updated windows xp to sp3 now having lots of problems...

Posted on 2011-05-04
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-11
Just updated my neighbors PC (Gateway 310S with 512 RAM) from Windows XP to XP-SP3.  Before update there was an "Owner" account.  It no longer shows on the "choose user" screen but it must still be there because if I try to create it - it says it "already exists". Anyone know a way to access it?
I was able to get into the Administrator account by pressing Crtl Alt Delete 2x and now when I click on the "My Documents" folder it says "Your current security settings do not allow this action".  What is going on?!  I wish I had never agreed to update XP!!!  Can anyone help?  Should I reformat the hard drive and start all over from scratch?  Man, I hope there is any easier fix.  Thanks
Question by:Pittsford
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LVL 30

Expert Comment

by:Dr. Klahn
ID: 35695464
Are you dealing with XP Professional or XP Home?  The management methods for the two are somewhat different.

Author Comment

ID: 35695623
XP home

Author Comment

ID: 35695723
Well - the computer just downloaded and ran a bunch of windows updates.  Now when it rebooted I get a bunch of multi(0)disk errors that go flying past and then a blue screen with a Windows XP logo in the upper right corner and this message:  Microsoft (R) Windows (R) Version 5.1 (Build 2600: Service Pack 3) 1 System Processor [503 MB Memory]  

That stays on the screen for 30 seconds or so and then goes into Windows and shows the desktop and appears to be working OK.  I no longer have the "Your current security settings do not allow this action" error when I try to open the "My Documents" folder though so something in the 23 updates it did must have fixed that.  

This time when I went to restart - it says it is installing 14 MORE updates!  What is happening???  I'm leaning toward a reformat because UNFORTUNATELY - this old (June 2003) machine doesn't have a recovery partition or CD - just the "Operating System" CD - Windows XP (no service packs) and a "Drivers" and an "Applications" CD.  If I have to reformat and reload Windows again, I can, but should I go through the whole upgrade to Service Pack 3 again?  

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LVL 93

Expert Comment

ID: 35696057
you can integrate SP3 and your drivers into the install cd  :

however - before doing that - i suggest to run ram and disk diags, to be sure about your basics
to do this, download ubcd : http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/      
boot from it - and run memtest86+ for Ram, and the diag for your disk brand - LONG test

i also recommend upgrading the ram to at least 1 GB - the pc will be very slow with 512Mb
LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 35696825
Some viruses and malware change the permission or make some things system hidden that aren't supposed to be, perhaps have or had those since removed but consequences remain.

What steps and assurances have you that there aren't malware or viruses?  If they did not have any service packs for a long time then many security vulnerabilities existed on the system, which, if left connected to the internet, could have been exploited.  For a computer that is isolated and never connect to a network, fine no worries, otherwise, worry.  I've they have nothing, and want something free, suggest you try AVG free and Spybot Search & Destroy with TeaTimer, or better yet Microsoft Security Essentials is free for valid authentic copies of Windows.  Supplement that with a scan with Malwarebytes.  You can also download HouseCall from TrendMicro's website and scan with that.  If it finds tons of cookies, no problem that's no big deal, but if it finds other more serious things, worry, and keep scanning and cleaning.  If after a couple scans they come up clean, great, if not, perhaps try SuperAntiSpyware and some others.

The built-in Administrator account remains hidden now, and only shows up when you boot into Safe Mode.

When creating users there is a question whether one wants to make their files anf folders private, if someone said yes to that then the permissions on their home folder and subfolders would prevent other users from accessing unless an Administrator changed the permissions, and likely would have to first "take ownership" in order to be able to change the permissions even.  If you go down that road you could make things worse, since you'd be taking ownership of folders that aren't yours, but if you set the permissions right, then all members of the Administrators group might be able to see.  Unlike XP Professional, Home defaults to "Simple FIle Sharing" mode with simplistic display of ACL security priviledges, but that's not to say it doesn't exist under the blankets.
Also, Home hides the Local Users and Groups from the Computer Management (right click Computer choose Manage or Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Computer Management)  Home expects you to see Users under Control Panel User, or right click Computer Properties, or Control Panel, System,  Advanced, User profiles, Settings)  Here is a trick around that limitation http://www.experts-exchange.com/OS/Microsoft_Operating_Systems/Windows/XP/Q_26669227.html  Any of those should help you figue out which user is which.
Most OEM installs of XP Home defaulted to a username of Owner if you did not fill in any usernames during the initial syspreparation wizard asking to create users.
On the other hand, let's say you had a user called Administrator.  It's folder would be C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator   Now suppose you "renamed" that user to Owner, well the folder would still be C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator, and in Task Manager it's processes would still show as user Administrator, BUT the "freindly" name, the one that displays on the start menu and the Logon screen would now be Owner.  This is a stupid thing about "renaming" users.  One way to detect that is to check Task Manager or use the Computer Management MMC to view Local Users and Groups trick I referenced.
LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 35696833
There are about 100 hotfixes that come after Service Pack 3 even, so you'll likely have several go rounds before a visit to the windowsupdate.microsoft.com site says 0 critial updates left to install.

Expert Comment

ID: 35700042
Yes, you can also get it all over with by opening internet explorer, then going to tools-windows update.

This will cut down your number of restarts considerably, and you can do most of the updates at once. It also gives you a list of the optional updates which are good to have too.

If you want the updates over with, definitely bypass the auto  updates and do it through internet explorer.

Definitely do ALL the updates, and THEN let us know if you are still having problems, because updates do fix A LOT of horrible bugs.

Hope this helps,


Author Comment

ID: 35703537
Well, took a break from tonight.  Still have some updates to do but I'll get to that tomorrow (Friday).  Thanks for all the input.  I'll get back to the forum with a progress report.

Author Comment

ID: 35707472
OK - Back at it.  I have the updates that IE says to get.  However, I am STILL getting the bunch of multi(0)disk errors that go flying past and then a blue screen with a Windows XP logo in the upper right corner and this message:  Microsoft (R) Windows (R) Version 5.1 (Build 2600: Service Pack 3) 1 System Processor [503 MB Memory]  

Is this due to the 512K ram issue?  The neighbor is willing to upgrade the memory IF it is going to fix this issue.  Any insights?  Would a jpg of the message screen give anyone any clues?  

I can't provide much info about the multi(0)disk errors list that goes flashing by - I can't seem to pause it and it is still out at DOS anyway. Maybe there is something in the BIOS that is telling the PC to do some kind of test at start up?  If so - I can seem to find it.
LVL 93

Expert Comment

ID: 35707886
post the minidump - find it in windows\minidumps
you can access it with a bootable cd  :
ftp://ftp.kernel.org/pub/dist/knoppix/KNOPPIX_V6.4.4CD-2011-01-30-EN.iso  Knoppix      
www.nu2.nu/pebuilder/                               BartPe

Author Comment

ID: 35710448
Ok - Here are a bunch of photos with my camera.  Hope they are readable...

First - I forgot to mention at the VERY beginning of this post - I reformatted the hard drive, reloaded windows, drivers and apps from disks that came with the Gateway machine,  See post 35695723 where I mention I COULD reformat AGAIN and start all over - YUCK!  

That being said, obviously there were no viruses or malicious software left on it. But I HAVE put AVG and MalwareBytes on it and have the latest definition files and have scanned the machine - several times and never has it found any threats.

That being made clear -

I was able to write down the minidump (see the text file attachment) by using the pause screen.  I also found an old 512 ddr ram stick and I put that into the machine with one of the original 256 sticks so now it has 768.  But it doesn't seem to make a difference with these issues.

The PC seems to be working OK once it gets into Windows but I don't understand why the dump, why the 45 second delay displaying screen 2 and then why it displays screen 3.  

I still can't access the original "Owner" account but since I backed up all the data files, email (including the address book), the roadrunner connection .iaf file, their favorites and their desktop - I THINK I have everything that was in the "Owner" profile so I guess I don't care why I can't get at it.

I have set up ONE user (with admin rights) but I am a little afraid to let the neighbor use that.  I think I should do a limited rights user but I don't want to try to do too much more because I am afraid something MORE will go goofy.

I also would like the machine to just go right into windows without having to pick a user.  It does that now, well once it gets past screens 1,2 and 3, but that's probably because the account is an admin - right?

What more can / should I do?
Thanks SO much for everyone's patience!
LVL 11

Accepted Solution

ocanada_techguy earned 1500 total points
ID: 35711135
All those multi(0)disk(0) lines are NOT errors.  To be charitable, you're out of your depth not knowing that.  Now you'll know.  
That (screen1a) is exactly what it looks like when you are booting into "Safe Mode", it is "tracing" when you choose safe mode or "Step-by-Step" in the boot options.
You see those options a) when right after the BIOS display, right before Windows starts booting, you press the F8 function key and are thus presented with boot options.
The boot options will also display b) if windows detects that the last shutdown was an improper shutdown, it will automatically show normal mode or safe mode with safe mode being the default.
So, if that's the case, concentrate on why the system hangs/freezes or BSODs (blue screen of death) which is definitely an improper shutdown
It will also go through the autochkdsk checking the integrity of the filesystem shown in screen3a if the dirty bit indicates the system was not shutdown properly.  So that is why it does that too.  
What you're calling minidump.txt is NOT an error dump at all.
There's a third possibility why you would be seeing the step-by-step without explicitly invoking it with the F8 boot option menu, and that would be c) in the boot.ini file has been tweaked such that those command-line options are used, every time by default.
Screen4a looks like a normal, not a safe mode desktop, because safe mode displays white text across the top and bottom of the background and you don't have that.  But it does seem a lower resolution, almost VGA resolution, as if it does not have the correct graphics card display driver so is reverting to vga compatibility.  That could suggest i) you do not have the correct drivers installed for the hardware you are running on.  However, screen4a ALSO shows that the default look of WinXP has been disabled, instead of the green start button the taskbar is grey, the older look of previous windows.  It doesn't change that by itself.  I HAVE seen some techs make pirated versions of XP that change a bunch of defaults, such as that.  They turn off the unnecessary features of XP trying to eek out every tiny bit of performance improvement.
These last clues beg the question whether you have just any XP CD and NOT a preload for that machine and/or also a drivers disk with all the drivers for that hardware.

Lastly, if the system is BSODing (blue screen of death) crashing, you might try taking a photograph of that (or furnising the dump file that makes) BUT one of the annoyances of Windows is by default if it BSODs it restarts, reboots automatically, so, the blue screen flashes by on the screen too quickly.  To get around that problem, you can change that one behaviour.  Control Panel, System. Go to Advanced tab, and click the Startup and Recovery Settings button.  Turn off by unchecking the Automatically restart.
Also, you can "see" what command-line options are being used to boot (I don't recommend you change those with Edit, but you can at least note and write down and report back or compare them, without necessarily changing them without expert advice) and you should see that it should be set to create a minidump if it BSOD crashes and where that minidump file is supposed to go, not to mention log an entry in the Event log.

I've raised numerous questions.  Do you have the needed CD with the drivers for that hardware or not?  Do you need to go to the gateway support (now the merger of Gateway Acer and eMachines companies, whose website may or may not have drivers for hardware that old after the mergers)?  Is the XP genuine?  How did it come to be classic view (no big deal, but do we know)?  Most of all, why is it step-by-step booting and autochkdsk checking the disk for errors? every time?  Presumably because it's not shutdown properly, are you shutting down properly? no? Presumably because it crashes or hangs?  Which?  If BSOD, do the preceeding paragraph so the BSOD can be seen/caught on screen.  

I'm betting it'll be a 0x0000007e, which is an incorrect drivers mismatch the hardware, but we'll see, could be numerous other things.

You're absolutely right if you reformatted the disk then there is no way any of the previous Owner files are going to be there, no way, and to muse or wonder if they might, well, out of depth.
There's an approach called a repair install and there's an in-place reinstall, those do not reformat, but those approaches don't get rid of half the problems or viruses or rootkits either, so a wipe/reformat aka clean install may've been needed, files gone, assuming that's what was done.
LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 35711153
%systemroot% usually equates to C:\Windows\, or wherever this windows was installed to, and under there you'll find a Minidump folder, and in there you'll find some dumps, and if you View bydetails you'll see the date-time that each was created.  Just type %systemroot% in the start, Run box and click ok, and it'll take you there, or if you run programs, accessories, Command Prompt, and then in the black command prompt window type the command SET and press enter, you'll see all the "environment variables" including what %systemroot% works out to be.
LVL 93

Expert Comment

ID: 35711155
by posting the memory dump i mean the file you find in the location i posted

Author Comment

ID: 35712551
Dear nobus - Thank you for clarifying what you meant by the "memory dump".  I mistakenly thought you meant all the multi(0)disk(0) lines.  I can't find a "minidump" folder - see the attachment please.

Dear ocanada techguy,
OK - so I miss typed and called the multi(0)disk(0) lines ERRORS.  So just shoot me OK!
Sorry, I'm getting feisty but read on please...

I NEVER said I was in Safe Mode - I KNOW what that is.  I ALSO never chose "Step-by-Step" in the boot options.  I am NOT pressing F8 - or any other key for that matter - I turn the machine on after shutting done PROPERLY (with Start - Turn Off Computer - Turn Off  a duh!)  and I am NOT just doing a Restart and those screens just appear before starting WIndows NORMALLY.

During this nightmare of an upgrade, the machine has NEVER frozen or hung and I am not getting the BSOD!  A BSOD doesn't have the little Windows logo in the corner and then proceed normally after 45 seconds now does it?!  It may be doing an autochkdsk on its own but NOT because the machine wasn't shut done correctly.  Don't make assumptions - read on please...

Screen4a IS normal mode and yes, it is in low resolution because the monitor I am using for this process is simply a spare I have so I can run two machines at one time.  I don't have a 21 inch monitor, with DVI 1600 x 1200 for TESTING!  This one is OLD and SMALL and is set at VGA 800 x 600. Don't make assumptions - read on please...

No, the machine is NOT running in classic mode - see jpg attached with this post.

You seem to ASSUME a lot of things that are NOT in fact accurate...See the jpg of the NON-pirated, Gateway supplied CDs that I have been using.  OK - sorry, I am shouting again!  shhhhhh

As for the Owner account...Here are the BASIC steps that I took during this process.
1) Copied all the wanted files to a thumb drive. .rtf, .iaf, .wab, .dbx, favorites, desktop, etc.
2) Reformatted the PC
3) Used the Gateway supplied Windows XP Home Edition Version 1.2 CD to reinstall Windows
4) Did NOT enter a User Name
5) Started Windows successfully and was given the choice to log in as OWNER - which I did.
6) Copied back the files - See #1
7) Loaded the Drivers CD and the Application CD.  See the .jpg attachment.
8) Restarted the machine - shutting down PROPERLY - oops, I mean properly.
9) Chose the user name of Owner
10) Went to the Microsoft site and started the Windows Updates.  Said there were 71 of them.
11) They ran (while I went and got some dinner) and must have restarted the machine because when I came back the machine was at the login screen and I again chose OWNER (This is after the reformat; so the Owner account exists somewhere!)
12) Now I downloaded, installed and updated Malwarebytes and AVG Free; and ran both of them - no problems found by either software
13) Went to shut down the machine for the night and saw the message that additional files needed to be installed and selected the option to allow them to be installed and upon completion to shut off the PC.
14) Went to watch some TV and then headed back to the computer.  Now the trouble begins... See my first post.

So there SHOULD be an Owner account somewhere because I used it several times after the reformat but before the 74 XP updates to Version 3 and when I try to re-create it I am told it already exists - yet I can't use / see it.

There is NO "windows/minidump" folder even with hidden files, and system files turn ON - See attached jpg so I typed the "autochkdsk" lines - (Is that what you want me to call them instead of a minidump?) thinking they MIGHT be informative to you experts out there.

I did use the "Edit" button in System Properties / Startup and Recovery and compared my own machines boot.ini file to the one on the neighbor's PC.  The main (though not only difference because I am running XP Pro) was the following at the end of the line:
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect /sos.

I removed that - and all is well with the machine! Whew!  Simple enough if I had know / or thought to compare / edit the boot.ini

So ends those mysteries.  See next post...

Author Comment

ID: 35712558
So - there are two remaining questions and then I will award points...

1) I have set up ONE user (with admin rights) but I am a little afraid to let the neighbor use that.  I think I should do a limited rights.  Is this correct?

2) I also would like the machine to just go right into windows without having to pick a user.  It does that now but that's probably because the account is an admin - right?  So - if I set up a limited rights user account - will the neighbor have to select it or is there a way to let it go directly into Windows?

Thanks SOOO much for you interest / responses.
LVL 93

Expert Comment

ID: 35712678
ok - may your system is not set to make them
if you like to set it, use the screenschot ocanada posted above

if you have one user, you can set it's rights as you like
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/279783, more info :

you can also change the way to log on :  http://support.microsoft.com/kb/291559
LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 35712726
Excellent, and kudos for not taking any guff from me!  lol  I apologize.  Just trying to give possible explanations to the clues I was seeing.

A-ha! so the /sos mode was causing the step-by-step and some "safe-mode-like" behaviours.  Glad we checked it.

An alternate explanation for the Owner disappear thing was after service pack 2 Home edition hides the built-in administrator account except in safe mode, so if say the Owner account had no password on it, and since Administrator was hidden, the OS might just forge ahead right to the Owner's desktop.  Can't see the top of screenshot P5070475.JPG to see which user friendly name appears.

1)  If you try Safe Mode you should find that there is also a "hidden" Administrator account there.  It's a bit of a safety net.  Home edition is a little different that Pro edition that way.  But yes, sure, for any accounts that you'd rather not let them add/remove programs unthinkingly or unknowlingly mess things up, make them a normal user.

2) It does that because there is only one "unhidden" account and said account has no password.  As soon as there's more than one account it will likely stop at the friendly login screen once again.  And besides that, you might want to have a password on accounts that have admin rights.
LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 35712764
Is that the AVG Free anti-virus icon in the bottom right of screen4a, can't quite tell owing to the blur of resolution.  If so, great, just keep in mind it's a fine anti-virus, easily equal to the best, but the "anti-malware" features are reserved for the $ pay-for AVG suite.  So, you'll want to have Malwarebytes, that they should run every month or so, or Spybot Search & Destroy (which has a schedule feature, although it's not the most obvious thing to set-up).  If Spybot, consider TeaTimer, which acts as a shield and sits in the system tray and blocks blacklisted, allows whitelisted, and prompts for unkown changes to the registry, and the Immunize feature blocks thousands of known bad sites from your browser by redirecting them in the hosts file.

Alternatively, I'd highly encourage you to instead consider Microsoft Security Essentials, since that one is both free anti-virus AND free anti-malware/spyware, and would have slightly lower overhead than AVG and TeaTimer combined, not to mention is much simpler user interface, so for this customer you are fixing they might find it easier and slightly more protection.  Although, I do like the AVG linkscanner showing green yellow or red ratings on google search results, and you might prefer they use what you're familiar with so you can help them by phone if the need should arise.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 35712767
OK - I created an account with limited rights and left it password free.  The neighbor will use this one.

I set up a password for the user with Admin rights and I will use that if they call me back for issues (I doubt that because I have had their machine for a week now and have spent megga hours working on it - If I were to really charge for all my time - for that much, they could have gone out and bought a NEW machine!)

They'll have to live with having to choose a user.  I need to be done with this project!

So, although it took forever to reach a solution, I was able to discover it because of this sentence from ocanada techguy:
There's a third possibility why you would be seeing the step-by-step without explicitly invoking it with the F8 boot option menu, and that would be c) in the boot.ini file has been tweaked such that those command-line options are used, every time by default.
 AND because he was polite enough to apologize, I'll award him the points.
LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 35712894
:) ty

I know eh, when you can buy a refurbished computer for $250 that'll run circles around the old one, no wonder we're a throw-away society.  Ya people can buy a whole new computer for $400, or laptop for a bit more, but certainly don't want to pay for the ten, twenty plus hours it could take to fix one, or for that matter set one up install and configure the printer, camera, office productivity, browser, flash, adobe, music, ripping, burning, codecs, photoediting, photo management, instant messaging etc etc don't forget anti-virus anti-malware.  Thank goodness most all of these are easy enough that most people can do it for themselves.

Say Pittsford, if they have to "bug" you everytime they want to update Flash or Java etc, that will become too much of a hassle for you both.  You may end up elevating the normal user to a computer administrator, OR, you might end up telling them what that password is and they can use that account for adding/removing software and try to keep the habit of then logging in as the normal user for day-to-day use, a slightly safer approach, if unusual because of the inconvenience.

Like backups, if it's at all inconvenient, they don't, they won't do it.

And, as you've guessed, that whole rig-a-ma-roll is so stupid, that in windows Vista and 7 they fixed it so all users, even administrators, run in a better protected shell and receive the "bloop" Admin Approval Mode "something you are doing is requesting administrative rights" (and put in an administrator password unless you're already an administrator) User Account Control (UAC) thingy.

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