Recovering from failed system drive with nondefault %SystemRoot% folder

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Article ID: 235478 - View products that this article applies to.
This article was previously published under Q235478
For a Microsoft Windows XP version of this article, see 315242.
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SUMMARY

When you install Microsoft Windows 2000 or Microsoft Windows Server 2003 by booting from the Windows installation CD-ROM or, for Windows 2000, from the four Setup floppy disks, Setup does not prompt you for the name of the target installation folder or allow you to change this name. The default installation folder for Windows 2000 is Winnt. The default installation folder for Windows Server 2003 is Windows. The default installation folder cannot be specified or changed during Windows Setup except in the following situations:
  • The Winnt or Windows folder already exists.
  • You perform an unattended installation and specify the "TargetPath=" parameter in the answer file.
  • You run Winnt32.exe from a working copy of Microsoft Windows NT, Windows 2000, or Windows Server 2003 and change the location in the Advanced Options settings.
The inability to specify the installation folder during Setup is usually not a problem, unless you have a system/boot drive failure or you have to reformat the original boot partition to reinstall Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003. For a full system restoration to work properly, you must have Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003 installed in the same drive_letter:\%SystemRoot% folder as the original, and then perform a full restoration to the original location, which would be on top of the newly installed Windows 2000 or Windows 2003 Server installation.

Note Windows Backup (Ntbackup.exe) does allow you to restore to an alternate location, but it does not restore the "system state" in a form that will return the system to a working condition. This is because of the way the system state is collected and then processed later during the restore operation. If your original %SystemRoot% folder was not Winnt because you upgraded a previous installation of Windows NT that was located in a different folder, there is no way to perform a full recovery without first getting Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003 reinstalled in a folder with the original folder name.

MORE INFORMATION

Use one of the following methods to assist in reinstalling Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003 in an alternate %SystemRoot% folder.
  • Perform an unattended installation using an answer file. Unattended installations allow you to define the installation folder using the "TargetPath=WINDIR" parameter. This can even be accomplished while booting from the Windows installation CD-ROM as follows:

    Using Notepad or another text editor, create a file called Winnt.sif containing the following parameters, and then save the file to a floppy disk. Make sure the file name is Winnt.sif, and does not end with a .txt extension.
    [Unattended]
    UnattendMode=GuiAttended
    OemPreinstall=No
    TargetPath=OLDWINDIR <-Match the original folder name.

    [data]
    unattendedinstall=yes
    msdosinitiated =0
    Boot from the Windows installation CD-ROM while the disk containing the Winnt.sif file is in drive A. Windows Setup then reads the Winnt.sif file and uses the folder name specified in the "TargetPath" parameter instead of the default Winnt folder.

    For additional information, please click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
    216258 How to Perform Unattended Windows 2000 Installation from CD-ROM
  • Use the Windows Recovery Console to create and format the new system/boot partition, and then create a Winnt or Windows folder. When Windows Setup encounters the Winnt or Windows folder during Text-mode Setup, it prompts you to overwrite it or press ESC to use a different folder. Press ESC, and change the folder name to match your original %SystemRoot% folder name, and then continue with the installation.
    1. Boot from the Windows installation CD-ROM or the four Setup floppy disks, press R to repair, and then press C to start the Recovery Console.
    2. Use the DISKPART command to partition a new drive.
    3. Use the FORMAT command to format the partition. For example:
      format drive: /q /fs:file-system (FAT, FAT32, NTFS)
    4. Use the MAP command to display the arc path for the new partition and use it in the next step for the "TargetDevice=" entry.
    5. Using Notepad or another text editor, create a file called Setup.log containing the following parameters, and then save the file to a floppy disk. Make sure the file name is Setup.log, and does not end with a .txt extension.

      Note Make sure to modify the "TargetDevice=" line below to match your hardware configuration, specifying on which disk\partition you want the Winnt folder to be created. Display this information using the Recovery Console's MAP command in the step above.
      [Paths]
      TargetFolder = "\WINNT"
      TargetDevice = "\Device\Harddisk0\Partition1" <- Set to your hardware configuration.
      SystemPartitionFolder = "\"
      SystemPartition = "\Device\Harddisk0\Partition1"
      [Signature]
      Version = "WinNt5.0"
      [Files.SystemPartition]
      NTDETECT.COM = "NTDETECT.COM","1805e"
      ntldr = "ntldr","35567"
      [Files.WinNt]
    6. Boot from the Windows installation CD-ROM or floppy disks again, press R to repair, press R to repair using the "Emergency Repair process," and then press M for manual repair. In the next screen, clear all the choices except Verify Windows System files, and then select Continue. When you are prompted for the Emergency Repair disk, insert the disk you created in step 5 and press ENTER to continue. This creates a Winnt folder and then quits.
    7. Boot using the Windows installation CD-ROM or floppy disks and perform your new installation. Remember to press ESC to select your new installation folder name when the time comes.
    For additional information, please click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
    810562 How to start Setup from MS-DOS in Windows Server 2003
  • Using an MS-DOS or Windows 95 or Windows 98 Startup disk, create a FAT or FAT32 partition on the new system/boot drive, and then create a Winnt folder. Boot using the Windows 2000 installation CD-ROM or floppy disks or the Windows Server 2003 installation CD-ROM, and start your new installation. When Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003 Setup encounters the existing Winnt or Windows folder, it prompts you to overwrite it or to press ESC to use a different folder. Press ESC and change the folder name to match your original %SystemRoot% folder name, and then continue with the installation.

    Note If you require a partition using the NTFS file system, you can use the convert.exe drive_letter: /fs:ntfs command after the installation is complete, but before you perform a restore from your last good backup. This retains your NTFS file and folder permissions that were assigned before the drive failure.
  • Install the drive on or move it to another computer running Windows NT, Windows 2000, or Windows Server 2003, create a partition, format it, and then create a Winnt folder. Move the drive back to the original computer and start Setup from the Windows 2000 installation CD-ROM or floppy disks or from the Windows Server 2003 installation CD-ROM. When Windows Setup encounters the existing Winnt folder, it prompts you to overwrite it or press ESC to use a different folder. Press ESC and change the folder name to match your original %SystemRoot% folder name, and then continue with the installation.
After successfully installing Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003 in a folder with the original drive_letter:\%SystemRoot% folder name, use Windows Backup (Ntbackup.exe) to perform a full system restoration (including the system state) using the latest backup tape. Choose to restore to the original location. This should return Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003 to a working state.

Properties

Article ID: 235478 - Last Review: October 26, 2007 - Revision: 4.4
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional Edition
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