Missing or corrupt: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM #
Confronted with the rather unpleasant sounding "Windows XP could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM", Google turned up the following KB article: How to recover from a corrupted registry that prevents Windows XP from starting. Two potential problems:
So instead, the following was attempted, which miraculously worked (YMMV):
- "Do not use the procedure that is described in this article if your computer has an OEM-installed operating system." (it did)
- "This article assumes that typical recovery methods have failed and access to the system is not available except by using Recovery Console." (sounds ominous)
Back to the Desktop, a system restore to several days prior was performed for good measure. Everything working beautifully.
- Boot system via BartPE
- BACKUP DATA!!!
- Move c:\windows\system32\config\system, software, sam, security, and default to temporary directory
- Copy (not cut) and paste those same 5 files back to their original location
- Reboot computer
UPDATE 1: Stephen kindly wrote in with the following advice:
There are 2 reasons that come to mind why what you did worked.
UPDATE 2: Jeff Harrison offers another explanation as to why this might have worked:
I don't see how simply moving and recopying the files would repair them otherwise.
There is another utility called Registry Restore Wizard to copy the registry from the system restore using BartPE.
- The files were crosslinked, in which case a chkdsk /f is in order.
- There are bad sectors on the hdd, in which case a replacement drive is in order.
The reason for the error message above is HEAVY fragmentation of those registry files and this is also why copying the files from A to B and back to A helps in this case. It's not really a "mystery", Windows just reacts somewhat picky when booting. The error was already known on Windows 2000 by the way. A good thing to do is to regularly defrag those files when necessary, an easy way to do so is by running the PageDefrag utility from
/windows | Oct 29, 2005
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