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How do I repair a Windows Server 2003 installation?

Posted on 2010-09-03
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
Our network has been installed by somebody else who has moved to another state. During a regular anti-virus update (Kaspersky Internet Security), it gave us a "Disk Full" message and the server began to act up and seem to have frozen. When we rebooted the system, we tried to run the Disk Cleanup and that's when we couldn't boot it up anymore. During the initial boot process, it would complete the BIOS routine but then reboot again. Going in to the BIOS set up, the system couldn't "see" the hard drive. I suspect a damaged boot sector. Our network consists of only 3 workstations. Should I do a repair installation? How do I do it?
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Question by:TBvbfm
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by:ChiefIT
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Well, let's see what we have to work with:

Do you have the original installation CD/DVD?
Do you have imaged backups?
What services does this server provide: Example: AD DNS DHCP Exchange...???
If an AD machine, do you have a second one to replicate with??
What valuable data do you need to retrieve that we can't replicate or can't recover with a fresh install?

so, right after BIOS it reboots, you say? This sounds like a problem with the Raid drivers since it is not seeing the hard drives in bios. Try the SCSI bios by pressing, (i believe) F10, to see if the drives are mounted. Also you can try recovery console to go in and review the boot.ini file. That file is found on the root of C:\ and in recovery console you should have limited DOS functions. So, you should be able to look at the file by typing Edit Boot.ini at the command prompt of recovery console. Or better yet, you should be able to run Fix master boot through recovery console.

How to:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314058
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by:TBvbfm
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Do you have the original installation CD/DVD? YES.
Do you have imaged backups? YES, I BELIEVE WE HAVE IT IN AN EXTERNAL DRIVE.
What services does this server provide? AD
If an AD machine, do you have a second one to replicate with? NO
What valuable data do you need to retrieve that we can't replicate or can't recover with a fresh install? WE HAVE ALL DATA WE NEED IN A BACKUP DISK. A FRESH INSTALL IS OKAY.

I'm going to try: (1)  the SCSI BIOS, (2) Recovery Console, (3) running the Fix Master Boot.

Thanks for the reply.
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by:markusdamenous
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If the server is running a RAID setup on the hard drives, then you would not see the hard drive listed in the BIOS.  What you might see in the system boot order, is RAID System Disk 1, or SCSI Virtual Device, something along these lines.

As it is attempting to boot windows, then it's unlikely that it is a corrupt boot sector.

I would try to boot into safe mode, pressing F8 repeatedly when turning the machine on.  Perhaps the HDD full issue is compounded by a service trying to start, and the box just reboots - safe mode might allow you to get further, then free up some space and try booting again in normal mode.
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by:TBvbfm
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Yes, the hard drive is not listed in the BIOS. It sees a "Virtual Disk" (I couldn't remember exactly as I'm out of the office at this time).

I going to try to boot into safe mode when I go back to work on Monday and try to free up some space.

Thank you for this advice.
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by:ChiefIT
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The system power on self test performs certain checks right after loading bios.. It checks RAM, and the drive configurations. If neither are seen or you have a problem with either, you will not be able to start the process of loading into Windows. instead it will reboot on you. The Disk full error you are seeing is usually a result that the Antivirus software is blocking critical communications. I have seen this before. However, the Anitivirus console shouldn't load up until the Kernel drivers and OS load up and start critical services. SOOOOO, you are right in between the point of the POST testing of bios, and Kernel drivers loading up. If either fail,,, It will reboot (as in your case)...

Booting into safe mode loads generic Microsoft drivers, try safe mode with Network support. That loads a generic Network driver made by MS. If it boots, that means you have a problem with your third-party nic drivers or TCPIP.sys kernel driver. Also try safe mode with VGA support. Simularly if that boots into safe mode you have a problem with your third party VGA drivers.

Try fix master boot, to make sure after BIOS, the machine knows where to go to find the kernel drivers and OS. BUTT, usually if the master boot doesn't know where to go, you will see a command prompt error saying something like NTOSkernel can't be found, or NTsys.dll can't be found..

Also, log into system bios and tell it to perform a RAM test, you could have all of a sudden come up with a bad RAM stick, or added RAM and unintentionally brought down the machine. Furthermore, IN BIOS, there is an option to prevent system reboot on error. If disabled that will give you a blue screen of death (BSOD). Blue screen data can be VERY helpful in pinpointing the problem. Copy the BSOD data to the letter and post it here..

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by:markusdamenous
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ChiefIT, the prevent reboot on system error is a Windows function.  It will be available on the menu when pressing F8 that I mentioned above.
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by:ChiefIT
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Usually BIOS has that option as well. It's to control errors upon BIOS, not the errors within Windows. So, if the drives or RAM has a problem, this reboot on error will take over. Windows has no control over those errors.
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by:TBvbfm
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I'm current running some hardware tests on the server just to make sure that memory, harddrive, motherboard, etc. are working fine. It's taking some time to finish the tests. I'm getting ready to leave the office and be back tomorrow to try the solutions above.

Thank you again!
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by:TBvbfm
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I went into the Safemode menue but I couldn't boot either. After running the hardware tests, everything seems to be fine. I disabled the system reboot on error and it gave me the blue screen of death (BSOD). Here's the message:

A problem has been detected and windows has been shut down to prevent damage to your computer.

UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME

If this is the first time you've seen this stop error screen, restart your computer. If this screen appears again, follow these steps:

Check to make sure any new hardware or software is properly installed. If this is a new installation, ask your hardware or software manufacturer for any Windows updates you might need.

If problem continues, disable or remove any newly installed hardware or software. Disable BIOS memory options such as caching or shadowing. If you need Safe Mode to remove or disable component, restart your computer, press F8 to select Advanced Startup Options, and then select Safe Mode

Technical information:

*** STOP: 0x000000ED (0x81D56D48, 0xC000007F, 0x00000000, 0x00000000)
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by:TBvbfm
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I tried going into the Recovery Console using the installation disk. Here's the message:

Setup did not find any hard disk drives installed in your computer.

Make sure any hard disk drives are powered on and properly connected to your computer, and that any disk-related hardware configuration is correct. This may involve running a manufacturer-supplied diagnostic or setup program.

Setup cannot continue. To quit Setup, press F3
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by:ChiefIT
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Tell me about your driveconfiguration.

In some cases, a ribbon cable can be turned backwards and the drive will not be seen on IDE drives. In some cases IDE ribbon cables go bad. In some cases, master and slave jumpers on IDE drives have ben set backwards and the system may/may not work for a while and then you see your error.

BIOS should see the drives, regardless of the software loaded on the drives. So, it's a cabling issue or a power issue to the drives.
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by:TBvbfm
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I found a Dell OpenManage Server Assistant disk that came with the server and I'm now running it. It has configured the RAID and is now installing the Server 2003 OS. I'll post the result when the installation is done. I'm hoping that this would resolve the problem.

Thanks.
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by:ChiefIT
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I would think that BIOS should still be able to see the hard drives. If not seen in BIOS, I don't know if raid drivers are the answer. I hope so.
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TBvbfm earned 0 total points
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Successfully reinstalled the Server 2003 OS. The POST shows the virtual drive RAID 1.

Problem resolved! Thanks.

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by:ChiefIT
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Excellent!!! glad to hear it fixed.
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