Windows XP Log on, Logging Off Problem (Karate Kid Edition)

Here is a new one.

A client had a computer where when she went to log in, the desktop picture would flash, and then it would immediately go to “logging off…” back to the startup screen.  This would happen in safe mode as well as standard mode.

As one would suspect, her machine was virus infected.  Here were the steps I took to fix it.

  1. Boot into Recovery Console from a Windows XP disk.  Having one that was of the same Service Pack is needed.
  2. Check under C:\Windows\System32 to confirm that userinit.exe is missing.
  3. Run this command:  copy d:\i386\userinit.ex_ c:\windows\system32\userinit.exe, assuming that D is the CD drive, and C is the boot drive.  Your mileage may vary.
  4. Restart
  5. Assuming all is well, run Malware Bytes with the latest updates, as well as ComboFixWARNING:  Use of ComboFix has the potential to damage your OS install, but I have yet to have it cause an issue.  Also, restart inbetween each scan job.
  6. Update the machine with the latest MS patches and AV software.

Note; this particular virus ruined Microsoft AutoUpdates, and this fine Wiki helped me find the answer, although the “C:\Winnt…” didn’t apply, as that path wasn’t available.

Good luck!

This entry was posted in Tech Fixes and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Windows XP Log on, Logging Off Problem (Karate Kid Edition)

  1. Dan says:


    I have the log on/log off problem also. It began after I deleted files that were identified by a malwarebytes scan. I’ve had great luck with malwarebytes in the past, so I don’t know if this caused the problem or not. I have the same problem in safeboot. At any rate, I tried your method as discussed in step 3 from the recovery console. I got a message that the file was copied, but I still have the logoff problem. I then tried “expand” rather than “copy”, as suggested at some other sites, but I still have the same problem. I was pleased that I was even able to get into the recovery console since my computer skills are limited. At any rate, if you have any other suggestions, I sure would appreciate it as I am at my wits end. One thing that might be a clue … you mention that the same Service Pack is need. I have updated to Service Pack 3 over the years, but my original XP disk is for Service Pack 1. Since it was able to copy/expand, I’m wondering if the SPack 1 disk might be adequate.


  2. Ben says:

    It looks like you will have to create (or have one created for you) a XP SP3 Slipstream disk. Directions can be found here:
    You need to have the same servicepack on both the system and the CD.

  3. Dan says:

    Thanks for your prompt reply. I’ll give that a try.

  4. Barry says:

    Hi guys,

    Pulled my hair out for ages after log on log off problem XP.
    Found your blog, with the fix.
    5 minutes max, followed your instructions. Job done.

    Many Thanks
    Barry Hourihane
    Copthorne West Sussex England

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>