blacK Screen of Death (KSOD) for Windows Server 2008

By llee ·
On Sunday, Jan 20, 2013, I installed a number of updates for my office's Windows Server 2008 SP2 machine, and after the reboot, the system had some major difficulties starting up again. I couldn't get in normally or with Last Known Good configuration, and even trying to go in via Safe Mode would simply cause the machine to hang. After using the installation CD to boot up & performing a really long chkdsk, the system found a bunch of errors but finally came online again. Unfortunately, however, it now has the blacK Screen of Death.

I've been looking at tons of threads on Google dealing with KSOD and none of them seem to be very useful; most have to do with systems that are totally unresponsive. From what I can tell, even though I've got a black screen w/ nothing more than a cursor, the OS has booted up & all workstations can access the server fine. That is, Active Directory is ok, the file server is accessible, printer server is fine, etc. I simply can't login or do anything when sitting in front of the server itself. The screen says the usual "press CTRL-ALT-DEL to logon", but doing so simply gives a spinning hourglass symbol for a couple of seconds, and then it goes to that blank black screen w/ cursor. Pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL again gives me the original blue screen (with "Windows Server 2008 Standard" written at the bottom) & a spinning hourglass for a couple of seconds, and then black screen again (i.e., it doesn't ever give me the option to choose Task Manager, or shut down, or logon, or anything else).

I'm guessing something maybe got screwed up w/ the video card drivers, but not 100% sure. And unsure what to try, since I can't safely shut down the server as I can't get to any prompts.

It's Monday, Jan 21, 2013 now & I did attempt one hard shutdown after everyone was off work (i.e. killed the power, waited 15 sec, then rebooted from disc) to attempt some RegEdit suggestions I'd found dealing w/ KSOD (, but that did not resolve it; and I'm weary of performing too many hard shutdowns as rebooting this server takes forever on the machine.

Anyway, I'm open to suggestions as to what to try next... Has anyone ever had this sort of issue & successfully resolved it?

Thanks in advance.

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All Answers

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are you sure

by slam5 In reply to blacK Screen of Death (KS ...

are you sure it isn't a hardware problem? maybe the hard drive as a bad sector? I know it probably will cause more pain for you but can you run something like spinrite and see the health of the hard drive. installing patches may use regions of the drive that hasn't been used before.

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Reponse To Answer

by llee In reply to are you sure

Thanks for the reply.

The company's server is installed on two 1-TB harddrives that are in a RAID-1 array; I imagine if one of the hard drives had a bad sector that was causing problems, I'd be getting errors about the RAID needing to be re-built as opposed to a KSOD issue, no?

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I've seen a few versions of this

by markavo In reply to blacK Screen of Death (KS ...

I've seen a version of this and the Session Manager was acting up as well. The way I got into the system was by pressing the shift key rapidly (more than 5 times) so that the "Sticky Keys" prompt appears. From there you can click on the "ease of access" center link. Explorer.exe didn't load properly after the Session Manager crapped out so I would, after having the ease of access center link loaded, go to the address bar of the Windows Explorer window and type c:\Windows\explorer.exe to launch Explorer. That would get me in but never resolved the KSOD. This has happened to me twice. Once I was able to disable all IPV6 and "large send offload ipv6" on the NIC. The second time I had to track down some windows updates that made changes to IPV6 but were done out of order. I had installed some HotFixes AFTER a service pack and the service pack reset the IPV6 Binary release to an earlier version. I had to uninstall the hot fixes and then download the newer released hotfix that had the proper Binary installed.

I've also had this issue on a few Windows 7 machines but that was caused by folder redirection in Active Directory being done with a logon script instead of through group policy.

None of these may be the issue you ran into but hopefully you get something from these ideas.

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Reponse To Answer

by llee In reply to I've seen a few versions ...

Thanks for the reply.

I actually attempted the "Sticky Keys" method you described to try & get into my company's Windows 2008 Server before posting here in the Tech Republic forums, but was unsuccessful; could not get into the "Ease of Access" link or explorer at all...

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Check your drives

by rbardua In reply to blacK Screen of Death (KS ...

I had the same problem a while ago. Unable to log in at the console or remotely. Black screen with cursor only. It turned out to be a failed hard drive in the array. So, on the same server, I had the same thing happen today. Looked at the hard drives and sure enough there is a failed hard drive in the array again. I have replaced the drive and its currently rebuilding. Ill keep you posted on how it goes. Server is an HP ML370 with Win 2k8 (not R2).

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