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Windows Server 2003 Standard R2 x32 reboots at "Setup is starting Windows" screen during installation

Posted on 2012-03-27
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Last Modified: 2014-10-05
I'm having an issue attempting a Windows Server 2003 Standard repair installation (or a normal installation for that matter). I have an Intel server motherboard and an add-in Adaptec SCSI RAID 2120s card with a RAID 5 array. Here are the things that I've already found and attempted:

Unplugging server, reseating memory, checking connections, etc.
Loading the latest Adaptec drivers via F6 (of course)
Trying alternative Windows Server discs (both 32 and 64 bit)
F5 during setup and selecting "Standard PC"
F7 during setup to bypass driver requirements
Installing from a USB optical drive
Removing non-essential devices from the server
Disabling serial ports and other non-essentials in the BIOS
Disabling the floppy drive
Booting from Window XP installation disc (same reboot at "setup is starting windows" result)
Booting from a Debian installation disc (boots normally)
Installing a separate PATA hard drive as the primary hard drive boot device

I haven't really been able to find any other solutions for other people having this same problem. Most of the posts that I've found stated that the installation at this point hangs or locks up instead of restarting the computer.

A little background on my issue. This server had a power problem with the UPS that it was plugged into and corrupted the RAID5 array. We had to rebuild parts of the array and was able to get it back to optimal status. Afterwards, our Windows server installation started blue screening with registry issues. This is why I was attempting a Windows server repair installation to begin with.

Any help is greatly appreciated!
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Question by:pccopilots
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Author Comment

by:pccopilots
ID: 37773748
I just removed the adaptec raid controller to test and the Windows setup continued and didn't restart the server as it has been. I'm not sure why it's doing this though as I've correctly installed the adaptec drivers during the initial F6 option. Does anyone have any suggestions as to why the Windows setup breaks with this adaptec controller installed?
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 37775532
Two possible causes:
a)The RAID controller firmware is malfunctioning
b)Your Windows installation CD does not have proper drivers
And the third (less possible) cause - this Adaptec Card won't work with your motherboard. In this case connect it to any other mobo and try to install Windows there. This will let you narrow the problem to the card.

If the card is proved to be culprit then try to update firmware of the card (BIOS).
If the card is not a problem then you need slipstream drivers into Windows CD.
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Expert Comment

by:Sjizzel
ID: 37776172
May sound silly, but maybe worth a try...

check settings in BIOS for SATA settings.

Had the exact problem on an HP notebook, it is not a server, I know, but who knows it works...
Went to bios-->system configuration-->SATA Native Support-->changed enabled to DISABLED

That fixed my problem
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Author Comment

by:pccopilots
ID: 37776505
Thanks @noxcho and @Sjizzel for the comments.

@noxcho - I will attempt a firmware upgrade on the RAID controller to see if that changes things. The installation disc doesn't have the drivers for the card - that's why I F6 to load the drivers from Adaptec's website. Also, the card does work with the motherboard as the server has been running since 2006 in this same configuration. I've not had much success slipstreaming drivers into a Windows installation disc, but may end up trying that out if all else fails.

@Sjizzle - I have checked that and the SATA controller has already been disabled as we have no SATA devices in the server.

I may try an older Adaptec driver for the controller card as well, but any other suggestions are very much appreciated!
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 37776853
I will attempt a firmware upgrade on the RAID controller to see if that changes things. The installation disc doesn't have the drivers for the card - that's why I F6 to load the drivers from Adaptec's website. Also, the card does work with the motherboard as the server has been running since 2006 in this same configuration. I've not had much success slipstreaming drivers into a Windows installation disc, but may end up trying that out if all else fails.
Although the card worked well with this motherboard it could now get corrupt (the mobo or the card). In any case it is worth trying.
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Author Comment

by:pccopilots
ID: 37787716
Ok, well I still am not able to boot into the Windows Server 2003 Standard disc to run a repair installation. It still reboots right after the "Setup is Starting Windows" part.

I was able to boot up with <Admin Edit> into the Mini Windows XP, and it was able to see the RAID array without an issue. I can browse the partitions and files on the RAID array so I don't think the problem is with the controller (otherwise, I wouldn't be able to view the data).

I've also tried downloading the oldest drivers on Adaptec's website to load during the F6 part of the install, but it still reboots during the setup.

I can copy the data from within the Mini Windows XP from <Admin Edit>, but I would much rather repair the installation on Windows as this is the PDC for the domain. I've ran through NTDSUTIL and ASDIEDIT in the past to repair a broken domain after a PDC failed, but I would only want to do that in this situation as a last resort.

Any other help is greatly appreciated!
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 37788932
Can you still check the card on different motherboard?
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Accepted Solution

by:
pccopilots earned 0 total points
ID: 37862161
Sorry for the delay in responding back to my question. I was unable to check the card on a different motherboard as I didn't have anything else this could physically connect to. Regardless, we've ended up copying the data from the RAID array to an external drive to move it to a different server. As stated before, the controller and the RAID array was fully accessible booted into Mini Windows XP, so that's what we used to copy the data off of the array.

Unfortunately now I guess this server is useless as we can't repair the existing Windows Server installation or install a fresh copy since the installation process still reboots at the "Setup is starting Windows" screen.
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Author Closing Comment

by:pccopilots
ID: 40361924
The issue wasn't resolved. I ended up having to use my removed reference boot disk utility to copy the data off the RAID array to an external hard drive and move to a separate server.
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