Q

Why do my Windows 2000 servers not boot up on their own after a power failure?

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My Windows 2000 servers come down orderly and properly when power fails longer than UPSs can supply backup power. When the power comes back on, they are not operational because Windows does not do a complete bootup until a warm body comes over and logs in to complete the bootup process. That leaves systems in an unuseable state if not being babysat 24/7. Is there a way around this?

My first observation would be this: The behaviour you describe is normal for Windows NT/2000 operating systems, and is not something "wrong" with your particular machine, per se. All NT/2000 machines, both server and workstation, will boot as far as the login screen and then wait for human interaction.

The main question here is this: What is running on this server that is inaccessible if someone is not interactively logged in? All NT services will start upon boot-up even if a user does not log on. If you have an application running on this server that requires an interactive logon, you have a few options.

a. Use a third-party utility or the NT Resource Kit's INSTSRV.EXE and SRVANY.EXE to convert the executable into a service that can be started, paused, stopped, etc., like any other NT/2000 service. If you are in an Active Directory-enabled environment, you can also investigate using Group Policy to create a startup script (as opposed to a login script) on your servers.

b. DISCLAIMER: This option should be used as a method of the ABSOLUTE LAST RESORT, as it has the potential to create a LARGE security liability on your server (I wouldn't even bring it up, because I hate it just THAT MUCH, but it IS an option available to you if you absolutely cannot find another way to do what you need to do.): Configure your servers to automatically log in at startup. This involves a registry hack, the instructions for which can be found at http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q310584. All usual disclaimers regarding registry editing apply, and the security implications of this option must be SERIOUSLY considered before implementation.

This was first published in June 2002

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