back to article EVE Online update kills Windows PCs

Subscribers to EVE Online are being warned not to touch the latest update to the massive online game because it can damage Windows XP machines. EVE Online is a massive multiplayer online game with over 200,000 subscribers. The Trinity update is an improved graphics engine for the game. The Register received several emails …


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  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. voshkin
    IT Angle


    Oh come on, since when did a missing / corrupted boot.ini necessitated system reinstalls? Just boot with *anything* e.g. live CD’s, NTFS supporting boot disk, or take the hard drive out, stick it in a working computer (or USB enclosure), and.... recreate the boot.ini – it is, after all a text file!

    “”[boot loader]



    [operating systems]

    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect””

  3. matt

    Fix is around and simple.

    EASY to fix. Go here

    Awesome update despite this issue.

  4. Ash

    Only if installed before 4am GMT

    This problem was fixed for people who installed after 4am GMT this morning... it's should be fine now.

    Still, oops. lol.

  5. Chad H.

    Sounds like a former disgruntled emplyee....

    But the questions gotta be asked... How the hell did that get through QA?

  6. Alan Dougherty
    Paris Hilton

    Not the first..

    Un-installing Test Drive Unlimited is worse. It has a 50% chance of deleting EVERY file in your 'c:\'..

    Atari's fix for it? Copy all the files in your root before you un-install, and copy back after..

    And they still haven't patched it after nearly a year.

    Not fun if you didn't know about the issue in the first place.

    Fixing it is easy enough tho.. you can just boot to recovery console from your XP CD and rebuild from there with no re-install. Although you will still have lost every file that was in your root.

    Paris Hilton was the closest icon I could see for 'useless muppets'.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Ahhh but it's pretty

    Yeah - there was a "\" in front of the boot.ini so it went for the root...

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Meta gaming revenge on the goons

    Wonder if there is anything in the EULA about killing the Goons, since most of the EvE Goons (biggest alliance in the games in term of numbers) are US based and the patch was ready for download around 1-2am last night GMT. Some die hard Europe players would have been online (including me, hope Vista 64bit is ok or my PC is toast too), but most US players would have hurried home to install the CCP acclaimed BIGGEST patch of all times!!!

    More of a SMACK than a PATCH by the sound of it. As eve players we are used to buggy code and we have a big heart for the developers, but rebuilding our PC's as part of a clean install might be taking the Need for Speed program (trying to make the game faster when you have lots of players in the same system) a bit too far.....

    EVE is a hardcore game where dead does mean taking steps back rather than a re-spawn after 15 seconds. I'm sure the players and even the goons will manage to return normal operation after a while. On the bright side Jita (a very busy system in the game) will be less flooded the next few days.

    Oh and just for the record, the graphics (all 500MB+ of it) is great!!!

    Kind regards

    Mr BoB

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Easy fix this

  10. Len Goddard


    The problem was active for 2 hours (before the dangerous download was disabled) and affects pre-Vista OS's where the game is installed on the C: drive.

    The complaints thread is 18 pages long and growing almost as fast as you can read it. For an amazing number of people this appears to be the worst thing that has ever happened to them in their whole lives. I hope they remain that lucky. A surprising number seem unable to cope with the simple recovery instructions and demand 1-to-1 support from CCP developers to walk them through the issues. A frightening number seem to have done a destructive reinstall of their entire system.

    It was a dumb bug - attempting to delete a file called boot.ini in the game directory with a bad wildcard search. It should have been picked up in any sensible test. Having said that, no self-respecting OS would allow a vital system file to be deleted in this manner by an application patcher.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    of course its a new tactic for vista.

    well if they can't sell you it on merits alone, they could offer you a system not affected by bad games patches.

    well until they want to force another upgrade then vista, will steal your christmas presents if you uninstall Flatout2

  12. Dave Morfee

    Vista 64 is fine

    Installed the classic and prem patch around 11pm on Wed, have since shut down and rebooted and its fine.

    Vista doesnt use a boot.ini file anymore


  13. Anonymous Coward

    Please refrain from reporting anything about eve :p

    I'm only just getting over my addiction and withdrawal symptoms since i stopped playing in April, so please refrain from mentioning EvE until i have fully recovered.

    Much appreciated.

  14. P. Lee


    ... and THAT is why you shouldn't run apps with admin/root privileges!

  15. regadpellagru
    Dead Vulture

    Yeah, not nice a patch

    Contrary to a lot of commenters, I don't believe most gamers are able to see a failure to reboot of Win XP (or before) due to that stupid patch, and fix it OK.

    At least none of the folks of the villages around me would be able to do that, even if some are players ... And only 5% of them actually have recovery CDs since most dealers don't give them at all.

    Thus, is indeed a pretty crap patch. Where is the icon for QA angle ?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I would suggest /NoExecute=AlwaysOff rather than the default of /noexecute=optin in your boot.ini

  17. Anonymous Coward

    And if you have a laptop....

    remember to change the SATA mode to "compatibility" when trying to boot to Recovery Console off an XP CD, or it'll never want to read your hard drive.

    Oh, and I patched as soon as the game came back up after patching (approx 23:00 GMT on 5 December), then installed the Premium update overnight.

    Cost me waaay too long to figure that one out.

  18. Bryce Prewitt

    How the hell do you get addicted to a spreadsheet?

    EVE Online is about as exciting as TurboTax. Where do you people come from? Is there some special set of psychedelic goggles I was missing when I played? Do they mail you coke from Amsterdam if you subscribe on a pre-paid 12-month plan? I don't see how it's possible to become addicted to a spreadsheet any other way.

    Contracting cancer is more interactive than EVE Online.

  19. Stewart Rice
    Thumb Up

    The reason for the problem...

    Eve has a file in it's main install directory called boot.ini which it reads whenever you start up the game. The patcher was obviously missing a single full-stop ('period' for the yanks) when removing the old files to prepare for the patch, and so removed the root file instead of the game file.

    The problem (as reported) only affects Win XP and older, and only if you patched before 4am. They even posted the contents of a default boot.ini file in-game to allow you to copy/paste into notepad and thus repair the damage.

    Oh and Bryce appears to have been playing Excel-Online and got himself confused.

  20. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Re: oops

    "... and THAT is why you shouldn't run apps with admin/root privileges!"

    ...and THAT is why it is so annoying that installers demand them.

    Of course, in a sane world, there would be a trusted package that you simply fed an "application description" to. It would then decide whether you were proposing sensible installation actions, and a sufficiently interested/competent end-user could vet the action list as well.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Some people are defending this? Seriously?

    I used to be an MMO zealot, but I think even I'd have struggled to defend against such a royal screw up.

    There are people out there who play games without any real IT knowledge who couldn't even reinstall Windows, let alone restore boot.ini, they've be well within their rights to sue for having to take it to a shop to have it repaired for them.

    A mistake like this is incompetence at it's greatest, and I thought GOA and their running of Dark Age of Camelot was bad with their corrupted database problem etc. but this is right up there with that.

  22. Mats Koraeus


    Two things:

    1. Glad I'm playing it on a Mac... but it'll be interesting to see what they do when the Premium Mac version comes out in a couple of months...

    2. Setting proper permissions for your folders is a good thing -- not just for this, but for anything that likes to spew crap all over the place. It sure separates the idiotic apps from the good ones in a hurry...

  23. Robinson
    Thumb Down

    Yes they are idiots

    You people defending CCP for this are living on another planet. We who read technical journals are more than likely technically savvy enough to recognise and fix this problem (you don't say!). A large proportion of the customer base who have this problem WON'T KNOW HOW TO FIX IT and some of them won't even have internet access to go to the forums and find out how, because CPP have hosed their computers.

    The "bug" in the installer was NOTED BY A BUG TESTER 3 DAYS AGO, so CCP obviously didn't read the bug report. I can't say I'm surprised. There are bugs in Eve that were reported 3 years ago and haven't been fixed yet.

  24. Jacob Reid
    Dead Vulture

    @everyone posting so far

    The problem has now supposedly been fixed, and it was caused by a file called boot.ini being used in the EVE directory, the patcher mistakenly thought that it was meant to patch boot.ini in C:\ instead.

    Running not as admin would do nothing as you need to be admin to install the patch in the first place.

    @Chad - it wasn't, just bad coding.

    @Bryce - I see you have never tried it. Yes, part of the game is making billions on the market, but there is nothing like killing that other ship with 4% structure left then escaping just as his friends jump in and try and get you, or running missions, or ratting, or even mining and manufacturing items, plus of course it is an MMO, MMO players have something called friends, maybe you should try getting some one day - this is a reason in itself to play MMOs rather than just sitting there on CS, typing 'lolz noob' into chat every now and then.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Vista has its uses and CCP patch improves user base IQ level - double win win

    Well it dinny effect Vista users, nor did it effect users who have there game/programs on seperate partition to the OS. It effeted those that have XP and run everything on the C drive.

    So basicly it would effect people who dont know what there OS is is beyond PC came with it types, which is kinda nice for me as I dont like socialising with stupid people :D.

    That said its clearly case of somebody using bad file nameing standard and then missing out a slash or putting in that extra space, we know the problem as we have all expereienced it albiet to a lesser extent - well apart from some BOSS of mine who did a rm -f / usr/wibble/woot/deleteme prompting some very intence mental seconds were the whole machines life past us by.

    Still - shit happens and you just have to shovel it. I like this update and the amount of utter morons and idiots ingame is at a alltime low level now. Kudos to CCP for making this patch not only improve the content but also the user interaction experience.

    Still i do feel for those with single computer totaly unaware of what happened as they have no internet access at all now. Though given the game can now do linux there is hopes a livecd distribution may come about, which will be niiice.

  26. Robert Hill

    @Mats Koraeus

    Firstly, thanks to someone for posting this on El Reg, I had installed the blighted update, and was only one re-boot away from causing myself pain. Fix from Windows/pss was easy though.

    But a big GOOD IDEA to Mats, who correctly points out that most of us run Windows with terrible permissions set on critical files. Go into your C:\, and check your permissions for BOOT.INI, CONFIG.SYS, NTDECTECT, AUTOEXEC, etc. You can right click on them to pull up PROPERTIES, then select SECURITY tab. You should configure security so that ONLY Administrator (not even Power Users) can delete or write to or change permissions on those files, but everyone should have read access. And then you should run only in an account that is a Power User, not an administrator.

    This will also help prevent the corrupting of these files from virii and the well as simple mistakes.

    Now that I think of it, I really should do this for all my main executables as well I suppose...and then apply patches as Admin only.


  27. Jacob Reid


    hmm, maybe goons will lose all their space now due to none of their members being able to log in :D

  28. John
    Thumb Up


    Good to see people still crying about the Goonion.

  29. Morely Dotes

    @ Len Goddard

    "The problem was active for 2 hours (before the dangerous download was disabled) and affects pre-Vista OS's where the game is installed on the C: drive."

    Ah, so only the vast majority of people who run Windows and also play EVE (and would stay up as long as necessary to get the latest, and loudly-trumpeted patch) would be affected.

    So that's fine, then, no one in QA should be blamed for causing damage to their customers' installations that, in most cases, will require $100 worth of technical support help (since most of the Windows-using muppets couldn't fix "please insert your Windows XP CD" if you stapled it to their hands).

  30. Eric Kimminau TREG
    Gates Horns

    Trinity says...

    Trinity says... follow the white rabbit.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the vane of E-baying CD's.

    I am going to offer for sale on the auctions (in eve) "Boot.ini 1", its a Tech 1 module and will allow you to run Vista Webber's on your hardware.


  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Robert Hill (just adding additional info)

    Within Explorer you need to go to TOOLS/FOLDER OPTIONS/VIEW and uncheck 'Use simple file sharing (Recommended)' before you'll see the security options you and others talk about. This isn't the default (at least not for me).

    Plus, within the same location (ie folder view options of Windows explorer), people will need to click 'Show hidden files and folders' and untick the 'Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)' boxes also. So just adding to advice for anyone ungeeky enough not to be born with this as innate knowledge and wishing to explore this issue further.


    Some good points made regarding: not everyone HAS a Windows CD as backup since many system builders don't supply them for FREE. Not everyone WANTS to know about computers to the level they know what a boot.ini file is and not everyone cares either. And yes, I believe slopping effects of this kind of poor patching will result in a lot of cost and stress for people who aren't particularly tech savvy etc. Do I care? Nope. More money for people providing tech support though. On a side-note, I wish some people would grow up, take their head out of their arse and have the epiphany that NOT EVERYBODY knows what they fucking know or WANTS to fucking know what they fucking know. Nor should they. People aren't born knowing about computers.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    "The first rule of Patch Day is..."

    "Don't play on Patch Day!"

    That is a quote from the early Asheron's Call forums. This is not a new concept people! If you don't have "the skills" you probably should not be beta testing anything. Or you should have a tech friend image your computer for you before you jump in at least. And rember to bribe them with good beer and food when your box crashes and they have to restore it from the image for you. *grin*

  34. Adam T

    @Paul Gray

    WTF are you sticking Vista on a pedestal?

    Try opening a directory, set it to display files in Modified date, with Group on... wait till 00:01 and create a new file .. it'll tell you the file was created TOMORROW (or Next Week if you do it on a Sunday :p).

    Try right-clicking a folder and zipping it up with winrar ... it creates it, but you won't see it if you have too many windows open, unless you close the window and open a new one...ugh??

    Sack of shite.

    CCP are plonkers for letting this happen, but ce la vie. At least the people it happened to have a superior OS still...

  35. Daniel Winstone

    Learning Process

    This can be seen as a learning experience both by CCP to non geeky Eve players. Some of them (pure mission runners) will be so crazed about this they will finally go back to WoW where they deserve to be, in all its PvE color.

    Saying that though, if you don't know about the boot ini being deleted, and I'm pretty sure it doesn't tell you, how are you supposed to know, unless you play the game for several hours (it was released early) and hear about the possible fhubar.

  36. Michael

    @ Anonymous Coward

    "There are people out there who play games without any real IT knowledge who couldn't even reinstall Windows, let alone restore boot.ini, they've be well within their rights to sue for having to take it to a shop to have it repaired for them."


    I'll direct you to sections 12-15 of the EULA that each player agrees to when installing the game. Full EULA is at Sections 12-15 excepted below:


    The Software, System, Game and all Game Content, and all other services and material provided in connection therewith, are provided "AS IS," with all faults, and without warranty of any kind. You assume all risk of use and all risk associated with accessing the System and playing the Game.

    CCP disclaims all warranties, whether express or implied, including without limitation the warranties of merchantability, fitness for particular purpose and non-infringement. There is no warranty against interference with your enjoyment of the Game. CCP does not warrant that the operation of the System or your access to the System, or that your use of the Software, will be uninterrupted or error-free, nor that the System or Software will be compatible with your hardware and software.

    While CCP attempts to have the System available at most times, CCP does not guarantee that the System will always be available, or that the System will not become unavailable during Game play. The System may become unavailable for a number of reasons, including without limitation during the performance of maintenance to the System, for the implementation of new software, for emergency situations and due to equipment or telecommunications failures.


    In no event shall CCP, its affiliates, licensors or suppliers be liable to you or to any third party for any special, indirect, incidental, consequential, punitive or exemplary damages (including without limitation, lost profits or lost data), arising out of or in connection with your Account, the System, Software, Game, Game Content, User Content, EULA, or any other services or materials provided in connection therewith, whether based on warranty, contract, tort or any other legal theory, and whether or not CCP is advised of the possibility of such damages, and even if any stated remedy fails of its essential purpose.


    Except as set forth below, CCP's maximum liability for any and all claims arising out of or in connection with your Account, the Software, System, Game, Game Content, User Content, EULA, and any other services or materials provided in connection therewith, shall not exceed an amount equal to the value of one (1) month's subscription fees.

    In the event of a material breach of CCP's obligations to provide access to and use of your Account, the System, Game, Game Content or User Content, your sole and exclusive remedy shall be a refund of any pre-paid subscription fees attributable to the period during which you were denied such access and use, or an amount equal to the value of three (3) months' subscription fees, whichever is less. In the event of a malfunction of or your inability to use the CD-ROM containing the Software, your sole and exclusive remedy shall be a replacement disk from the vendor that provided the CD-ROM in accordance with its replacement policy; CCP shall have no liability for the CD-ROM.

    If any of the foregoing disclaimers or limitations of liability are declared to be void or unenforceable, then CCP's liability shall be limited to the maximum extent permissible under applicable law. The remedies set forth herein are exclusive and in lieu of all other remedies, oral or written, express or implied.


    You shall defend, indemnify and hold harmless CCP and its affiliates, licensors and suppliers, and their respective employees, contractors, officers and directors, from any and all claims, loss, damages and demands, including reasonable attorneys' fees, arising out of: (i) your use or misuse of the Software; (ii) your access to the System; (iii) any activities conducted through your Account (whether by you or another person); and (iv) your playing of the Game."

    You could sue CCP, but you'd lose. Badly.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Morely Dotes

    "Ah, so only the vast majority of people who run Windows and also play EVE (and would stay up as long as necessary to get the latest, and loudly-trumpeted patch) would be affected."

    Yes, except all those people (quite a substantial portion) who run properly-configured copies of XP. The one little detail this article and all posts so far fail to point out is that XP, while affected by the issue in that its' boot.ini will get deleted, doesnt suffer the SYMPTOMS of the issue in that even when it's affected, itll still boot fine.

    The reason? XP stores a backup of required system files in \windows\pss any time theyre modified, and if the master copies in the root folder go missing for whatever (as indeed happened with EVE's patch) XP will automatically boot using the backup.

    So no, beyond people screaming about a missing file most of them didnt even know existed until the warning was issued by EVE, the problem *doesnt* really adversely affect that many people because the *vast* majority affected by the issue, wouldnt actually suffer the symptoms of it even if they did restart their systems.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its CCP...

    They had to fuck SOMETHING up - and the update release was just too good for something horribly bad not to happen.

  39. Anonymous Coward


    "The "bug" in the installer was NOTED BY A BUG TESTER 3 DAYS AGO, so CCP obviously didn't read the bug report. I can't say I'm surprised. There are bugs in Eve that were reported 3 years ago and haven't been fixed yet."


  40. RancidM

    where the hell is my boot.ini ?

    Just logged onto EveO and seen about this.

    checking my boot drive and its no where to be seen.

    in all my time in the technical field i have ruined many a boot disk, destroyed applications and general broken at least a small fortune of hardware.

    But never have i seen such a decisive and efficient method of stoping so many systems dead in their tracks.

    CCP i dob my hat in your direction.

    now to fix that missing boot.ini

    i feel maybe another boot disk is going to get some of my McLovins.

    which isnt always a good thing.

  41. lglethal Silver badge

    The funny thing

    All of us with a bit of IT knowledge when confronted by a problem from a non-tech savvy luser have a tendency to tell them "Have you tried turning it off and on again..."

    In this case, that might not work so well...

  42. Stewart Haywood

    The real idiot........ the EVE developer who thought that it was a good idea to call the file boot.ini in the first place.

  43. Fury

    don't play any mmo on patch day.

    Don't play ANY MMO on patch day. This is the number one rule(or should be) for every mmo player.

    The simple fact is, shit happens.

    Yes, it could cost folks money, yes it could screw with business computers, but that's the risk we run with most things on our PC's.

    The internet? A cesspool. Almost every application we use is screwed up in some way. Some affect us more then others.

    CCP makes a good game, and spends a lot of money in an attempt to improve their product.

    I look at it this way. 2 hrs to recieve, confirm, replicate, mitigate damage, repair software, repost it, all while responding to the community is pretty damned good.

    Like I said. Shit happens. I've had to reinstall windows a few times over the past decade due to some game, or application that screwed things up. Usually due to virus's, but that's life. Roll with the punches, or drop for the 10 count.

  44. Anonymous Coward

    various responses

    > recreate the boot.ini – it is, after all a text file!

    Well, if your hard disk has more than one partitions and you do have more than one drive in your computer, you're in for a headache unless you happen to know the magic numbers for multi, disk, rdisk and partition. Isn't it easier to just boot from the XP CD and run bootcfg /rebuild instead?

    > Please refrain from reporting anything about eve :p

    Well, negative news should discourage you from getting back into the game even more, right? :3

    > Try right-clicking a folder and zipping it up with winrar ... it creates it, but you

    > won't see it if you have too many windows open, unless you close the window

    > and open a new one...ugh??

    Eh, I've seen that happen on a XP Laptop that have caught a virus.

    Vista has a virus built in?

    > Now that I think of it, I really should do this for all my main executables as well

    > I suppose...and then apply patches as Admin only.

    Well, that'll make things go full circle anyway, right? Log in as admin, apply flawed patch, flawed patch fubars PC...

    > is the EVE developer who thought that it was a good idea to call the file boot.ini

    > in the first place.


    ...And all these coming from someone who doesn't play EVE Online :P

    Coat, scarf, etc.

  45. Nordrick Framelhammer


    Of course, once you get out of the level 1 mission grinding in the noobie corp you started with and join a corp with 0.0 access for a bit of PVP (player vs player for the non game players out there) then I think you woud find the game is anything but boring. Or you can do a bit of piracy, rememberng of course that a frigate is not going to be able to tank the gate guns.

    The adrenaline buzz as you manage to pop your opponents ship just before your own ship is about to go down is briliant. Gate camping, chasing down the enemy who was foolish enough to wander into your territory. Corp ratting or mining ops with 20 or 30 or more other people around the world, havng a good chat on TS or Ventrillo during lulls in the action.

    Going into enemy territory and spying on them or getting in some guerilla action is all good.

  46. Robinson

    The only exciting thing about Eve is waiting for the next developer screw-up

    Still Nordrick, it's actually paper\scissors\stone combat and usually involves either lag-fest fleet fights, or ganking unarmed or unsuspecting players at gates. Call me old fashioned but that is about as much fun as chewing pebbles.

  47. bambi


    My XP install has been telling me I have a corrupted boot ini file since I installed XP. It still works (if you define works loosly).

    XP is the necesary evil to use EVE, until the linux client runs better anyway.

  48. Daniel

    @ Bambi

    "XP is the necesary evil to use EVE, until the linux client runs better anyway."

    So the fact vista didnt fall over due to this oversight a bad thing?

    Poeple complain about the devs screwing up, but as already stated the fact you can cripple a PC with just removing that single file is amazingly stupid (its not even in the windows folder ffs).

    The only real problem i had was the fact every 30 mins a popup flashed up saying "dont reboot you PC". But that was still coming up 24 hours after the servers came up, the only people left logged in after 24 hours were the isk farmers and the spotty 12 year old forum flaming warriers.

    But even after the problem, eve will do good out of it, and Mr Gates will be happy that Vista wasnt effected :)

    Oh and one more thing VISTA 4TW!!!

  49. James

    Longer than 2 hours.

    The patch was available for much more than two hours, as I had updgraded and was playing by about 10:30PM GMT as they had completed the upgrade early.

    Although I did install it on two XP machines and neither had the problem.

  50. Peter


    Regarding the EULA supplied by EVE, where they deny any responsibility.

    Have these sorts of clauses ever been tried in a court? Can a software manufacturer really disavow any form of liability for what their product does? Could a EULA include a clause stating that if you install the software you agree to hand over all your worldly possessions to the software manufacturer - and could they get that to stick in a court of law?

  51. ryan

    @james "Longer than 2 hours. "

    they pulled the bad patch after 2 hours, and put a good one up shortly after.

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