Win 2000 - Add some RC to Windows 2000

However, not even Windows 2000 can cope with everything. Recently, I updated my anti-virus program, and ended up with a system that rebooted itself upon startup. I had forgotten to tell the setup program not to install the anti-virus as a system service, so as not to interfere with a low-level driver for Adaptec's Easy CD software (which caused me an extraordinary amount of trouble earlier by colliding head-on with Windows Media Player 7 and denying access to my CD drives). (See http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q237/4/68.ASP?LN=EN-US&SD=gn&FR=0 for details.)Safe Mode wouldn't work, either. I got the infamous Blue Screen of Death with a cryptic error message: STOP 0x0000001E:KMODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED.

Had this been NT4 and my discs been NTFS partitions, it would have been time for some major wailing and gnashing of teeth, because it's very hard to recover from these types of errors. With Windows 2000, however, you have the nifty Recovery Console (RC) - which is a godsend for getting past those pesky STOP errors.

Running RC From CD-ROM

To run the RC, pop in your Windows 2000 installation CD-ROM, and boot up your computer. You might have to change a BIOS setting to have the system boot from your CD-ROM drive first. The familiar Windows 2000 setup and installation program will begin, and will examine the hardware in your system. When you get to the "Welcome To Setup" screen, press to select "Repair a Windows 2000 installation". Next, you'll be asked to select the Windows 2000 installation to which you want to connect by pressing the corresponding number (e.g., 1. if you only have C:\WINNT on your system). Give the local Administrator password, press , and you'll get the RC command prompt - more on what you can do with the RC in a moment.

If you haven't got a bootable, El Torito-compliant CD-ROM drive, you should create the four boot floppies from the Windows 2000 CD, by running \BOOTDISK\MAKEBOOT.BAT; have four fresh floppies handy.

Put RC on the menu

While it's useful to boot into the RC command prompt from the setup discs, it's also slow. If you can still access the system hard disks, why not put RC on the start-up menu? Follow these steps:

Insert the Windows 2000 CD-ROM, and either open a cmd-box or use the Start-Run Program dialogue.

Type :\i386\winnt32.exe /cmdcons. This creates a hidden "cmdcons" directory, which on the systems I tried always ended up on the C: drive, rather than the system drive. It'll cost about 5.5MB of disk space, but it is well worth it.

The file that tells the NTLOADER bootloader which operating systems to load - boot.ini - will be modified automatically, in the following manner:

[Boot Loader]

timeout=30

Default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(4)\WINNT[Operating Systems]multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(4)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional" /fastdetectC:\CMDCONS\BOOTSECT.DAT"="Microsoft Windows 2000 Recovery Console" /cmdconsNow you'll have quick and easy access to the RC at boot-up, by pressing and selecting "Windows 2000 Recovery Console".

Useful RC commands

The RC command interface is a bit quirky, but it does have online help for all items, and doesn't take long to get used to. Here's a list of the RC commands:

Attrib delete fixmbr more

Batch Dir format rd

Cd disable help ren

Chdir diskpart listsvc rename

Chkdsk enable logon rmdir

Cls Exit map systemroot

Copy expand md type

Del fixboot mkdir set

Most of the commands behave more or less like their DOS counterparts - for example, "Dir" gives you a directory listing.

In my case, I used listsvc (list service) to figure out the name of the offending anti-virus service, and then typed disable to stop it from loading, then typed Exit to reboot the system, which came up as per usual, thank goodness.

Some other commands that can save your hide include:

Fixboot - use this if the boot sector of your Windows 2000 boot partition becomes corrupted. Use it with the switch if you want to put the new boot sector elsewhere.

Fixmbr - as the name implies, this command repairs the Master Boot Record on the Windows 2000 system partition, if, for instance, a virus has whacked it. It can be dangerous to use if the virus is still there, so disinfect first. Use it in combination with the map command to get the name of the device on which to put the new MBR.

The Recovery Console is your friend. Learn how to use it as soon as possible!

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