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Windows cannot restart - Windows updates

adam2112 asked
I logged into someone's server today and got a message that the c: drive was full. Sure enough, there was only 1.5mb of space on C:. The spooler and pagefile are already on the d: drive. I tried uninstalling some programs but it says there is already a program being installed. I checked task manager and didn't see msiexec, setup,exe or anything else that looked like it might be an install. I tried stopping/restarting windows installer service but it was grayed out. I was able to free around 110MB and thought if I rebooted it would free up the windows installer service so I could uninstall some programs. When I restarted, I got the lovely message that Windows was installing 12 updates. It got to update 10 of 12 and now won't finish shutting down. Obviously it probably ran out of space before it could finish installing updates. Is there a way out of this mess?

The server is Windows Server 2003.
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Rebooting and do a system restore to a day before might work.

If you have the pagefile set to auto manage it should still finish it's updates and just create a smaller pagefile without using up all the remaining system space available.

Also, look into your Windows\system32\logfiles for possible space to free up. I just had a 2003 server with almost 6 GBs in that folder aone...
Ehab SalemIT Manager

Did you clear temp files? lookup for large unneeded files, delete unneeded user profiles.
The System Restore is not available in Windows 2003 Server.  This is not enable by default but there is workdone and this has to be done prior being into this situation. Anyways, I am also agreed with what JRaasumaa has said, to check the Paging File on the C:\ ( shouldn't be selected as Auto Manage ). We can remove it for the time being to increase some space.

Enable System Restore on Windows 2003


I would do these steps...

Hard reboot the machine
Boot into the Safe Mode with Networking
Download the TreeSize tool and check where you can free up the disk space.
Delete all the Temp files and remove the profiles by checking the last modified date.

You can certainly judge it better after running this tool. Also, I would suggest to disable the Automatic Update Service on the server.

To run the Windows Installer in Safe Mode with Networking, please create a key under....
Default : Service

It does not require a reboot. You can uninstall the programs...

Good Luck..!!

If possible, boot from something like the Win UBCD, otherwise from the 2003 installer boot disk.
Clear out:
Cleanup these following for all users except the "all users" folder
C:\Documents and Settings\(username)\Local Settings\Temp
C:\Documents and Settings\(username)\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files

You should now be able to boot into Windows again.
Download CCleaner (www.piriform.com) and open the cleaner.
Tick the boxes for IIS logfiles, hotfix uninstallers, prefetch data & then run.

Something else I've found useful is to search the program files folder for *.log & see what comes up.  Some programs have huge logs which you can then zip if the info is needed or delete if not.

Defragging the drive also releases some space (not a lot though), but does help disk performance.
The next step is to identify WHY the disk filled up & prevent it from happening again.


All of these suggestions are great but the problem is that it has not shutdown. I thought it was hung at installing update 10 of 12 but after maybe an hour it said 'Installing update 11 of 12. Another hour and a half and it says installing update 12 of 12. I would have thought Windows would know pretty quickly that it doesn't have space to install the updates but I guess not. I am now inclined to just wait another hour or so to see if it finally finishes trying to install the updates. It's possible it may boot once I get it shutdown. I came onsite to manually power down the server but now I may wait it out.

As for the pagefile, someone had already moved the pagefile off the C: drive so there is no pagefile on c:.

I already know what programs I can uninstall to free up space once I can get back into Windows. I was just wondering if the Windows Updates will eventually fail or if I would have to hold the power button. And I was worried what might happen if I hard boot the machine in the middle of it trying to do a windows update.


I couldn't wait any more for the Windows Updates to finish/fail so I held down the power button. It came back up without any problems. I uninstalled SEP client and created a package that will install it to the D: drive. Will also move SEP Manager to another server.

Also look at things like switching off Windows Error Reporting, and if it's not a file server, also remove indexing.  Both of these can take up large amounts of space.
One problem with having no pagefile at all on the C drive is that in the event of a BSOD or other critical OS failure, you will never get any dump files for analysis.
Sushant GulatiConsultant

I totally agree with what Chev_PCN suggested. The machine shall not create any dump file which has to be set by default at %systemroot%\Memory.DMP...

If this machine bugcheck before then you can also look for .DMP file at the location and move to the D: this will also clear up the space as per the type of Dump is set under System Properties > Advanced > Startup and Recovery.

Oh, yes. Set the dump config to MINIDUMP only, or else dump files may be as large as your physical memory.


Well, I freed up a lot of space. Two hours later it was back to 0kb free. Still searching for what keeps eating up the space.
Download treesize professional and scan the C drive with it from another machine and it should give you a clear picture of the folders and storage usage.

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