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XP is Stuck in a Logon/Logoff Loop


By steve - Posted on 13 April 2005

This is usually caused by one of two things: 1) the registry is corrupted where the logon information used by the system is, or 2) you have spyware installed (then uninstalled) that has left behind a reference to a startup file that doesn't exist (see #1).

How do you get around this?

Well, the trick is to be able to get to the registry and fix the problem, but how do you do that if you can't login? A "parallel install" of windows won't help because you can't edit the registry from there. Here's how I got to regedit using a variation on an old hacker's trick for getting past the administrator's password.

  1. Insert XP install disk and reboot (you have to be able to boot from CD on this system)
  2. Get to the point where you can start the install, but instead, take the option to press R for repair
  3. Select the installed copy of windows you want to work with
  4. Enter the Administrator password (which is probably blank).
  5. You should now be at a C:\WINDOWS or similar prompt and running the repair environment
  6. cd \windows\system32
  7. rename logon.scr logon.old
  8. copy cmd.exe logon.scr
  9. exit
  10. reboot
  11. You'll be back on your logon screen, but don't do anything. Wait until the screensaver kicks in. When it does, you'll see a cmd.exe command prompt window.
  12. Now you can start regedit to begin repairing what you can of the registry.
  13. If the problem was due to BlazeFind not correctly uninstalling, look for:
    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon]

    In the right-pane, change the value of Userinit to "C:\WINDOWS\system32\userinit.exe"

  14. If the problem was due to registry corruption, you might not be able to even get to that entry. Try cleaning up the garbage entries right around that location. You may need to recreate that entry.
Tags

You are the man! Worked like a charm.

Steve,
I wish everyone with this problem could find your post. It is simple and it works, assuming your screen saver is not set to "never". I didn't want to try to fix it, just get my files. Worked great, copied my files to my WD usb drive. Thanks a lot. Randy

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