Arrrghh! XP won't boot!

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Thread Starter
Oct 5, 2008
windows\system32\config\system missing or currupt!

I've tried to reboot with orig. load disc + same message. I've tried to start up in safe mode = same message... ANy ideas? Thanks, Cindy:)
Aug 7, 2007
Welcome to TSG!

Saw from your duplicate post here that this is an HP laptop, so wanted to make sure you note the warning from this article that might apply to your laptop:

If you've ever run the Windows Backup utility and saved the system state, then the warning won't apply, as the repair folder will contain updated copies of your registry that will work.

One workaround to this is to do the repair from a different PC. I've written the following guide to describe the procedure:

How to restore the registry from a system restore point by connecting the drive to a 2nd PC.

  1. Connect the problem hard drive as an internal drive to a working PC. You can also use an external enclosure.
    I'll refer to the problem drive as drive D: in this procedure.
    Change the letter as needed to match whatever drive letter it is shown as by the working PC.
  2. Open Windows Explorer (right click My Computer, click Explore)
  3. Change View Settings to make sure hidden and system files are visible:
    • In Windows Explorer, click on Tools | Folder Options -> View Tab
    • Check the following:
    • Display the contents of system folders (not present in Win2K)
    • Show hidden files and folders
    • Uncheck the following:
    • Hide extensions for known file types (WinXP)
    • Hide file extensions for known file types (Win2K)
    • Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)
  4. Double click the D: drive in the left pane of Windows Explorer
    We now need to take ownership of the System Volume Information folder shown in the right pane. Follow the steps from this article: How to take ownership of a file or folder in Windows XP
    Once done, double click the System Volume Information folder in the right pane.
  5. Double click the _restore{... folder in the right pane(there will be a bunch of numbers/letters after the {, different on each system)
  6. Click on the View menu, then on Details
    You should see a list of folders named RPxxx, where xxx will be a number.
  7. In the right pane, click twice on the Date Modified column heading.
    This will sort the folders by date with the newest one at the top.
  8. Check the dates of the folders, and find one with a date BEFORE you made the changes that caused the system to stop booting.
  9. Double click on the RPxxx folder selected above
  10. Double click on the snapshot folder in the right pane
  11. In the left pane we need to make D:\Windows\system32\config visible:
    • Click the plus sign in front of D:\Windows
    • Click the plus sign in front of D:\Windows\system32
    • Scroll the windows as needed so that D:\Windows\System32\Config is visible in the left pane.
  12. Copy the following files to D:\Windows\System32\Config by dragging each one and dropping it on the D:\Windows\System32\Config folder in the left pane:
  13. Now, click on the D:\Windows\System32\Config folder in the left pane
  14. Rename the following files (highlight each file and press F2, then edit the name):
    • Rename DEFAULT to DEFAULT.bak
    • Rename SAM to SAM.bak
    • Rename SECURITY to SECURITY.bak
    • Rename SOFTWARE to SOFTWARE.bak
    • Rename SYSTEM to SYSTEM.bak
  15. Now rename these files:
    • Rename _REGISTRY_USER_SAM to SAM
  16. Replace the drive into the original PC. It should now boot.
  17. Try to do a System Restore to the same date you picked above.
    This procedure only replaces the registry hive, not any system files, so there is a chance that previous restore points will no longer work, as System Restore may detect inconsistencies if there were any major changes.

Once you are satisfied that the system is working correctly, you can delete the *.bak files from D:\Windows\system32\config
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