I’ve run into this issue so many times while fixing client computers and it seems like every time I do a search for a fix, I get a different answer each time and sometimes, the fix works, sometimes it doesn’t. Well today, my troubles are over! And hopefully yours as well.
I found this ridiculously organized and thorough tutorial over at DanFischbach.com that should fix this problem 99% of the time. In fact, if it can’t fix this issue, you’re better off restoring your system. When you’re done with that, give your pc to your little cousin and buy yourself a Mac. 😉
Anyway, moving on…this guide was written by Dan Fischbach way back in 2006, but for all you Vista-haters out there, it’ll still hold up today. I’m not going to re-post the multi-page guide here, but I will provide a mirror for at least one of the large downloads required for the repair to work.
To see the guide, click here. To download the needed disc images, see below.
Windows Vista Recovery Disc (Direct download removed due to Microsoft copyright claim) — 120Mb
Save Me Disc — For good reasons, I won’t be posting a download of the second disc. As it often changes, it would be a much better idea to download it directly from the source.
*If the link above is not there, the mirror is not available at the moment. Try again later.
Here’s something you can try if you don’t want to go through the whole guide. Sometimes, the problem is just a quick fix. Please note that if you follow the guide, this fix is performed automatically. It’s still advised to follow the full guide!
I’ve seen quite a few infected computers lately that have some type of virus that changes the registry key for the USERINIT.EXE file which is what’s used to log you into user accounts.
In the registry, you’ll find the key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindows NTCurrent VersionWinlogon
Within that key, USERINIT should be referenced like this:
C:WINDOWSsystem32userinit.exe, (<–With the comma)
If you’re infected, it most likely points to WINLOGON32.EXE or something else. If it looks right, but you still can’t log in, you might have a corrupted (or missing) USERINIT.EXE file. You can fix this file a number of ways:
- Copy one from another similar machine (Same OS version, same service pack)
- Retrieve it from the i386 folder (either on disc or from the root of your computer if it’s there)
- Run this command after placing your XP disc in the computer: sfc /scannow
You may ask how to edit the registry when you can’t log into Windows! You will need to have a “PE disc” of some sort like Bart’s PE or the Ultimate Boot Disc. PE simply stands for Preinstalled Environment and it allows you to essentially load a temporary OS from a CD or DVD disc to enable you to access the “broken” OS for repairs. You can also use discs like these for data backups and a whole lot more.