How to repair Windows XP/2000 if you are unable to boot into Windows

By Rick ยท 374 replies
Oct 20, 2003
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  1. Rizzano

    Rizzano TS Rookie

    Well I took my hard drive out of my computer and put it on my second computer (they are both the same model, bought at the same time, same setting and everything) as primary, and still the drive would not boot. It did the same thing hooked to that, so confirms the hard drive is the problem. Now what else I found was that someone said I could boot to a recovery console and do a repair to the boot write (or something like that) but you have to get into windows to boot into the recovery console correct?)

    Lastly, I put my drive as a slave on the secondary computer and it would not even recognize it.

    I am open to any more suggestions, but something tells me for some reason my HD is toast since I cannot get in to "patch" the mup.sys hang, or install the recovery console, and I would rather avoid paying $50 an hour to the cheapest tech in town.

    Thanks for the help guys, unless you can offer me some more suggestions.
  2. poertner_1274

    poertner_1274 secroF laicepS topShceT Posts: 4,172

    Well it sounds to me like the hard drive is going out, especially since it can't be recognized as a slave in your good computer.
  3. BadBoy

    BadBoy TS Rookie

    Hey All!

    i too am having probs, with my work computer. the tech guy quit on friday, so i'm on my own! well here it goes...
    one day last week i downloaded some real media clips on my lunch break. didn't have anything to play them, so i downloaded\installed real player. it had been a while since i used real player; i forgot how much crap goes along with it. so i watched the clips (stupid), and decided to uninstall real player. i did, and it gave me a warning about some other files (didn't pay attention at the time). i just clicked yes and went along with the uninstall. well a little while after, i noticed that the network icon in the notification area (by the clock) was missing. so i go to network connections. nothing, no window, nothing... i click it like 3 more times, then a blank window pops up; no wizzard, no connections, nothing. reboot. no change. well, i'll figure it out later, i'm still connected to the network. as the day progresses, i notice that things are slowing down. like using windows explorer takes forever. so i figured real player took some windows files with it when i uninstalled it. i'll just do a repair of windows to replace the missing files. started well enough, then:
    "setup cannot copy the file:"

    i had to skip them, had no choise. setup restarted the computer, came to a grainy blue setup screen, with "setup is being restarted". reboot. grainy blue setup screen, with "setup is being restarted". reboot. grainy blue setup screen, with "setup is being restarted". reboot. (i left the cd in BTW)
    now i'm stuck in a loop. i don't know if i can get to safe mode or anything?! HELP!!! if i don't get any work done tomorrow, i'll get fired!!! i spent half my 3 day weekend researching this, without much luck. i have to go in tomorrow and fix this. i can't do a full install of windows; we have a third party login software (Netware), and will render it useless. damn real player.


    BadBoy :cool:
  4. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,512

    :wave: Hello and Welcom to TechSpot :wave:

    What OS are you using?
    If it's XP you should be able to find most of the files in your, which can be opened by winzip/winrar or similar.
    Extract them and copy them to %windir%\system32

    If you are using windows 2000 pro and can't find the files, PM me and I'll send them to you...
    (Note, mine will be updated to SP4 as I can't find the originals)
  5. Rickenbacker75

    Rickenbacker75 TS Rookie

    missing or corrupt ??

    Hi all,
    I was wondering if anyone can assist me with my problem. My Gateway laptop all of a sudden wont boot anymore. It gives me this message ( Missing or Corrupt file ) \windows\system32\config\system
    I have an XP cd to repair it, I just need guidlines on what to do.
    So far Ive gotten to the part where it says ( Install XP on this Partition or Repair XP ) need help on what to do after that.

    Any other way I can acces my files in that HD?? I need to recover my homework and other documents.

    Thanks all.
  6. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,512



    Just received my MSI K8N Neo Plat and A64 3k+, and decided to use my current W2k installation.
    Removed all the motherboard specific devices I found in Device Manager and installed the new mobo.

    Only problem is that I didn't remember to remove the harddrives and cd/dvd players. And since I do not have enough IDE connectors, I had to let the DVD-rom sit this one out until I buy a SATA->PATA converter.

    And now every time I try to boot into win2k I get a lovely BSOD proclaiming that I've got an "INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE".

    I've tried to repair it by doing a fast repair, manual repair and through the recovery console. In the latter I've also turned off all the VIA services I could find (as the new motherboard is nforce based).

    I've installed win2k in a new location (or rather, I tried to re-install, win2k chose another harddrive alltogether), and from there tried to copy all the driver information gathered into the old installation.
    Still won't load.

    I am currently investigating any possible solution on the net (I would very much like to get back into that installation), and any help you can give me is greatly appreciated.

    Oh, and I know there isn't a problem with the drive itself, as it has W98SE installed and I can boot into that (or rather safemode, but that's another story entirely), and from my new win2k installation I have full access to all the files on the C: drive.

    Yes, I know, do a fresh installation, and yes I do plan on doing that, but that's at the earliest when my X800pro arrives...
  7. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,512

    Nevermind, fixed that problem. :)

    I'll post up details on how to move a system disk from one motherboard to another later on.
    Now I've got to figure out how to fix the infinite loop I've gotten. :(
  8. JackBlack

    JackBlack TS Rookie

    What if CD-ROM drive isn't bootable??

    SO, I'm sitting here starting a repair on an XP box that just reports "corrupt or missing SYSTEM" on boot, and I've searched threads here and elsewhere.

    Everyone assumes that one can boot from the XP CD. Well, what if the CD-ROM drive isn't bootable (old IBM)??? Seems all the executables don't run in DOS mode, so how does one start the SETUP routine to get to the repair console?!?!?!?! ;)

  9. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,512

    I don't know if this will work or not, as I've never touched an XP cd, but it does work on win2k cd's, so I figure it'll work here too...

    Boot with a bootdisk (which includes cd-rom drivers).
    Navigate to i386 on the xp cd, and launch winnt.exe (or winnt32.exe).

    That should launch the install program.

    Note: you will get faster copying if you enable smartdrv before you launch setup.
  10. bluemtn290

    bluemtn290 TS Rookie

    I've got the missing or corrupt windows\system32\config\system message...I can boot to safe mode but can't use the safe mode with command prompt option. The message "can attempt repair by starting Windows Setup using the original setup CD-ROM, select 'r' for repair"...the only CD's I have are the HP system recovery discs. I'll lose all my data if I use these, right? Are there other Windows discs that I'm supposed to have?

  11. bewbew

    bewbew TS Rookie

    Another method would be to d/l the Knoppix ISO and boot the CD. It's a complete operating system on a disk.

    Restore any really important data, then re-install everything.

    This also works for retreiving WIN2k/ME/98se passwords and l0phtcracking them. Another reason Admins shouldn't have CDroms on dummy workstations :D
  12. o0clocks0o

    o0clocks0o TS Rookie

    One for the PRO's

    Please see my post "One for the PRO's" in a new thread if u think you are an expert...

    Good luck! :)

  13. Blah

    Blah TS Rookie


    I have many problems with image errors ect, my whole system32 .dll files are pretty messed up. I would like to repair my windows but as i have an emachines system, i recieved 2 restore disks with it, with all files and drivers i need (including windows). Does anyone know how i can repair?


    ps. sfc /scannow does not work, it says it requires the windows xp home edition disk, either of my restore disks do not work in this stage, need another solution to repairing.
  14. TS Rookie

    I have an unusual situation

    Here's what i'm working with...

    My girlfriend's Dad bought a computer that does not have any recovery discs, etc. His computer is experiencing very similar symptoms as described above.

    1. The unit constantly attempts to boot and makes it to the windows screen (the one with the moving blue bar at the bottom)...the screen goes black, then comes back with the same windows screen before restarting.

    2. I have tried hitting the F8 button to try the safe mode stuff, and it takes me to the screen where I can try the different boot options..however, I cannot move the cursor up and down using my keyboard or anything else...i'm completely baffled by this because I know the keyboard works when I'm in the BIOS screen (I have already made sure my CDROM has higher boot priority too).

    3. Obviously, I'm completely at a loss of what my next step should be...Oh, I forgot to tell you, I personally own a newer Compaq Presario and I've been trying to use my Windows recovery CD on his computer. We both had XP Home OSes.

    What would you guys recommend? Should I ditch the HD and buy a whole new copy of Windows and simply start over? If so, what should I keep in mind moving forward with this plan of action.

    Thanks all.
    David :confused:
  15. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    Check if BIOS has an option to set USB keyboard or legacy device support to be controlled by BIOS instead of OS.
  16. fretman

    fretman TS Rookie Posts: 19

    • Hope you can help me out Rick. I am doing the repair process you described above because I had to have my motherboard replaced.

      During the installation process, it would hang at "34 minutes remaining". It would then ask me for a DLL file for my soundcard. I locate the file and click OK but the installation process goes no further. The system reboots and the installation process restarts. It goes to 34 minutes remaining again and then just hangs for a while and the computer restarts and this process continues. Should I try something else? I wanted to install fresh but got a message saying that my files and folders would be lost so I decided to stop.
  17. poertner_1274

    poertner_1274 secroF laicepS topShceT Posts: 4,172

    There are a few things you can try. Since it is asking for a DLL for your soundcard you can just SKIP this file and continue with the intallation, then install the drivers for the soundcard after you have XP up and running again.

    Another thing is next time it restarts try taking out your XP CD and see what happens, if it hangs when it is supposed to restart on purpose, then it is trying to boot form CD and it needs to boot from the install files on the hard drive instead.

    Give that a shot and post back whether it helped or not. Thanks.
  18. fretman

    fretman TS Rookie Posts: 19

    Yup....i tried the first suggestion the very first time it tried to do the repair process. I clicked CANCEL when it asked for my DLL file. However, the prompt just stayed there and wouldn't go away. Soon after the system rebooted and the installation process restarted. The second time I went and got my DLL file and clicked OK. XP seemed to recognized it because the prompt window went away but the installation process hung at 34% complete even though the user friendly window shots kept changing. Then the system would reboot.

    As for the 2nd option, I tried that as well. The system would restart and it would get to the installation process and then it would prompt me to put the windows CD back in.
  19. fretman

    fretman TS Rookie Posts: 19

    Well I removed my sound card and the installation process did not continue. Same problem with hanging and then restarting. I will do a clean installation on a reformatted HD.
  20. hotwilzz

    hotwilzz TS Rookie

    Same problem as fretman

    I am working on a friends computer and what started as a loss of sound and trying to run th xp repair has now turned ugly. I am getting exactly where fretman got in the process(34Minutes) and the screen just shut off. After a few minutes the hd stops all activity and I am working from a dark screen. When I reboot, it starts all over again. I hate to start with a clean install and lose all my friends date, but the way it continues to freeze up at 34 min. I'm not sure that would work either.

    Any ideas? HD? thanks for any help you may have
  21. fretman

    fretman TS Rookie Posts: 19

    Yup...when I tried to repair XP-Professional it would hang at 34 minutes during the installation process and then reboot and restart the installation process again and again. The first time it prompted me for a DLL file for my audio card. I installed the DLL file but that didn't work. I then removed the audio card and that still didn't work. I finally had to do a clean install on another harddrive which I keep handy in case of emergencies like this. I did find however that the installation process even on a new drive seemed to hang a bit at 34% before continuing.

    However, when I connected the old drive that I was doing the repair on as the slave so I could copy the contents over to the new drive the system scanned the old drive upon boot up for consistency and found an error with the pagesys file.

    Anyways, if you don't want to lose your friends data then just buy another hard drive and install XP on it and then copy your friends drive contents onto the new one. It's always good to have an extra drive anyways and you can just get a 40gig for a relatively low price these days.
  22. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    You could also try hitting F8 in the beginning when the setup says "Press F6 to install new SCSI drivers" (or something like that) and choose "Standard PC" from the list that follows.

    I think most of the hardware problems stem from poorly implemented / designed ACPI. It was a nice idea but MS couldn't get it to work properly (hello PnP).

    In plain English, use the old working method where devices don't try to share resources aggressively.
  23. Haasman

    Haasman TS Rookie

    First post on this board ....

    I have been trying to repair the "corrupted pci.sys file" problem ..... eventually ended up with an access denied statement after trying to copy the pci.sys from the install CD to the windows\system32\drivers directory.

    So .... I gave up and decided to reinstall. I pushed L to wipe out the settings etc and now at the screen "Setup examines your disks" it just sits there.

    Any suggestions and pointers would greatly be appreciated.

  24. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 4,572   +65

    "Corrupted PCI.SYS file" is very common to memory errors.

    I wouldn't be surprised if your memory is either bad or not compatible with your system board.
  25. IanTechGuru

    IanTechGuru TS Rookie

    Repair a Missing HIVE with a SATA ViaRaid 0 Config


    Here's what you need to do... 1st you had the right idea on adding the ViaRaid drivers for the RAID Stripe 0 config, but you missed the SATA drivers.

    You need to feed 2 drivers to windows upon install:
    1. Fastrack
    2. ViaRaid

    After that you should be able to get to the Recovery Console by hitting "R" at the 1st screen that you come to after the message Starting Windows.

    You will need to do a ChkDsk /R which repairs errors and attempts to recover data. Do this repeatedly until you no longer get any errors.

    The directory \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\ is the Location of the Registry Hive Files IF you can't get the system to boot after doing the ChkDsk then the ONLY option is to replace the SYSTEM file with the ORIGINAL file that is stored elsewhere in the Windows Directory. If you have to Replace the Hive File, 1st make a backup of the SYSTEM file by copying it to another location and renaming it to SYSTEM.BAK. Then copy the SYSTEM file from the \Windows\Repair\ folder.

    That should get your system back into Operation. However the System settings stored in the Registry WILL be missing.

    Hope this helps


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