Recently a friend of mine, who loaned his laptop out, had discovered later that he could not easily logon due to a userinit.exe error (similar XP error at this forum). He had to use the task manager and create a new task to enter his programs, some which would not open due to the constant application errors. We cleaned out a stack of malware and spyware with the pre-installed Ad-Aware (which was not updated) and cleaned the registry (or supposedly) with various registry cleaners. However errors still remained, such as absent desktop icons, and systems applications not opening.
We believe (and from others on online forums) that the damage had been done. Basically a corrupt registry from spyware intrusion, in particular relating to the user log on registry parameters:
We edited these values in the right pane:
Shell and Userinit to Shell=explorer.exe and Userinit = x:\windows\system32\userinit.exe
We applied the above changes, which removed the login/logon error but resulted in a instant log off - i.e. another error. This suggested either corrupted files (e.g. userinit file) in the windows/system32 folder and their associated or other registry data. We could not find the hidden recovery partition on the drive, and could not restore (i.e. system roll back), even from safe mode. We tried a XP disc for a recovery (i.e. install windows over itself, as we did not want a format and new install because his personal files were not backed up). The recovery restored most applications back - except the sound and video drivers.
However he found the user manual which described how to start up the hidden recovery program, - it was a simple press the F11 key a few times after start up. I think you can also create a recovery disc. We opted for the partial recovery, so as to retain his personal files, and everything was back in order, with a few personal folders created and shifted within windows explorer. If only we had known to do this earlier. But good experience and reminded me of a few things to help prevent the userinit logon error (for XP).
- Back up (visit my post on back up with syncback and drive image xml) personal files, photos, etc perhaps on a USB drive or CD/DVD discs.
- Update spyware, anti-virus, firewall programs and manually run them occasionally.
- Regularly clean out your computer’s excess files, surplus registry entries with something like the free ccleaner and a standalone registry cleaner like Eusings cleaner. Create a restore point before cleaning the registry, or when you are about to install software programs.
- Perhaps inform and educate safe computer internet browsing to other users of your computer.
- Maybe bookmark and print off tutorial trouble shooting sites such as techrepublic (when windows won't boot) or icrontic (repairing windows in eight commands)
- Visit and ask at computer forums for help, and the Microsoft help and support site.
- Importantly get to understand how your hidden recovery program works and how to start it. Also learn how to use your XP disc for booting from for windows trouble shooting (e.g. boot issues, recovery, full install, etc).
Perhaps it's a good idea to learn how to trouble shoot problems that occur with a computer (visit my post on hard drive clean up) and windows systems beforehand, rather than possibly spending a lot of time finding and applying various solutions in frustration. Also perform regular computer system maintenance with well known trustworthy programs (visit snapfiles freeware for the popular downloads) so as to keep or your computer running efficiently while reducing the risk of issues occurring. If you have any ideas or programs that can help running a computer system efficiently, particularly for a userinit windows logon XP error,then perhaps let me know in the comments section...
Links to userinit.exe issues
kellys - korner XP (Registry fixes - Line 263 R/H side)
Microsoft Support (Log on/off issues)
Download Freeware Software Links (Word - 39 kb)