I had Windows XP Pro OEM installed on my machine. The disk was failing so I cloned it to a new disk (larger one).

Now Windows said that the hardware has changed significantly and I need to re-activate, and I would gladly do so (got the product number on a sticker on the machine) - only that for running the activation process I need to be logged-in, but when I try to login it just automatically logs me out again.

I know my credentials are OK because I can connect to the machine remotely and also use sysinternals tools such as PsExec or PSList etc. on it from a remote machine by specifying user and password.

Login via safemode does not work any differently then in normal mode...

I tried to run rundll32.exe syssetup,SetupOobeBnk (as suggested in several places on the net) using PsExec but it did not seem to help...

Is there any way out of this evil circle? [ can't log in because not activated - can't activate because not logged in ]

  • How did you clone your old HDD? I've used regedit to delete entries under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SYSTEM/MountedDevices, and then copied contents of partitions using GParted. – sawdust Oct 21 '13 at 2:10
  • I used clonezilla. Why do you need to change HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SYSTEM/MountedDevices? – epeleg Oct 21 '13 at 9:02
  • Because the Windows registry will otherwise contain disk IDs for your old HDD instead of your new HDD. gparted-forum.surf4.info/viewtopic.php?id=14430 – sawdust Oct 21 '13 at 17:08
  • @sawdust - your comment was right on the spot. please post it as an answer and I will comment and accept. – epeleg Oct 27 '13 at 10:28

In my experience, copying a bootable Windows partition byte-for-byte without any modifications to another HDD will not be bootable. I have not seen the login issue that you encountered, but rather the WinXP boot would hang at the blue-background "welcome" screen.

The proper way to copy the Win OS partition involves removing the (old, original) disk ID information stored in the registry. For each Windows logical drive, there are two registry entries under
If any of these logical drives are assigned to partitions on the disk drive that you are replacing, then the two registry entries for those logical-drives/partitions should be deleted.

These registry entries are easily deleted prior to the HDD copy by running the Windows program regedit.
If the partition was copied with the registry intact with the original disk information, then a more complicated procedure for cleaning up the registry after the partition copy is described here.

Windows will rebuild these MountedDevices entries after every boot (using a default ordering), so typically there is no harm in deleting them.

  • On my machine I the original HDD had 2 partitions (C & D). the cloned partitions on the target HDD where mounted as E & G (F was CD ROM). When I removed the original HDD and booted from the cloned HDD it picked up those drive letters (E & G) - so it actually booted from it but all the paths where wrong for it to actually work. I reconnected both drives, used regedit to load Hive e:\windows\system32\config\system and at the MountedDevices key I deleted the values for \DosDevices\C: and \DosDevices\D: and renamed \DosDevices\E: to ...\C: and ...\G: to '...\D:'. – epeleg Oct 28 '13 at 7:03
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    I then removed the original disk. booted and Voilà. I did need however to re-activate over the network but that went o.k. with not special issues. I also recommend diddy.boot-land.net/firadisk/files/mounteddevices.htm as a good source for those seeking to better understand... – epeleg Oct 28 '13 at 7:05
  • Although we and these guides only mention WinXP, I did use regedit on a Windows 7 partition before copying it to another disk just the other day, and successfully booted Win7 from the copy. – sawdust Oct 28 '13 at 8:08
  • And you suggest that next time this entire key can be safely removed before cloning and it will recreate with the new right values for the close when it initially boots. I will keep that in mind. many thanks. – epeleg Oct 29 '13 at 7:23
  • Do not remove the entire registry key. You can delete all the values except the default line. – sawdust Oct 29 '13 at 9:37

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