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Thread: Windows XP Home Repair Install Activation Fail

  1. #1
    Bronze Member Island_Boy_77's Avatar
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    Windows XP Home Repair Install Activation Fail

    Hi All

    I've just been trying to clean up a friend's PC that was fairly badly infected with all manner of nasties. After running the Avast BART CD, then Super Antispyware, Malwarebytes, ComboxFix, Spybot & Smitfraud, the PC seemed to be looking good. After a restart, I noticed that I was no longer able to install as the Windows Installer had crapped out. Rather than fart about with trying to figure out how to get it back up again, I decided on a Repair Install. I've done such plenty of times with success (but mostly on Pro, not Home) - but not this time. The process went thru fine, I entered my friends legit Dell COA from the side of his case blah blah etc. On the final reboot though, when it gets to that screen with the XP logo just before it goes thru to the initial screen size adjustment, it locked. I gave it 20 mins then just powered down. On reboot, it went straight to the login screen - so far, so good. However, when I entered my friend's password, I got the dreaded "you must activate this copy of Windows XP before you can login" message. Every time I've come across that in the past, it has been a reformat and install. If I say yes, it goes to desktop but there are no icons or taskbar and it just sits there doing nothing (I waited 45 mins - no change). If I say no, it logs me back out to the login screen.

    Determined not to succumb to MS's poor programming skills yet again, I looked for a work-around. I found that one where one uses a backed-up version of the wpa.dbl file - since I didn't have one, I installed a diff HDD, did a basic install & activation, then used THAT wpa.dbl file in the orig System32 folder - but that didn't help.

    There is no AV on the system at the mo, so that's not causing the prob (the one that was on there was that crappy AVG - I intend putting the excellent Avast on there at some point). I can boot to safe mode in both the friend's login & thru Administrator, but not with networking turned on. I can get full access to the HDD thru safe mode. The only prog that loads (that I am aware of) between login & desktop is a canon "My printer" monitor - I took everything else out before the Repair Install.

    So - can anyone help me to get around this poxy activation (which should never have happened anyway since nothing has changed on the system - I did upgrade the CPU & RAM a couple of day's ago, but Windows was happy to stay pat at the time: maybe the virus infections got in the way of the WGA system?) - my friend is prepared for the worst, but she'd REALLY prefer not to go for the format / install option...

    Cheers
    Peter

  2. #2
    Head Honcho Administrator Reverend's Avatar
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    Try this: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/l.../bb457078.aspx

    One other thing, has your friend got a Dell recovery disc they could try?

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  3. #3
    Succeded in braking Windo TZ Veteran Dehcbad25's Avatar
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    The might be a couple of problems. Firs to to simplyfy, the wpa.dbl creates an encryption using the hardware of the machine, so installing Windows in a different drive, will not work.
    Since your repair got stuck at a point, there might be 2 possible problems here.
    1) the repair got stuck because it could not access a file. Very possible with some spyware.
    2) the repair just stopped working and you have different file version files.
    Most likely it is a combination of both.
    So, what to do?...I would try another repair install. If that does not work, I would backup the important data, and do a clean install. You could do an install in a different folder, but I find them messy, and with lost of wasted space, however, it does give the option to recover the programs little by little (a lot of programs will work from the old install by just running the exe).
    Some spyware also affect the TCP/IP stack, did you try reinstalling TCP/IP?

  4. #4
    Old and Cranky Super Moderator rik's Avatar
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    Also most of the newer Dells are using (at least were using) recovery partitions. You could restore a factory image by using the ctrl-F11 keystroke during boot to install, unless of course the system was formatted and that partition destroyed.

  5. #5
    Bronze Member Island_Boy_77's Avatar
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    Thanks to Reverend, Dehcbad25 & rik
    Unfortunately, none of those things were viable, and we've had to resort to the "good" 'ol backup and reformat game. I guess this is what people get for not creating their restore disks like they ought to!
    rik: there was a hidden partition on the HDD but it was a diagnostic partition only. I booted into it & poked about, but found it was only for hardware diagnosis - no restore options available anywhere.

  6. #6
    Succeded in braking Windo TZ Veteran Dehcbad25's Avatar
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    backups are crucial, even thought I don't do them. I have too much information to backup.
    Everytime a hard drive dies at home, I reset my life
    Lately I only game on my PC, so the only important files are the save files
    At work, I don't trust backups, so I have several methods to restore information (shadow copies, DFS, etc)
    However, the recovery CDs, is something that should always be around and close, and restore disc are good as well if you depend on the information on the PC. At least I have the initial set for each machine at home

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Super Moderator Big Booger's Avatar
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    I wished backups were faster and easier. That's the down side I see to doing them. They take a lot of time.

    I just burn my files of importance on a DVD or keep them on several clip drives.

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