2 mouse and keyboard. There was no printer.

Also if the new CD drive was not compatible with the BIOS, then the XP Repair Install could not have copied thousands of files from the CD to the HD, right ?

My inclination is to follow the HP article advice and ignore the error message and jsut continue. If that fails replace the 2003 CD drive with a new 2009 Sony internal DVD burner (but I do not know why that would matter).

NOW IT IS YOUR TURN, WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST?

If any malware expert replies here, you must HAVE SEEN MALWARE CAUSE THIS EXACT ERROR MESSAGE DURING A REPAIR INSTALL.

Regards-Mike

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Question by:mgross333
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Expert Comment

by:jdcomp
ID: 24775972
Are you sure the PC has SP2  and not SP3, You will not be able to do reinstall repair if the PC has SP3 and your CD sp2.

Also what malware software did you use???
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by:noxcho
ID: 24776598
I guess not all 2003 are compatible with XP. There are XP versions you cannot upgrade (OEM, VAR) so this could be the issue. HP in the article you gave does not explain clearly where the cause of the problem comes. Thus I am suspecting that simple license conflict could be the problem.
Follow their advice by hitting F3 key. This problem is definitely known to HP and they knowingly do not explain why does it happen.
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Author Comment

by:mgross333
ID: 24776629
jdcomp,

I am sure the PC has SP2 because I looked at Control Panel> System Properties before I started the Repair Install.

NOTE: REGARDING MALWARE, THE PC WIL NO LONGER BOOT NORMALLY TO SAFE MODE OR NORMAL MODE SO ONE WAY OR ANOTHER WE MUST GET SOME SORT OF WINDOWS CD INSTALL (REPAIR, PARALLEL (leaves customer data, deletes programs) or REFORMAT to work
OR
Use the HP Recovery partition (D:) which hopefully is untouched AS HP Recovery usually leaves all the user data untouched and deletes the programs  (F10 or F11 at boot) but it can be hard to tell before starting it if it has a LEAVE ALL DATA INTACT AND IN PLACE option; I have once seen it not offer that option AND OBVIOUSLY THAT MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE HERE.

A repair install (usually works if the PC boots and works fine in Safe Mode) leaves EVERYTHING AS BEFORE THE PROBLEM EVER OCCURED,

For Malware removal I used Combo Fix (CF) . My partner who is a malware expert (and communicates with me over the internet) then examined the CF and HJT logs and gave me two CFScript.txt files (removes specified files, foilders, registry entries and drivers) and also reruns ComboFix.

This improved Safe Mode operation from NO internet to perfect internet browsing and everything else fine too. It also improved Normal mode to almost perfect ONCE ONLY despite getting the explorer error at boot but at the next boot explorer error could not be got around (although internet worked BUT very haltingly) and that remained at following boots.

The PC had NO AntiVirus protection of any kind (except that MalwareBytes had been run several months ago) and a week ago Norton Internet Security was installed online (months after the malware problems began). The 12 year old son had been running Limewire and similar PtoP apps to get free music (and probably some virus's/spyware) over the internet.

CF logs showed traces of rootkits (which were removed) but CF did not initially reboot like it does when it finds ACTIVE rootkits.

Explorer.exe was copied from the ......system32\dllcache folder (to NO effect). Then in the Recovery Console (booting from same XP CD) in the Windows\i386 folder
EXPAND EXPLORER.EX_ C:\WINDOWS was run and we rebooted again to NO effect.

So that implied the problem was a more general OS problem, not fixed by replacing JUST the Explorer.exe file so I tried a Repair Install.

The Explorer error at normal mode boot was Explorer.exe was closed due to some memory access error followed by Runtime Error 216 in a little box.

Mike
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Assisted Solution

by:BitsBytesandMore
BitsBytesandMore earned 200 total points
ID: 24776692
Hello Mike,
I also repair Pc's and install and maintain networks for a living and have been doing this since 1983&.wow..didnt realize&26 years now&
Well, the point is&.you would be doing your customer a disservice if you try a repair install. There is nothing better for a pc that has been in contact with LimeWire and no AntiVirus than a CLEAN install.
I usually carry with me on a USB Flash drive a copy of Belarc and I run it and save the results to preserve the serial numbers of the installed programs. Also it saves me the trouble of trying to figure out one by one which driver I need when I go to the manufacturers web site and I find that there are several drivers for the same device I am trying to install.
I also carry with me just like you do, a CD Drive and also an external USB Network adapter. This way I can connect immediately to the net and download the rest of the drivers since most of the time when doing a clean install of XP Home, Pro or Media Center they do not detect the internal network adapter.

For me its all about customer satisfaction vs time (I charge by the hour).  The best choice for the customer is to have his computer running like if he had just bought it (both performance and financial wise).

It does not pay for you or the customer to have you sitting there hours and hours troubleshooting and trying to find out what registry damage the malware did exactly. This is not what the customer wants or needs. He really doesn't care for a diagnostic. It can be extensive and very time consuming. Some of these malwares reside on the boot sector of the hard drive itself and can give you the kind of grief you are describing in your post.

I would recommend that you format the hard drive booting from a DOS floppy disk if the pc has a floppy drive or otherwise from a DOS CD (you can get these at bootdisk.com. Run FDisk, recreate the partitions and format from DOS. Once this is done you should have no problems installing a fresh copy of XP Media Center.
Hope this helps.
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Author Comment

by:mgross333
ID: 24776961
BitsBytesandMore:,

ONE POINT OF INTEREST FIRST:

I have a to-do to get and learn about Belarc and am interested in how " preserve the serial numbers of the installed programs" allows me to reinstall them IF THE CUSTOMER HAS LOST THE INSTALL CDs??
Or if the customer installed online AND HAS DELETED THE CONFIRM EMAIL WITH THE ORDER NUMBER how having the serial numbers will alllow reinstall.

Also do you mean "product key" when you said "serial number"

REGARDING THIS SITUATION;

I do not agree with you. My partner and I remove any malware no matter what the history in virtually all cases. THE SITUATION HERE WHERE I HAVE TO TRY A REPAIR or PARALLEL INSTALL IS VERY RARE, about once every 2 months. Regarding time, I agree sometimes it takes 3 to even 6 hours total BUT I charge a HIGH maximum price (if repair exceeds 3 hours) and have no family obligations so I can work morning, noon and nite 7 days without exception. ie. working long hours does not bother me nor my customer because they have agreed to my high max price or I do not start the job. My partner works from her home and for whatever reason is prepared to also spend hours BUT ON AND OFF ONLY WHEN I POST LOGS.

Now, I also do not agree that a SUCCESSFUL repair install will not likely fix this (nor that malware is in any way causing the setup error that this post is about). I agree that it might NOT fix it but it takes 45 minutes and leaves all files and programs intact WHICH IS HUGE ADVANTAGE OBVIOUSLY. I also run CF again after the Repair install too.

If the Repair install succeeds and does not fix the remaining Normal mode boot problems then A MUCH BETTER SOLUTION IN THIS CASE than your suggestion is using the HP recovery partion (see my paragraph on it above) because it is in every way better than a Clean install in this case. Now if it were not a HP PC, the situation would be different for sure.

I also want to note that CF would have rebooted if there were active rootkits and it did not do that.

BUT DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS. It is obvious that you have oriented yourself toward clean installs because YOU HAVE COLLECTED A SET OF TOOLS (including Belarc) AND PROCEDURES that make this easier than for others.

In this regard I want to note that I often use a partiition (called parallel elsewhere) install that essentially deletes ONLY the Windows folder including the Registry (so all programs do not work aftewards) but leaves all the user data still there. I then IMMEDIATELY run CF.

I HAVE NEVER SEEN A MALWARE SITUATION NOT SOLVED BY THIS, NOT EVEN ONCE. However it is very very time consuming especially if there are multiple log in accounts and non-standard apps like Quickbooks or whatever to reinstall. BUT THE END RESULT IS CERTAIN. NOTE: I usually do this if the PC starts to boot but does not finish (i.e NON-MALWARE PROBLEM) and only rarely ( once in 3 months) for a malware situation.

PLEASE REPLY ON BELARC, WHAT IT DOES THAT IS USEFUL IN CLEAR INSTALLS AND PARALLEL INSTALLS AS THE LATTER ALSO LEAVES THE PROGRAMS NOT WORKING.

Mike
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Assisted Solution

by:BitsBytesandMore
BitsBytesandMore earned 200 total points
ID: 24777279
Mike.....Belarc is just a system information tool.....It gathers all the data and presents it to you in an html format so you can save it for instan or later review. There is no learning curve here....it does not do anything else......
On the other hand, a CLEAN INSTALL corrects many problems left over by malware that the customer or even you might have not noticed yet. Some malware replaces authentic files.....and when you run an antivirus or antispyware it will hopefully be detected and removed but the malware removers WILL NOT replace the missing files....they're gone.

In other words, even if you manage to repair the OS successfully, some applications will start giving random errors and to make sure you would have to either spend hours and hours reviewing every log out there for every application that decides to malfunction or you will need to completely remove and reinstall the applications anywhere.

You are going to the customers' place to fix his computer.....it's up to him to have his software. You can only help up to a certain limit without getting into "Legal" problems.....

Hope this helps....
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Author Comment

by:mgross333
ID: 24777460
COLUD EE EXPERTS PLEASE REPLY ON THE SETUP ERROR QUESTION AS ORIGINALLY POSED BY ME. HEY A CLEAN INSTALL FIXES ALL SW PROBLEMS. THAT IS NOT THE SOLUTION I ASKED FOR HERE.

BitsBytesandMore:

Thanks for your reply on Belarc.

However, regarding

"some applications will start giving random errors "

Unlikley since I test every significant app (by having the customer run them) before I leave. Also my partner is very thorough in finding any remaining problems EVEN IF THE SYMPTOMS THE CUSTOMER CALLED ME TO FIX ARE GONE,.

And sometimes we also review GMER logs too (for rootkits) and other logs .

BOTTOM LINE, NO ONE EVER CALLS ME BACK AFTER I LEAVE WITH ANY PROBLEMS (Well almost never, of course, but those calls are wicked few. It is very expensive for me to have to return onsite (because almost all my work is onsite) as the driving time (sometimes 2 hours RT) is a waste of my valuable business time.

If my approach did not work, I would not use it.

As I said, DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS.

Mike
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Expert Comment

by:jdcomp
ID: 24777674
Here is an idea if you would like to try it.

Take your MCE XP SP2 CD and slypstream SP3 with nlite

http://www.nliteos.com/download.html

and try to do the install repair, you could also try downloading a HP MCE XP CD isofrom a torrent using any torrent client like vuze or Ares
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 24777685
What about following HP recommendation of press F3 and rebooting machine while making repair install?
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Author Comment

by:mgross333
ID: 24779744
noxcho,

When I got onsite, I essentially did that (as I had pressed F3 and then shut the PC down before I left AND THEN brought it up when I got there). And then quickly got the "kiss of death" in these kind of situations. It began from time to time asking for files not dound in the i386 folder on the CD so I pointed it toward the C:\Windows\i386 folder on the PC and it found the file there twice (which destorys the point of the Repair install unless that file is one of hundreds that are not really used in actual practice OR is the same as the one on the CD). It then quickly gave me a TERMINAL ERROR and "Setup can not continue" error.  (Note: In retrospect I should have tried looking for the folder on the second CD as Windows MCE is TWO CD's, not one (or one DVD but I had the CD version).

jdcorp,

Did you not read my answer to your earlier post above (1st reply to this thread)? Where I said
"
I am sure the PC has SP2 because I looked at Control Panel> System Properties before I started the Repair Install."

Hence your advice to create a SP3 version WILL NOT SOLVE MY PROBLEM HERE..  

Also because there are TWO CD's in the set, I am wondering whether we have to slipstream both or just the first AND AS A SEPARATE QUESTION (off-Question, I ackinowledge that) do you know the answer, jdcorp, as many PCs (not this one) DO HAVE SP3 installed and I need a XP MCE XP3 CD set to do Repair installs with.

Regards,
  Mike
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Accepted Solution

by:
mgross333 earned 0 total points
ID: 24779783
The solution after  I rebooted and continued the Repair install FAILED (see above although I SHOULD have tried the 2nd CD to find the requested files, I grant you that), I THEN IMPLEMENTED the rest of my CLEARLY STATED PLAN in my posts: DO A RECOVERY FROM THE HP RECOVERY PARTION (Press F10 at the Sony Screen during boot) becasue as I noted above "HP Recovery usually leaves all the user data untouched and deletes the programs" . It also reinstalls ALL the drivers (unlike Clean or Parallel installs from genric Windows CDs).

THIS WORKED AND THAT IS THE SOLUTION FOR THIS CASE. All the user files were in a separate Docs and Settings folder (different from the current log in account one) so I had to copy them over but little matter. Then I had to reinstall Norton Internet Security 2009  and MS Office (after first carefully deleting all the related folders in both the Program Files and Program Files\Common Files folder as those folders are STILL there but the uderlying registry entries are GONE.)  And a few other similar things.

I will now assign 300 points to THIS SOLUTION and 200 points to BitsBytesandMore's solution (CLEAN INSTALL) as his idea is somewhat related to my Solution.

Mike
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Expert Comment

by:jdcomp
ID: 24780349
Just for your reference there is a version of XP MCE that comes on a DVD disc so there is no need to use 2 disc, I know this because I have it my self.

Any way even of you have the two CD's you would only have to slystream CD1 since cd2 has the suplemental files for the MCE. But that will be part of another subject.

Good to know you were able to solve the problem
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