Error message: can't find Windows system file at all

By danyellalee
Nov 15, 2009
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  1. Hi there,

    I have poked around on this forum and tried to solve my issue (thanks so much to all the folks who post advice here!) but have reached a stuck point and have no clue how to move forward. I'm running Windows XP on a Compaq Presario C307NR Notebook. Here's the issue and the steps I've already taken:

    ISSUE: Firefox froze the computer and we restarted. Upon booting, I get the good old error message: Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM

    So, being resourceful, I found Microsoft's page to fix this solution at:
    support.microsoft.com/kb/307545

    I proceeded to try and do the steps listed there, but once the XP disk loaded, and I tried to select either the Recovery Console or the New install of XP, it said my computer had no hard drives, so it couldn't do anything.

    More searching led me to to a post in this forum that suggested disabling the SATA drivers, which I did, and which worked. Now the disk saw my harddrive install, and with relief I saw that my old install (and presumably all of my files) are still there. Just for some reason Windows doesn't know that.

    I went back and did the steps at the Microsoft link above. Got through the first copy section, the delete section, and then tried to do the last copy section. That's where I got stuck. For some reason, copy c:\windows\repair\system c:\windows\system32\config\system will not work, because the computer still insists it cannot find the c:\windows\system32\config\system file. Which really confuses me, since I'm pretty sure it did copy in the first step.

    What do I do now? I need to be able to get to the files on my drive. Supreme irony for the day is that I just bought an external harddrive, because I knew I needed to backup my files, and was going to do that tonight. Then this happens. Go figure, huh?

    If there is a way to simply access the drive and get all my files, then reinstall Windows, I don't mind doing that at all. If there is an easy-ish way to get the computer back to working again without doing that, I'd love to hear it too.

    Thanks in advance for any help you can give me!!
  2. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,285   +155

  3. danyellalee

    danyellalee Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Thank you!!

    This was perfect! Thank you so much for your suggestion. I successfully downloaded & installed Knoppix, copied my files to my external hard drive, and am now going to reinstall Windows. I really appreciate your help!
  4. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 18,353

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