XP Activation Loop - Help!

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Thread Starter
Oct 1, 2003
Hi there!

I have performed minor surgery on my system and have entered into a deeply disturbing discussion with the XP Operating System.

What I did...
Existing system, WinXP Pro - Fully licensed - Install + Data = 13gB
Imaged existing drive to spare HDD (Used imaged drive as primary drive to ensure copy would boot and run. Everything worked fine and operating OK)
Restored original HDD and rebooted - All OK
Upgraded to SP1a - All OK
Installed extra RAM - All OK
Installed new Video Card - All OK
Installed new DVD ROM - All OK
Installed backup drive as Slave Drive on 2nd IDE bus - All NOT OK!

Rebooting the system came up with the ever faithful MS XP activation wizard telling me that I had made changes that required re-activation. I'm reasonable and said yep, go ahead and activate over internet now. It did it's dial up thing and after a moment or two said that the system was now activated please enjoy your new environment.

Rebooted system after a tidy of cables etc.
At user logon screen after entering logon info the system said I was unactivated and I would have to activate now!! I agreed (who am I to argue with such sophisticated technology!) and it started the activation wizard.
The activation wizard in it's infinite glory said that the OS was already activated and promptly sent me back to the logon screen where I entered my logon info again and it said that my copy was not activated and.......
This daft loop happens for user and admin logons and I was unable to get it to progress beyond!!.

I removed the slave drive, extra RAM, new card but all efforts failed.

I've booted from CD, used the repair console to attempt to fix the system.

I've re-installed XP over the top of the existing install - that was great, I ended up with a new boot drive (G:) that I could boot to.

I then noticed that I had a C: drive and a G: drive in explorer. They are the same drive!! All changes to either drive are made to both. Attempted to see where the disk mapping was happening, even asked the registry to tell me stories. No Joy.

Applications that access the original boot drive don't work as they have data paths that point to the wrong drive letter.

Did a global replace of all G: to C: in the registry and edited boot.ini to boot from C:..
Reboot OK... C: now root drive, G: still exists and I am unable to rid myself of it. But I'm at least happy to have a system to work with.

Tested essential applications and all work properly (Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Pagemaker, ACDSee, Acrobat 6.0).

Tested semi-essential applications (Microsoft Office) and did not have a happy experience.

Uninstalled and re-installed MS Office Pro (Legal Fully Licenced!)

Rebooted system and all appeared to be working fine.

Unable to setup internet network connection, (dial up) as new network connect wizard has dial-up option greyed out
Checked modem config and re-installed modem (external USR 56K).
Rebooted system - Logon now says XP unactivated and I'm back into a deja-vu loop.

Anyone out there got any other ideas I might have missed to correct this stupidity before I sling the offending machine off the balcony and go buy myself a Mac G5 with the insurance money??

This message is being written from a spare system drive I have installed that has a minimal XP install running OK. (Hassle is it's a 2.4gB drive and cannot hold all my apps).

Mar 28, 2001
Search for this file on Microsoft's site: Q811632_WXP_SP2_X86_ENU.EXE

Download it and install it and see if that helps.


Thread Starter
Oct 1, 2003
Will try that, but I have a sneaky feeling I have no way that I can run the SP2 exe until I get logged in, and of course I have this damnable "XP is unactivated / Activated" loop to contend with...

<grin - slightly manic now>

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