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Windows\system32\config\system file is missing or corrupt

Discussion in 'Windows XP' started by jocelynw66, Sep 21, 2008.

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  1. jocelynw66

    jocelynw66 Thread Starter

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    I'm on an older computer with Windows 2000 which has been working fine. Today, in the middle of doing nothing out of the ordinary, I got a blank screen. So I rebooted and was served up this error message: Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM You can attempt to repair this file by starting Windows Setup using the original Setup CD-ROM. Select 'r' at the first screen to start repair. I don't have the Setup disc but I do have the original program disc - but it wouldn't read it and keeps giving me the same error. I can't even start is Safe Mode. Any ideas?
     
  2. Timmy69

    Timmy69

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    wouldn't read?
    check BIOS to make sure you have set boot priority to CD first
     
  3. jocelynw66

    jocelynw66 Thread Starter

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    Thanks - I was able to get the computer to boot Windows 2000 Setup from the CD. I then selected 'r' to Repair - but got stumped after that. I'm guessing I should select "c" to repair from the console, but I don't know what command to use. Any ideas?
     
  4. Timmy69

    Timmy69

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  5. TheOutcaste

    TheOutcaste

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    Unfortunately Win2K does not have System Restore, so that article won't work.

    And just a FYI, that article won't work for XP either as it assumes you've already enabled the the Recovery Console SET command from within Windows (hard to do when you can't boot), and enter SET AllowAllPaths = TRUE after logging into the Recovery Console. They also left out a key warning about using that procedure on OEM computers from the Microsoft XP article that describes the correct steps. The Update section vaguely refers to the pre SP1 Sysprep issue that keeps you from logging into the Recovery Console, but that only keeps you from getting into the Recovery Console in the first place. Has nothing to do with not being able to get back in after copying the hives from the repair folder on SP1 or later OEM systems.


    I would first run chkdsk /R from the Recovery Console prompt, that might be all you need to do. This can take several hours to complete.
    If that doesn't resolve the issue, try the steps in this MS article:
    Windows Could Not Start Because the Following File Is Missing or Corrupt: \Winnt\System32\Config\Systemced

    Note: There is no warning in this article like the one in the Microsoft XP article, so hopefully that warning doesn't apply.

    To follow the steps in the section Reduce the Size of the System Hive you would have to boot with an Ultimate Boot CD for Windows (or *nix Live CD with appropriate tools) or connect the drive to another PC so you can access the registry files to do the changes they suggest.

    You will need install device drivers for hardware that has been added or updated since the registry was backed up (if using the regback folder) or since Win2K was installed (using repair folder).

    The article uses the default Windows folder for Win2K of Winnt -- looks like yours is Windows, so be sure to use the one that is correct for your system (When you enter the Recovery Console, the prompt will display the correct Windows folder name)

    Info on the Recovery Console is is here

    As always, backing up your data first using a Live CD or by connecting the drive to a different PC is always a good idea.

    Live CDs
    Ultimate Boot CD for Windows
    Knoppix
    Ubuntu

    HTH

    Jerry
     
  6. jocelynw66

    jocelynw66 Thread Starter

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    The chkdsk command on the Recovery Console did say if fixed some records. But I still can't boot windows. I'd like to back of the drive before I do anything else. How exactly do I do that? How do I connect the drive to a different PC?
     
  7. thebrownone

    thebrownone

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    Do you have a Windows XP disc around that matches the version you have installed? If so, I would boot off the CD and go past the option for the recovery console. When you proceed to view currently installed versions of Windows, you should be able to select your installed version and hit "R" to automatically repair the installation.

    Also, it may not be a bad idea to run RAM/HD tests. I've seen many times where failing hardware causes issues like this.
     
  8. thebrownone

    thebrownone

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    Oops, I meant Windows 2000 Pro disc
     
  9. TheOutcaste

    TheOutcaste

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    You have to physically remove it from this PC. As you've said it's an older system, it's most likely an IDE hard drive (has a wide Data cable with 40 connectors and a 4 pin power connector), rather than the newer SATA drives (narrow Data cable with 2 connectors - may be integrated with a 7 pin power connector), which means it has a Jumper to determine if the drive is a Master or a Slave. The settings are usually marked on the drive label. There is also a Cable Select position.

    I'm also assuming it's a desktop, not a laptop.

    To connect it to another PC you just have to connect the Power and Data cable (with Power Off of course) to the other PC (doesn't have to be physically installed, just make sure nothing is touching the circuit board on the hard drive, and the hard drive case doesn't touch anything on the other PC but the case). How to set the jumper depends on just where you connect it, and if the other PC's drives are set to Cable Select, or Master/Slave. If Cable Select, just jumper this drive for Cable Select and connect it.

    Older PCs have two IDE ports on the Motherboard (Primary IDE and Secondary IDE), each can have 2 devices connected. A typical setup would be a hard drive on the Primary controller as Master, and a CD/DVD drive on the Secondary controller as a Master. So this drive could be connected to either IDE controller, but would have to have the jumper set to the Slave position. If you don't need the CD/DVD drive to burn your data to disc, you could disconnect the CD/DVD drive and connect this drive without needing to change the jumper.

    Newer systems that use SATA drives may only have one IDE port -- it may be unused if it has a SATA CD/DVD drive. If so, you could probably connect this drive without changing the jumper. It's possible the Boot Sequence in the BIOS is set to IDE first, which would have been ignored since nothing was connected. So if it tries to boot to this drive, the boot sequence in the BIOS needs to be changed.

    Another option would be to purchase an external USB enclosure, then put this drive into the enclosure. Then you just plug it into the USB port on the other PC. Just be sure the size matches (Laptop usually 2.5", Desktop 3.5") and the Internal Interface is correct (IDE or PATA, not SATA)

    A Live CD is an easy option to copy the data to another PC over a network connection, or burn it to CD, without having to open up the PC, but for the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows you need access to a WinXP CD, and the Linux versions may have a steeper learning curve than physically moving the drive will, depending on how mechanically inclined you are.

    HTH

    Jerry
     
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