Troubleshooting Windows XP SP2 login problems

I tried to install Windows XP SP2. After the installation finished and the computer restarted I could not login because the computer failed to display the login screen. I see just a black screen with a mouse pointer on it. I tried Safe Mode and even the LastGood variant, but the same thing happens. How can I resolve this? I don't want to reinstall the entire Windows system.
I've seen this before and it can be brutal to troubleshoot. You should seriously consider Winternals' ERD Commander. This tool will easily pay for itself given how much time you'd have to spend troubleshooting or restoring otherwise.
This was first published in June 2005

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