Error message WINDOWS/SYSTEM32/CONFIG/SYSTEM on Windows startup

By White Knight123 · 54 replies
Jul 8, 2006
  1. Hi

    I decided to defragment my computer this morning because of low disk space. On the start up of computer i get the following message:

    Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt


    I have had this problem before, but just used the recovery disk supplied the computer manufacturer. This time i have valuable information that i do not want to loose.

    Also i have been to many sites which say that you need the Windows XP setup disk to repair it. I do not have this disk as the manufacturer, time, only gave me a unofficial recovery disk which gives me two options. Restore, and Repair boot sectors. I have tried the "Repair Boot sectors" option and no luck and i do not want to return the computer back to its factory settings.

  2. fastco

    fastco TS Booster Posts: 1,123

    You need to get a Windows XP from someone and follow these instructions:
    Windows could not start because the following files is missing or corrupt

    1. Insert and boot from your Windows XP CD.
    2. At the first R=Repair option, press the R key
    3. Press the number that corresponds to the correct location for the installation of Windows you want to repair.
    Typically this will be #1
    4. Enter in the administrator password when requested
    5. cd \windows\system32\config
    6. Depending on which section was corrupted:
    ren software software.bad or ren system system.bad
    7. Depending on which section was corrupted
    copy \windows\repair\system
    copy \windows\repair\software
    8. Take out the CD ROM and type exit

    If that doesn't work or you can't get into the repair console then With the XP disk you choose to install Windows XP and when you choose to install over the current XP installation you will be given the option to repair the current Windows installation and you won't lose all of your data.
  3. White Knight123

    White Knight123 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Sata Drive

    Ok, managed to get hold of a windows xp home disk, but now i have another problem. When i boot off the windows setup disk and get to the part where it says choose a partition, no partitions are found. I have read on other sites that you need the drivers for the Sata to get windows to accept it, but the manufacturer did not give me a cd with them on. Any ideas or ways round doing that?
  4. White Knight123

    White Knight123 TS Rookie Topic Starter


    Looking around, ive now found the cd with the drivers on. From the cd, it looks as if my motherbaord is MSI 6741 K8 AMD 64. The only thing is now, there are no drivers for the sata on that cd. Does anyone know where to get them?

  5. playn2dend

    playn2dend TS Rookie

    i'm having the similar problem except when it asks for the admin password and i do know it cause i am the admin. it says its invalid...just to be certain the password you log on to is the admin password (and i'm not talkiing guest or anything) there is only one log on and that's mine and i am concerened that something even further is wrong
  6. Po`Girl

    Po`Girl TS Rookie Posts: 595

    If you can`t get the Repair option to work,

    there is a good page HERE that gives you the options -

    Basically use a Linux live CD,or putting the HD in another computer (Options 4 & 5).

    I would advise you try option 4 (another computer).That will give you a chance to

    drag any important files off before you start messing.

    There are other guides for the same problem,if that one isn`t clear enough.
  7. Ramo

    Ramo TS Rookie

    Are you sure? there's a default admin account, is this the same one you are using?
  8. gp_dhaliwal

    gp_dhaliwal TS Rookie

    Dear Fastco
    As per the instructions i have successfully done till step 7, when i hit ENTER after typing the command on Step 7 then it gives a message "Unable to locate the file"

    please suggest me what steps should be followed next and what is the best time to get you online to resolve the matter.
    Thanks in Advance.
    GP Dhaliwal
  9. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,128   +982

    config\SYSTEM is but one of five files that make 'the registry'.
    you will need to resync ALL FIVE to do this right.

    here are some notes on approaches to restoring the registry
    (btw: I just did this yesterday for my local UPS Store manager :) )

    this works EVERY TIME, but you need the Knoppix CD
    most importantly, it documents where to get good copies and how to copy/rename

    here's a synopsis of information on the subject
  10. nikki

    nikki TS Rookie


    Could someone please help me i get te following error message on my laptop and cant do anything:

    When i put the windows xp recovery disk in i get the options of partitions????? Which i am not sure what that means,
    I’ve seen other posts about boot from r ....but i don’t have this options or don’t know where to look.
    I have data on the laptop which i don’t want to lose but cant back it up anyway because i cant get into the laptop., and i don’t want this information to be replaced or over written.
    Please please help.........
  11. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,128   +982

    read the synopsis shown above
  12. destruct

    destruct TS Rookie

    Help Please...

    I am resurrecting this thread in the hopes that somebody can be of some assistance. I am basically having the same problem as the original poster of this thread with some additional woes.

    Pressing "r" at the error screen does nothing
    Machine will not boot from any disk
    cannot access command prompt
    cannot access recovery console
  13. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,128   +982

  14. sent12b

    sent12b TS Rookie Posts: 21

    Step 1:

    Boot with the windows XP CD

    At "Welcome to setup screen" Press R

    Select the appropriate path for windows and press enter
    If it asks you for the administrator password, type the administrator password and
    press enter or just hit enter

    We will now see the Prompt c:\windows>

    Step 2:
    cd system32\config

    ren system system.old
    ren software software.old
    ren SAM SAM.old
    ren security security.old
    ren default default.old

    Then type cd Type cd system~1\_resto~1 and press Enter

    If you get "access denied" (Error) then

    Restart the computer by type Exit and get back to recovery console

    type cd \ and it will display C:\>
    type cd system~1\_resto~1 and press Enter

    Step 3:
    Type dir
    It will list you restore points
    (e.g. RP1, RP2, RP3, RP4, etc...)

    Select the one from the list except the last one
    Say RP4

    · type cd RP3 (or RP2 or RP1 or RPn) and enter

    · type cd snapshot and enter

    · type copy _registry_user_.default c:\windows\system32\config\default and enter

    · type copy _registry_machine_security c:\windows\system32\config\security and

    · type copy _registry_machine_software c:\windows\system32\config\software and

    · type copy _registry_machine_system c:\windows\system32\config\system and enter

    · type copy _registry_machine_sam c:\windows\system32\config\sam and enter

    · type exit and enter
  15. destruct

    destruct TS Rookie

    see my first post. pressing r does nothing, and machine will not boot from a disc
  16. rascard2007

    rascard2007 TS Rookie

    Try replacing the RAM memory. A failing RAM can make both the system and us almost crazy!
  17. destruct

    destruct TS Rookie

    That never occured to me. I'll give that a try
  18. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,128   +982

    If RAM were the issue, there would be many other symptoms.
    A corrupt system32\config\* FILE is a common issue however
  19. fatballs

    fatballs TS Rookie

    I am having the same issue.
    I have duel fx74's 8 gig of ram and duel hard drives running in stripe.

    When I hit "r" it says it finds no hard drives. when booting it says 0 hard drive problems and shows them running fine.

    This happened when I hit check disk woke up this morning and the error message appeared.

    I sent it to the shop last time they gave me a new motherboard and replaced the video card which obviously was not the problem but they sure said it was..

    HELP !!!!
  20. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,128   +982

  21. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

  22. fatballs

    fatballs TS Rookie

    Please be more specific. I do not see anything that will work on my machine to be able to get to the system restore.
  23. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,128   +982

    get your Windows CD and boot from it; enter R for recovery

    be aware that it *may* reformat the HD and return it to a 'virgin state' as you received it day-1;
    ie: YOUR files may all be missing.

    If you can get to a command prompt (run->cmd), then enter
    which will launch the Restore System utility
  24. fatballs

    fatballs TS Rookie

    I will state again I hit "r" and it says their are no hard drives found. I know it is because I am running in stripe. That solution does not work as previously stated.

    If their is some way to get to a command prompt like we could in the old days please feel free to let me know as I do not know how without going thru the "r" which I will state again does not work for me.
  25. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,128   +982

    Raid-0 (stripes) is fraught with recovery issues as you are discovering.
    Even Microsoft discourages Raid on the boot volume.

    I GREATLY feel your pain, but you best be planning for a rebuild,
    new HD
    New OS Install
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