Systems Engineering and RDBMS

Effectively Repairing Windows 2003 Server

Posted by decipherinfosys on February 16, 2007

Every now and then a Windows 2003 Server’s operating system will become corrupted, and repair procedures to bring the server back online must be initiated. These procedures vary from one organization to the next, but there is one step that all system administrators should add to their checklists if they have not done so already – the Windows repair feature. This feature is accessed by booting the damaged server from the Windows 2003 Server installation CD.

 Repair vs. Recovery

The Repair feature should not be confused with the Recovery Console, which is also accessed from the boot CD. The Recovery Console is a much less comprehensive repair tool, and requires that you  either use a repair (floppy) disk or manually copy files from a CD or floppy to the server’s %Windows% directory manually via a command line. Most of you have probably tried both with limited or no success. The repair disks must be constantly updated to account for changes to the server’s configuration, otherwise the recovery will fail. Manually copying system files is only effective if you know exactly which files are corrupt and need to be replaced, which is nearly impossible. In addition, if dozens or hundreds of files need to be replaced, manually copying them via a command line can become quite tedious.

The option to actually repair the operating system is a little deeper into the Windows installation process. Once the system has been booted with the Windows 2003 installation CD, you will see the option to repair the system via the Recovery Console first, as shown below:

windowsrepair1b.jpg

At this point you will want to select Enter to set up Windows now. After agreeing to the licensing disclaimer you will arrive at the following screen:

windowsrepair2b.jpg

Here you will select “R” to repair the Windows installation. What follows looks suspicously like a full reinstall, but have no fear – it is not. The repair simply overwrites the Windows system files, and will allow the system to recover at least 90% of the time. The repair will save all system and application settings, so you will not need to re-specify the server’s name. In addition,  you will not have to reinstall any of the applications running on the server. The author has personally had success with this repair procedure, and has been able to recover systems suffering from a number of ailments, including damage caused by viruses, TCP/IP stack problems, as well as system files corruption resulting from poorly fragmented disks.

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