No users on XP boot... could be SAM/Registry corruption?

By jerryd ยท 9 replies
Nov 25, 2005
  1. Hi,

    I crashed and XP "automatically" restored an older ?! version of my registry (so the dialog says) and now there are no users on the after boot screen. I try CTRL ALT DELETE to log in as admin, no joy.

    The partition is there, and windows seems to work. I even tried doing a "repair" install, and no joy there either.

    ANY idea what I can do? Can I create a SAM, or copy one? Is there a backup I could use?

  2. ehoag

    ehoag TS Rookie

    Well, I am having a very similar problem. Administrator account seems to be disabled so all I am left with is a Guest account. So i'm basically screwed. I've been trying all sorts of crap to fix this. First try (it is a boot disk which allows you do enable / reset passwords and lots of other neat stuff. I am told that this will for sure fix yours and my problem, yet when i run it ALL I GET IS GERMAN!!@) So, if you can get that boot disk to run plz let me know :)

    Another thing you can try is
    This is supposedly the same thing, but my computer doesnt like it. While its the same thing, its called something completely different, so i'm not entirely sure.

    Once again, please let me know if you get something to work. And for everybody else. PLEASE HELP! How do you re-enable the Administrator account?!
  3. ehoag

    ehoag TS Rookie

  4. ehoag

    ehoag TS Rookie

    I heard there is another security hole in XP. You get to it by repairing XP (DONT delete the partition) and after it tells you to reboot, and there is a status bar on the bottom left hand of the screen hit SHIFT + F10 and you will be able to get to some menu where you can monkey with profiles and the like. I haven't tried this but I have been assured that it does work. I ended up nuke and paving my HDD so my problem has been dealt with.
  5. jerryd

    jerryd TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hi ehoag,

    thanks for all the tips. I haven't tried them, but I did manage to mount my drive on another XP box and get my critical info off. The configs and saved passwords are still lost, and that is a bummer, so I will try some of your suggestions and see if I can get anything to work.

  6. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,165   +986

    did you try booting into SAFE MODE?

    the user data is located at
    \Documents and Settings\$your-login-name
  7. topsites

    topsites TS Rookie

    There is usually a copy of an older SAM file at \windows\repair\
    But before you do it:
    1) Boot from floppy or Windows will 'access' SAM and you will be unable to deal with it.
    2) Make a directory, such as C:\TMP\ and
    2a) Copy c:\windows\system32\config\SAM c:\tmp\SAM.bak
    THEN copy c:\windows\repair\SAM c:\windows\system32\config\SAM

    In my case, I used a Windows 98 SE floppy, the copy command is pretty decent but you take your chances, make sure you copy ONE file at a time and make a backup first.
  8. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,666

    If you have NTFS you can't use a 9x boot floppy, as it cannot access your NTFS partitions!

    The Recovery Console can get you access to the repair folder and config folders.
  9. topsites

    topsites TS Rookie

    Of course to most folks, the simple solution is to format but I don't believe in that, it has been 5 years since I did a complete re-format. The Recovery Console is nice but a big POS in my case, nothing I couldn't have done without, and I did not have it and could not make it available. However, nothing the RecCon could have done would have saved me.
    I had NO explorer so no file control, no executing of anything except from the command-line, which is accessed via Ctrl-Alt-Del, then New Task... From there I could do cmd.exe, and regedit, and firefox worked, but without explorer, I couldn't download, or save, or do anything at all so long windows was in control, there was no file management except through cmd.exe, which still will NOT copy files that are IN use by windows.
    I had no desktop and no taskbar, thou the icons showed, they did not respond. The taskbar did absolutely nothing, so all the cool tricks about Start > etc did not work. Oh, I forgot to mention, it would only boot in safe mode, thou lucky me it did boot to safe mode with networking so I had Internet, via Firefox and firefox only (I love that browser).
    I had only user access, and since it has been 2-3 years since I installed this OS, I had no more memory of what the password was than John Doe has memory of how many square miles of planet Jupiter consists of. Although it was the same user I have always logged in as, it had no admin privileges even thou the account is set for this, that did not work.
    The neat ntfs tricks didn't work, all it did was corrupt my SAM files, I am using Win XP Sp2 Pro and evidently most cheats/tricks are meant for Xp Home... Yes, and the clever trick of booting to Safe mode with command prompt or whatever only works with the password! Forget making a boot floppy or a boot cd, there is NO explorer, thus there is no formatting or anything else involving disk access or execution, except perhaps by using another OS that does NOT involve this HDD's version. Needless to say, the CD is outdated so that was out of the question (we know the warning, right?). Yes, you can slip-stream it, with no explorer there will be no making of boot disks.
    So that 98 might be incapable of accessing all the drive and its folders I do not doubt, all I used it for was to make a directory and copy a few files. It worked for me, I am sharing the idea, is all... It is certainly no crazier than using a Unix OS to boot just because it HAS ntfs support, Unix is no closer to XP than Win98se, in that sense.
    Thou I am awaiting results on the password recovery, because I lost all my favorites, all my settings/accounts/passwords/usernames/email filters/etc, and more than a few short-cuts need restoring and it sure would be nice to login as User again (I am now on as admin) but without passwords, none of this is possible.

    But, I have all my files, and my windows works again.
    The only thing that doesn't work is the cd-burner, but that's nothing new.

    So, do as you please but there comes a time when all the nifty solutions do NOT work, and I am sorry but re-formatting would involve a week's work just to get back to basics... Mind you, I burn backups of important files to CD-Rom, so nothing is ever lost, but dumping gigs of CD files back onto a hard-drive is NOT a fast process.
  10. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,666

    Good night Topsites! You eat a rotten apple or something :)

    I mearly stated that a 9x boot disk can NOT access file on an NTFS partition, it can not read them. Recovery Console is all but perfect for accessing "most" of XPs files, including the repair folder and the config folder which both contain the files needed from the previous solution.
    The R.C. can be used to to fix the boot partition, write a new master file record, check the disk for errors, extract files off the XP CD, do partition work, rebuild the boot.ini file, and a handful of other features that come in quite handy.

    In your particular case, I would have reloaded :) Though I also don't belive in reloading, I always like to find the problem and fix it.
    However, reloading doesn't take so very long, I can do a reload in 30 minutes. The time taking process is the backing up of files, and downloading of updates, and installing of programs. Which can take the better part of a day.

    Just FYI to anybody who was/is in a similar boat as Topsites, assume you can get into Windows but have no shell (no desktop, icons, start menu, etc...), if you don't want to use the command line, you can edit the system.ini file and change/add the "shell=" line to point to "progman.exe". So like this: shell=c:\windows\system32\progman.exe
    You may not have to use the full path. This will, upon restart, give you a new shell to work with, with file and folder access, drag/drop and other stuff. MS also says you can use "winfile", as explained in this KB:;EN-US;Q249191

    The point is, there are many ways to fix a problem. And it all depends on the person's situation. If they don't need a backup and have recovery CDs? They could restore the PC and be up and running in 2 hours or less. If the hard drive is filled with data and they have no other PC or hard drive, a fix is almost essential. Nevertheless, around this forum, most people will hear just about any and every possible fix, which is always good.

    But anyhoo, it's late, I'm going to bed
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