Randomly appearing: missing or corrupted "windows/system32/config/system"

By thatonedude21
Oct 11, 2009
Topic Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. I've read a ton of posts with people that are saying they are running into this error whenever they try and boot into Windows. For me, it sometimes happens when I try to boot into Windows, and it sometimes doesn't happen. Whenever it does happen, I just push the reset button on my computer and hope that it boots into Windows. There is about a 50% chance that I'll run into this error every time I turn on my computer. Whenever I do get into Windows, though, everything runs just fine...except for one thing. My Control Panel will randomly crash. Other than that, it performs just like the computer I built it to be. Now, this problem started happening whenever I decided to overclock my PCI-E slot. I wanted to try and squeeze a little more performance out of my XFX 4870 1GB GPU, and that overclock made a noticeable difference. Everything had been going completely fine until, one day, I decided to turn on my computer from Hibernation (I ALWAYS put my computer into Hibernation - never had a problem with doing it and I've been doing it since 2001). The computer suddenly gave me the error message in the title. It said to do a Windows Repair Install (which I'm not doing since losing my data and program settings isn't an option) but I, instead, turned it back off and it gave me the option to delete the Hibernation data and boot normally into Windows. I did that and I went into Windows without a problem. After a while though, the problem became more and more common, so I stopped putting the computer into Hibernation, only to find out that it didn't solve anything. I thought that maybe the PCI-E overclock was to blame so I set it back to normal. Didn't solve it (although my normal boot/error boot percentage isn't moving anymore). I read around and some people suggested that PCI-E overclocks can corrupt SATA hard drives, so I did a complete hard drive check using Hiren's Boot CD 9.9 (no quick scans of any kind). I got nothing but positive results. I'm at a complete loss as to what I need to do to fix this problem. Right now, it is just a minor annoyance, but I'm afraid it'll become some bigger problem and I want to fix it right now. THANKS WILL BE GIVEN BEYOND ANYTHING THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE CAN MAKE!!!!
  2. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,285   +155

    Curious that sometimes it happens and sometimes not

    Given you'll already checked your HD i'd suggest
    > Make sure you are virus free. You might want to run thorough virus scan as well as run HijackThis and post a log in the malware forum for review
    > Do you have the install CDs? You might also try a Windows repair install if your windows installation is corrupt this may fix the problem. (but be sure to do a full backup first just in case of issues)
  3. thatonedude21

    thatonedude21 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    I've ran several antivirus and antispyware programs and none of them have found a virus. I'm over 100% sure that this problem isn't virus related. A Windows Repair Install will delete a lot of my program settings and I am not going to go through the trouble of reinstalling all of my programs.
  4. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,285   +155

    We might check for another opinion. It's my understanding (and recollection) that the reinstall should reinstall Windows OS software and reset your default Windows settings but shouldn't affect your other program software.
  5. raybay

    raybay TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +6

    That is true, LookinAround, when using R for repair instead of Repair Console.
    However, be sure to create a backup before you begin. Some (a very few) corrupted installs may cause you to lose data, so a backup of important stuff is wise.
  6. thatonedude21

    thatonedude21 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    LookinAround:

    That is true to an extent. A repair install won't mess with your programs, but any program that has data in the registry and won't run or function properly without that data is pretty much lost. Most of my programs are like that.
  7. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,285   +155

    "Ain't nothun' 100% for sure when it comes to computers"

    That said...
    1) Every installed program has data in the Windows registry (that;s how Windows Installer works and at minimum, knows how to uninstall when needed)
    2) A Windows repair shouldn't affect your application program data in registry. It should only affect the Windows OS data itself, e.g. services, policies, etc.

    So
    1) Are you speaking from some prior incident? or your impression?
    2) If you do decide to do a repair, another method to be cautious and CYA is to first "clone" your hardrive. Thus, if the repair doesn't turn out the way you like, you can still restore to the drive as it was before the repair. EASUS has a freeware tool for HD cloning. I, personally, like and use Acronis True Image (about $50USD)
  8. thatonedude21

    thatonedude21 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    I'm speaking from a prior incident and also from what friends of mine have encountered after doing a repair install. I have a friend that has Acronis and he could clone the drive for me. Only problem is, I do not have another drive to clone everything onto. The only spare drive I have is 80GB, and my current hard drive is 500GB (400GB already used). I really don't want to spend any money if it isn't necessary.
  9. raybay

    raybay TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +6

    We perform repair or rescue of a lot of hard drives... over 1200 a year. It is extremly rare that an "R" repair does any damage, and we have only incidental damage to registry and related issue. We have had problems that caused the loss of some data on a few drives... probably no more than five... but it does happen... so we make backups when it is possible to do so.

    As for ThatOneDude21, hard drives are cheap... 500 GB SATA cost us less than $51 at Directron, and others. $51 is a cost of repair... 160 GB can be found for $42 EIDE or SATA... $42 is a cost of using a computer. A spare drive or two is as much a requirement to computer use as a power supply.
    When you are using that 500 GB drive, it is FULL when there is 17% or less free space... that is 85 GB... When you have less than 17%, you are risking your data... so you are might close.
  10. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,285   +155

    17%??? No, no, no, no.

    1) 17% of 500GB = 85GB! You don't need min 85GB free space on a 500GB for XP!
    2) The amount of free space required is not a function of how large the drive size
    3) In fact, good rule of thumb is closer to at least 1GB. No matter the drive size.
  11. WinXPert

    WinXPert TechSpot Booster Posts: 525

    Have you tried checking for errors and bad sectors
  12. thatonedude21

    thatonedude21 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Yes, I have checked for those. My hard drive appears to be just fine.
  13. WinXPert

    WinXPert TechSpot Booster Posts: 525

    How about your cable connection is it tight. I once encountered BSOD on a slightly loose cable.
     
  14. WinXPert

    WinXPert TechSpot Booster Posts: 525

    Try the Recovery Console

    c:
    cd windows/system32/config/system
    attrib -r -s -h *.*
    del .
    rd system


    If there is a subdirectory under windows/system32/config/system delete all files. Ex. your subdir is dir1

    cd dir1
    attrib -r -s -h *.*
    del .
    cd ..
    rd dir1
    cd ..
    rd system


    Check for errors using CHKDSK
  15. WinXPert

    WinXPert TechSpot Booster Posts: 525

    [additional instructions]

    Reboot and clean your registry.

    Problem with removing active malware is that they have backups in your hard drive. Solution is to find those files and delete it so malwares can't resurrect itself. Possible locations are System Restore, Recycled, Recycler, WINDOWS\system32, temporary folders at ..\Local Settings etc.
  16. thatonedude21

    thatonedude21 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    My cables are completely secure and plugged in all the way. I'm 110% sure that this problem isn't virus, malware, spyware, etc. related. Also, can I know what

    c:
    cd windows/system32/config/system
    attrib -r -s -h *.*
    del .
    rd system
    cd dir1
    attrib -r -s -h *.*
    del .
    cd ..
    rd dir1
    cd ..
    rd system

    does at each step?
  17. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,285   +155

    you can see an explanation of each command and its params if you open a command window, (Start->Run, enter cmd) then enter the command followed by /?. Example below (for the attrib command) will return the explanation of attrib command and each of its possible params
    Code:
    attrib /?
    those steps would seem to be trying to change the file attributes of files in the Windows system config directory. but it also does some directory deletes i don't understand why it's doing it.
  18. WinXPert

    WinXPert TechSpot Booster Posts: 525

    Some further explanation.

    windows/system32/config/system is not a legit windows directory. Its created by virus or malware. windows/system32/config contains the registry and SAM (that the hash of your password). If ever there should only be 1 subdir under windows/system32/config and it should be systemprofile. systemprofile contains the backup of your profile (explore C:\Documents and Setting\Administrator).

    Why I should delete system with its subfolder is because that where the virus/malware creates it backup so it can resurrect itself after a reboot.
  19. thatonedude21

    thatonedude21 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Oh, ok, I understand what you're saying now. I don't have a directory called system. The only directory I see is "systemprofile", which, as you've said, should be there. System is just one of the files. So are any of these steps necessary?
  20. WinXPert

    WinXPert TechSpot Booster Posts: 525

    Delete the folders preferably in RC. Virus/malware is not active when you boot with the recovery console it's my safe bet.

    I'll explain what each line does later ok?
  21. WinXPert

    WinXPert TechSpot Booster Posts: 525

    I guess it's a super hidden subdir. Download Vernon Buerg's LIST.COM. It's an old DOS program, displays hidden and system files that even CMD can't touch.

    at the CMD prompt

    C:
    CD \Windows\system32\config
    ATTRIB -h -s -r SYSTEM /s /d


    Can you see the system folder? You're problem it that the malware is trying to make a backup at the corrupt Windows\system32\config directory. The reason for the missing Windows\system32\config\system error message is that the malware is trying to resurrect itself from its backup folder which is corrupt.

    C: changes Drive, if you want to go to drive d: type D:
    CD or CHDIR changes your current directory
    ATTRIB the - sign before hsr removes the hidden, system and read attributes respectively.
    DEL deletes files . is a shortcut for *.* mask that deletes all files in your current directory
    RD or RMDIR removes a subdirectory on your current dir

    Syntax: Command Name /? for help on any CMD command.

    Just uploaded the file LIST.COM.

    Attached Files:

  22. thatonedude21

    thatonedude21 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Alright, I checked out the config folder using List.com and didn't see a system folder. Only one I see is a systemprofile folder. I went ahead and did the "ATTRIB -h -s -r SYSTEM /s /d" steps and I still don't see a system folder.
  23. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,285   +155

    Thatonedude21: I suspect you simply posted steps you found in someone's thread who had that specific issue. And it appears that it doesn't apply to you cuz that subdirectory simply doesn't exist on your disk (is what you're seeing) or not seeing as is your case
  24. thatonedude21

    thatonedude21 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    I posted the steps that WinXPert suggested I do.
  25. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,285   +155

    yes. but i think HIS steps were in response to YOUR steps first posted/asked about
    Code:
    c:
    cd windows/system32/config/system
    attrib -r -s -h *.*
    del .
    rd system
    cd dir1
    attrib -r -s -h *.*
    del .
    cd ..
    rd dir1
    cd ..
    rd system
    In any case, i'll let the 2 of you work it out..
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