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Unmountable Boot Volume AND Session3 Initialization Failed

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Old 08-06-2010
Posts: n/a
Unmountable Boot Volume AND Session3 Initialization Failed

I'm running a Lenovo laptop with PGP Encryption Windows XP SP3 SATA hard
drive. This is my work laptop I've had since October 2008 without issue. I'm
somewhat of a low-level techie working permanently from home and my company's
IT Dept is 2000 miles away. But these following errors/BSODs escapes me. Two
days ago, the system stalled and I elected to hard reboot the system. When it
came back up, I logged into PGP login screen as usual and received the 'Safe
Mode' screen options. I clicked 'Start Windows Normally' option, the Windows
Logo boot screen appears like it's gonna load the OS but then it BSODs to
"Session3 Initialization Failed STOP:0x0000006F
(0xC000000E,0x00000000,0x00000000,0x00000000)". Rebooting and selecting any
of the three Safe Mode options and 'Last Known Config' results in the same
BSOD error message. I removed my USB devices and the network cable from
laptop. Only power cable is connected...wireless is disabled. I had some
Lenovo ThinkPad system recovery CDs. Although I've never backed up my hard
drive (HDD), I booted to those recovery CDs. But they did not detect the
laptop's HDD. Hmmm? I select F1 to check if HDD is listed and what order in
boot list. I move it above the CDRom Drive. While in BIOS, I ran a hard drive
diagnostic and the HDD was detected and passed diagnostics!! WooHoo! So I
used a recovery tool embedded in BIOS called ThinkVantage. When I run it, it
gives me three options...1. it takes me back to the BIOS options page, or 2.
connect to an external USB device or 3. reboot PC. I choose to reboot PC
since there's no other changes needed to BIOS and it boots back to the PGP
encryption page. After entering my company password, the next screen gives me
an option to select F11 and enter a 'system recovery mode'. After selecting
F11, I receive...BSOD "Unmountable Boot Volume - STOP: 0x000000ED
(0x89A3E550, 0xC000014F, 0x00000000, 0x00000000)". So I hard rebooted onto a
Windows XP Install CD to run Recovery Console so that I could at least run
checkdisk or fixboot. After selecting 'R' to run Recovery Console, the
Installation prompts me that there aren't any drives installed on the
system!!! If so, how is it that my laptop runs successful HDD diags and the
OS almost boots if I select 'Start Windows Normally/Last Known Config'? If I
plug in an external USB HDD, the Recovery Console detects it as the (C:)
drive. If I unplug external USB HDD, reboot and run Recovery Console again,
the Installation still prompts me that there aren't any drives installed on
the system!!! I've seen this before back in the day using IDE drives. I'd
simply slave it out, mount it and copy corrupt HDD files to new HDD. What
I've found so far is that the Smss.exe file may be corrupted by
virus...that's where Recovery Console comes in right?Is this possible with
SATA? Is there an adapter I can buy to connect HDD to USB port or even if I
do, wouldn't I come into problems with my PGP encryption program? Thanks in
advance for your response(s)!

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Old 08-06-2010
Posts: n/a
Re: Unmountable Boot Volume AND Session3 Initialization Failed

I hope you have not FUBAR'd your system with experimental
troubleshooting methods.

Here is my standard response to your first symptom.

If you mean you are getting a STOP error that says something like:
*** STOP: 0x0000006F (0xc0000034, 00000000, 00000000, 00000000)

The usual culprit is some (poorly designed) antivirus software -
perhaps Avast!, AVG or Avira that has deleted or quarantined necessary
XP files such as the Windows Session Manager file:


I suppose it could have been really infected and quarantined, but that
has never been my experience.

What antivirus software are you running and did you just use it prior
to this incident?

If the files have been quarantined or deleted, you can replace them
from the copies that are already on your HDD, but to do so you must
boot your system into the Windows XP Recovery Console.

Boot into the Windows Recovery Console using a bootable XP
installation CD, or create on a bootable XP Recovery Console CD.

This is not the same as any recovery disks that might have come a
store bought system. If you are not sure what kind of bootable CD you
have, make a bootable XP Recovery Console CD and be sure.

You can create a bootable XP Recovery Console CD when no XP media is
available by following the directions in this link:

There are three possibilities for these missing files that result in
the SESSION3 or SESSION5 type message:

Windows\System32\smss.exe <--most likely, so replace this one first

After booting into the XP Recovery Console, you should be in the C:
\WINDOWS folder. If you are not in the C:\WINDOWS folder you have
some other problem that you need to fix first.

When copying files, you may be replacing existing files with the
copies, so respond in the affirmative if asked to overwrite existing
files. If the copy succeeds, you should see a message that the file
was copied successfully.

In the Recovery Console, from the C:\WINDOWS prompt, enter the
following commands:
cd system32
copy c:\windows\system32\dllcache\smss.exe
exit (your system will restart)

Depending on your system configuration, you may need to copy the files
from another location, so if they are not in the dllcache folder for
some reason, enter the commands like this:
cd system32
copy c:\windows\ServicePackFiles\i386\smss.exe
exit (your system will restart)

If the problem persists, repeat the process for the other two files:
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Old 08-06-2010
Posts: n/a
Re: Unmountable Boot Volume AND Session3 Initialization Failed

Thanks Jose. I have SAV v11. After VPN'ing into company network repeatedly
over 8 months ago to present, Network Admins scheduled SAV to run everyday at
12:02am. My system crashed at 3:11am while browsing the 'Net. But when I run
Recovery Console from a Windows bootable Recovery Console CD (ie, Windows XP
Install CD), the installation prompts me that there aren't any drives
installed on the system.

But the HDD diagnostic I run via BIOS indicates that HDD drive tests just
fine. Any thoughts?
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Old 08-06-2010
Posts: n/a
Re: Unmountable Boot Volume AND Session3 Initialization Failed

Hmmm... sounds like some hardware issue.

You will not get far with the SESSION messages until you can boot on

What does "my system crashed" mean exactly and what did you do after
that to try to get going again?

Was the power button, battery removal or any plug pulling involved?

Did you make that Recovery Console CD or are you using something else
and if something else is not a genuine bootable XP installation CD,
make the RC CD as directed and be sure to test it for bootability in
any other XP machine - like the machine you used to make the RC CD.
You don't need the "what CD should I be booting on or if this CD even
works at all" variable in your equation. Eliminate it.

Is that what the message says when you try to boot on the CD:
there aren't any drives installed on the system

Here come the "slave the hard disk in another machine" ideas (perhaps)
but what you describe sounds more fundamental. It would not hurt to
reseat (unplug/replug) all the connections to and from the HDD if that
is feasible. You must overcome this non booting non recognizing the
HDD situation first, then address remaining issues when you have the
ability to maneuver.

Are you able to provide the system make and model? Maybe somebody
will recognize the symptom or we can look up some HW manuals and maybe
get some idee-ers there.
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Old 08-06-2010
John John - MVP
Posts: n/a
Re: Unmountable Boot Volume AND Session3 Initialization Failed

You need to load the SATA (Mass Storage) drivers to access the disk.
You have to press F6 when prompted early on in the booting process and
you have to supply the drivers on a floppy disk, which will probably be
a problem with your laptop if it doesn't have a floppy drive.

If you don't have a floppy drive to load the drivers you can try to put
the drive in IDE mode (in the BIOS) or you can slipstream the drivers
into the Windows XP CD.
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Old 09-06-2010
Posts: n/a
Re: Unmountable Boot Volume AND Session3 Initialization Failed

Hey Jose. Appreciate help thus far! To answer your question, I have a Windows
XP Install CD...the original CD. No copies.

When I boot to the CD, and opt to select Recovery Console, the CD
immediately prompts me that "...there aren't any drives installed on the
system. Select F3 to exit."

As a test, I reboot the PC onto same CD and simulate formatting drive with
new XP install. Instead of selecting Recovery Console, I select 'ENTER' to
bring up prompt to install Windows XP. Instead, it prompts me that "...there
aren't any drives installed on the system. Select F3 to exit."

When my system originally crashed, I was surfing the 'Net and it simply
dragged (mouse) to a stand-still. Couldn't open Task Manager. So I pressed
the laptop's power button for 2 seconds and it powered down. When I powered
laptop backup, I logged into company's PGP password screen as usual but got
the 'Safe Mode' options screen. I simply clicked on 'Start Windows Normally'
option and it blue screen to Session3 error. After checking BIOS, didn't
change anything, I powered down laptop and reseated its hard drive
thoroughly. I removed all peripheral USB devices and the network cable.
Booted up and still received Session3 BSOD. Then that's when I tried the
recovery option. Granted, I did not change anything nor did I choose to
format the HDD AND if I let the system boot normally, it BSODs AFTER the
Windows Logo boot screen appears. So the OS IS trying to load!! I just wanna
get in a download my Favorites, MyDocs and Desktop files before an inevitable
reimage. Appears the Smss.exe is corrupt. Is there an adapter I can attach to
this SATA HDD to tether to another PCs USB port, mount it and download those

Oh and whenever I'm given the option to select the BIOS system recovery
option after reboot (F11), I receive the Unmountable Boot Volume BSOD.

Its a SATA hard drive in a 2008 Lenovo T61 laptop. Emptied quarantied items
from SAV11 early last week. Thanks again for any advice you all can offer!
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Old 09-06-2010
Posts: n/a
John John could be right about the SATA drivers (Arg!) - they will not
be there to load with your RC unless you interrupt the loading of RC
by pressing F6 when RC is starting and then point it to where your
SATA drivers are. Watch for that message when you boot RC and go
ahead and press F6 (but you still need to come up with the SATA
drivers). I forgot about that part.

Somebody had to have them to install your Windows XP - the tough part
may be finding the correct ones.

They would usually be (or they used to be) on a floppy disk, but if
you have no floppy, no problem.

Use this software to make yourself a "new" XP Recovery Console CD and
you can include all the "extra" files you want on the CD.

Now having these "extra" files on a bootable recovery CD is very
convenient for troubleshooting common problems of malicious software.
I used that program (of course there are other ways) to make a
Recovery Console CD that has other things I am likely going to need to
fix a non booting system, such as:

You just make a new Recovery Console CD that has your SATA drivers in
some folder that will be put on the CD, boot RC, press F6, point it to
the folder on the CD and be on your way (maybe not the first time).

I think all you need to do is replace the smss.exe file - somehow.

Slaving the drive to/in another PC long enough to copy the file(s) you
need may be a more attractive option now, but I have never had to do
that but somebody else can tell you about that probably.

I think you are close to having it.

That is like - totally lame, man. Bogus.. you know what I'm sayin'?

Do you mean you can only F6 and get drivers from the the A drive? It
has been too long since I had to do that.

That is like the second bit of unsettling news I got this week
regarding this operating system.

Felix - if you have a method, just copy the file(s) from the HDD to
your system32.

I think your AV quarantined it. I have fixed this 5 times in the last
2 weeks or so - the missing smss.exe (the first one took a while to
figure out), once apparently by AVG and once by Avira! I think the
file(s) really are infected, but it is rude to quarantine an important
file and not ask me about it.

Move your HDD to another machine, etc. or an enclosure - I don't know
too much about that stuff. You can use some other bootable CD to copy
files, or depending on the quantity, I sometimes just copy them to a
USB thumb drive using RC. That works here for < 32GB, or make
multiple passes.

Maybe I should actually install XP once ina while instead of trying to
fixi it, and I would know/remember some of these irritations.
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Old 09-06-2010
John John - MVP
Posts: n/a
Sorry, but that won't work. Up to and including Windows XP the drivers
*must* be supplied on a floppy diskette, the setup program will not
accept them from any other media source. You can use a USB floppy
drive. The only other alternative is to slipstream them proper into the
Windows XP CD, a search on the net will give further instructions:

It was like that since the earliest NT version and remains the same on
Windows XP and Server 2003, the F6 method for loading mass storage
drivers will only accept drivers from floppy diskette. Vista and newer
operating systems can handle this differently. I haven't verified this
so I'm not 100% sure but I think that an SP2 cd might have the most
common SATA drivers incorporated, maybe someone else knows more about this.

Any one who has ever needed to load SCSI or add-in controller card
drivers when installing these earlier Windows versions hardly ever
forgets the floppy drive requirement. They also get reminded of this
any time they try to use the Recovery Console on these installation as,
like the OP here, once the Windows Setup program is finished booting
they get the same message saying that no disks can be found...

You have to keep in mind that Windows XP was released in 2001 and that
at that time flash drives and cd burners were not all that prevalent,
not like they are today. Also keep in mind that the setup routine for
the operating system is hardly if ever updated or changed after the
operating system has been released, as a matter of fact until Vista the
NT setup program has changed little on the previous versions.

He would have to remove the disk and mount it in another computer (he
will need a 2.5 to 3.5 inch adapter, $5 or less at most computer stores)
or he could use a PE disk. This one should work without needing to add
any SATA drivers: http://www.ubcd4win.com/index.htm

You *really* need to contact your IT department for help with this!
There is no way to fiddle about with this if the whole drive is
protected with PGP encryption, trying to access the disk or files may
only cause more problems or even cause you to lose all the files on the

PGP encryption puts a 'hook' in the MBR, when you boot the hard disk the
MBR hook runs a programs that presents you with the PGP screen so that
you may unlock the disk. Do you actually see this PGP screen when you
boot with the Windows CD? If no then the disk remains encrypted and
there is diddly squat that you will be able to do with the Recovery
Console. The next best thing would be to install PGP on another
computer and then mount the disk on that installation and then see if
you can unlock the disk or remove the encryption on the disk from the
other Windows installation.
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Old 09-06-2010
Posts: n/a
I believe I successfully created a 'slipstream' Windows XP install CD using
nLite. I don't think I have any extra partitions on my (C:) drive either. But
read on and you decide if its relevant or not in what I'm doing per using
both your instructions.

Long story short, I booted to CD, selected F6 and after processing drivers,
the Install asked me to press 'S' to load additional storage drivers(?). One
way or another if I recall, the installation the installation gave me two
options. One was to select 'Enter'. When I did, I was given the Windows
Install and Recovery Console options. I selected Recovery Console and the
system went into DOS. Yippiee! No other external (storage) devices were
attached to my PC but the power cable. Now the hard part.

It gave me a (C:) prompt. So I typed 'Windows' (without quotes) at prompt
and it says..."command is not recognized."

Next at (C:) prompt, I typed "cd windows" and it says..."the path or file
specified is not valid.

Next at (C:) prompt, I typed "DIR" and it says..."Directory of C:\ (space)
An error occurred during directory enumeration".

Next at (C:) prompt, I typed "chkdsk" (without quotes) and it says..."the
volume appears to contain one or more unrecoverable problems".

Next at (C:) prompt, I typed "fixboot" (without quotes) and it says..."the
target partition is C. Are you sure you want to write a new bootsector to the
partition C"?

It's holding at that prompt, I'm nervous and I must admit I've maxed out my
knowledge up to this point? I recall these commands from my days back when
administering Windows NT (blah!!), but can't remember what to do next nor
what to do after that to fix smss.exe file(?) and or get the OS to load like
it used to. I'd like to recover my Favorites, MyDocs and Desktop files bare
minimum. Oh and I'm running a PGP encryption program my company made
mandatory on our laptops. I'm nervous cause I think I'm close to recovery?!?!
(knock-on-wood) If this is what successfully 'slipstreaming' and booting SATA
drive does, thanks too!! What do I do next, fellows? chkdsk or fixboot?

I did to two days ago before submitting this post. There response was
reimage, reimage, reimage. I stalled them and asked for a replacement drive
to be shipped. I can return this corrupt drive at ANY time. In the mean time,
I post here and hopped that I could at most install new SATA drive and use
SATA HDD adapter on my corrupt drive to recover Favorits, MyDocs & Desktop
files...two years worth.

If you're familiar with PGP, when an OS is operational, there's a passkey to
disable it. I could disable it, sure and debug it like I am. But they see
that as a waste of man-hours, so consider me moonlighting while I support my
users from a personal PC using OWA. And how in the world could they help me
especially if I'm at DOS level and can't access OS. I can access my PGP
screen which appears after BIOS loads, but as you know, I can't boot into OS.

When I boot up my laptop as usual, it gives me BIOS options and then the PGP
screen appears. I enter in my company network password and I receive the
'Safe Mode' options screen. I choose 'Start Windows Normally' and the Windows
Logo Boot screen appears and simulate loading the OS as it always has before
my system crashed. The, out of the blue, I get a BSOD...Session3, etc.

When I boot to that slipstreamed Windows XP Install CD, I do not receive any
prompts from PGP nor do I have to login(?). Per the details I provided last,
I'm able to get to the Recovery Console. So you're saying that I can not
'chkdsk' nor 'fixboot'?

A laptop tech sent me a replacement HDD for my model laptop. I haven't
checked it out but all HDDs have PGP on them. I may or may not have to load
it myself. But what I'm gathering you're saying is that I have to remove my
corrupt SATA HDD, apply a SATA adapter or PE Disk(?), insert my new SATA HDD
(not sure if its got PGP installed already) into laptop and connect my SATA
HDD adapter corrupt HDD to my laptop's USB port instead of 'chkdsk' or
'fixboot'? I mean, it's sounds as if I need to disable PGP on my corrupt HDD
after plugging it and the adapter into my laptop and mounting to new SATA HDD
my company has sent me. If not, what options do I have with 'chkdsk' or
'fixboot' in this scenerio?
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Old 10-06-2010
John John - MVP
Posts: n/a
Re: Unmountable Boot Volume AND Session3 Initialization Failed

No, because the disk is still encrypted. When you boot the pc it will
boot to the selected device, either the hard disk or the CD, it can't
boot both at the same time. When you set the computer to boot to the
hard disk the BIOS loads the MBR (sector 0 on the disk) and then passes
the boot process to the MBR. Your PGP encryption program has a hook in
the MBR, it replaced or modified the IPL so that it can present you with
the PGP screen where you can enter your pass phrase which will unlock
the drive and allow the boot process to continue.

When you boot to the CD the BIOS completely ignores the hard disk and
its MBR, instead it loads the boot image on the CD and then passes the
boot process to the boot image, the PGP hook doesn't run and the drive
remains encrypted. So, effectively, you are in a catch 22 situation,
you cannot remove encryption unless you boot with the hard disk yet you
need to boot to the CD to run the Recovery Console but the RC cannot do
anything on the encrypted disk.

To do anything with this non booting encrypted disk you will have to
mount it in another computer with PGP software installed and you will
have to provide the encryption key to unlock it. Or you will have to
somehow remove the PGP encryption and return the MBB to its previous
state. Whatever you do *DO* *NOT* try to run the fixmbr command on this
disk while it has PGP encryption!

Forget about fixboot for now, there is most likely nothing wrong with
the boot sector. If you can unlock the disk you could run a chkdsk on
it from another up and running Windows installation and you could verify
the integrity of the Smss.exe file. As stated earlier you can't do
anything with this disk while it is encrypted. Unless you can mount the
disk to another computer with PGP software and unlock it your IT people
or tech support at PGP are really the only ones who can help. Probably
PGP has a method of removing encryption on non booting disks but it is a
question that you will have to ask them.

You should be able to mount your laptop's SATA drive in any desktop that
has a SATA controller, the SATA connections are the same. Or you can
put it in a USB enclosure and access it with the laptop (after you
install your new hard disk with the new Windows installation in it).
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