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Windows XP will not boot - Missing or corrupt file

By papasmithnc ยท 12 replies
Feb 9, 2009
  1. I am getting the error message that the file "windows\system32\config\system" is either corrupted or missing during startup.

    I tried to boot from my OS disk with the idea of repairing the operating system. However, the screen goes to "checking your system configuration" and then goes to a blue screen that says "windows setup" and just stops.

    I tried two other windows XP OS disks with the same results. What do I need to do?

    Dave in NC
  2. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    it appears your hard drive has gone south. You might want to save it to an external USB enclosure to then save the data, if the date is important, before you do any more testing. Hard drives are relatively inexpensive nowadays compared to data.
  3. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,729   +409

    Might be worth checking the RAM too if you aren't noticing any weird noises from your hard drive. Burn a memtest disk, and pull the power from your hard drive just incase it is bad (the more it runs the less chance you have of getting data back if the drive is going bad). Then boot up off the cd you made and let it run a full pass or 2 (generally more are recommended, but if its BSODing on you so soon the memtest should throw an error quick if that is the problem).
  4. puchicas

    puchicas TS Rookie

    papasmithnc XP won't boot

    This problem is common and it is usually related to one or more files being corrupted. There are three load files in XP and they are:

    You should always have a backup copy of those three files for these types of emergencies. You can bring up your hard disk in another system and copy those three files back onto it. Take it back to the original computer and it should boot up.

    I have gone as far as copying them from a similar system, and playing with the boot.ini to get it right.
  5. papasmithnc

    papasmithnc TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Okay, downloaded the free memtest file, burned it to a cd on another computer. Put it in the computer with the problem, after disconnecting my hard drive, and I just get the message that the boot disk or operating system cannot be found.

    Oh, and before all this happened, I did not hear any unusual noises from my hard drive. Used my computer last night, this morning this happens. I am dearly hoping it is not my hard drive. Buying one is not the problem. It is the data that I have put in since my last backup.

    Another question, if the hard drive is not completely trashed, what would be the easiest way to get the data off of the hard drive?

    Dave in NC
  6. itguy7305

    itguy7305 TS Rookie


    Sorry dude you just said it "I did hear unusual noises from my hard drive" Best thing to try at this point is getting your data off before it fails. I wouldn't play around with it too much, go get a new HDD and if you do not have one get a Live CD like Mepis 7 or Ubuntu 8 and boot the Live CD and copy your data off the failing drive. Image the new HDD and move your data and you will be back in biz.

  7. papasmithnc

    papasmithnc TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the information. However, I didn't hear any unusual noises from my hard drive before my problem. However, trying to boot from another and having it as a secondary has revealed some unusual noises coming from it. So it appears that it is a failed drive. Thanks again itguy for the process of recovering my data. Hope it works.
  8. itguy7305

    itguy7305 TS Rookie

    No problem, hope it helps.

  9. TheConqueror

    TheConqueror TS Rookie Posts: 19

    Hey there Dont toss that hdd just yet
    Ive serviced many computers with this same problem it is in fact as stated fairly common. You can try a couple things here dont disconnect the HDD leave it as was originaly. download UBCD (ultimate bootdisk) only requires a cdr as it has many tools but take up less than a gig. after it is burned boot into the disk by hitting escape or f12 in some cases f2 depending on the manufacturer. when you run the disk it will give you a list of tools they are self explanitory and from here you can test both the hard drive and the RAM. okay now that thats out of the way. You can also make a Boot disk which in fact has all the files necessary to boot into windows google this process as it is fairly simple and only requires a floppy although theres is a way to use a flash drive a bit more complicated though Not to worry as there are only a few files needed for the process and you can download a package as well as a tutorial just google it my friend.
    Let me know if this was of any use to you
  10. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 10,432   +801

    is the Registry location.

    Boot from the CD and use the Repair (R) reply

    see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/307545/en-us
  11. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Your optical drive is the likely suspect.
  12. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,000   +15

    can you run CKDSK ?
  13. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,729   +409

    That is likely because you either didn't burn the disk as an iso (you can't just burn so the disk contains the .iso file). OR your bios isn't set to look for the CD/DVD drive first on bootup.

    RAM issues can cause registry problems on boot, but jobeard may be on to something too. But in both of our suggestions you WILL have to be able to boot off of a CD so you need to get that figured out.

    So like I said, I'd run the memtest without the HD's power on. If that checks out, then I'd make a diagnostic disk (that you dl from the hd manufacturer's website) and run it on the drive (obviously reconnect the power to the HD). If that checks out, then do jobeard's suggestion. This is the least risky way to proceed if you suspect a failing hard drive.
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