possible fix..




Thursday, November 17, 2005

"Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM"

This error arises when the System registry hive is either deleted or corrupt. System registry hive contains configuration information necessary for the system to boot.

The first thing to try is to run chkdsk command from the Recovery Console and then reboot the system.

If chkdsk does not solve the problem, then the System file should be restored from backups. There are two places to look for the backups, one is the System Restore folder and the other is \Windows\Repair folder.

From the Recovery Console, navigate to the folder \System Volume Information of the root drive, using the command:

cd "C:\System Volume Information"

Here, locate and navigate to the folder whose name begins with _restore using the command:

cd _resto~1

This folder contains many subfolders which have names of the form RPxxx, where xxx is a number indicating the restore point. Locate an RPxxx folder which has the highest number as its suffix (highest xxx) using the command dir command. Then navigate into that folder using the command:

cd RPxxx (don't forget to replace xxx with the corresponding number!)

Now, there will be a folder named snapshot. Navigate to this folder using the command:

cd snapshot

There should be a file named _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SYSTEM, copy this file to the \Windows\System32\Config folder with the name System using the command:

copy _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SYSTEM C:\Windows\System32\Config\System

Then reboot the system. This method works only when the System Restore feature of Windows XP is enabled.

While installing Windows, the setup backs up the System registry hive in Repair folder. If the System Restore feature is turned off, then this backup can be used to restore the System hive. From the Recovery Console, navigate to folder \Windows\Repair, using the command:

cd C:\Windows\Repair

and then copy the System file to its original location using the command:

copy System C:\Windows\System32\Config\System

and reboot the system.

The disadvantage of this method is that, since the backup is created during the installation of Windows, by restoring this backup all the system configuration and driver installations made after it will be lost.

More resources here and here.



Anonymous said...
For people who want to try this:

1. You need to use quotes in cd "system volume information" because of the spaces.

2. Once in the RPxxx folder you need to navigate to the snapshot subfolder to find the actual _REGISTRY_ etc files.

3. MS suggests to replace all 5 files (hives) rather than just the system file, ie system, software, sam, security and .default

And even if you do all this it might not work, as I have found. Don't know the reason yet, but still getting the same error message. Any suggestions? HD damage, or a boot virus perhaps?

Alex S
1:17 AM  
Anonymous said...
I replaced all the _registry_* files into the proper config locations, overwriting them. The error message that tells me to hit "r" went away and I can get just passed the windows loading screen but then the system reboots. I've tried all the methods on the internet in the last 2 hrs only to end up having to do a full restore, bummer.

Thanks for the walkthrough, helped quite a bit and I hope it helps others :)
2:27 AM  
Anonymous said...
Just a note to the posters above - thanks so much, saved a me a lot of time fixing a friend's computer.

3:37 AM  
Anonymous said...
Thatks for sharing. I ran a chkdsk and it worked. Thanks again!
11:20 PM  
Anonymous said...
Thanks alot for this!
The official fix on microsoft's site doesn't work properly in firefox. :-@

Anyone that has problems READ THE FIRST COMMENT, POINT 1 AND 2 ARE IMPORTANT! (just wanted to give people a better chance of seeing that, it is really important)

I also got rid of the programs I'd installed recently in case they had caused the problem.

Thanks again for the walkthrough.
6:53 PM  
swatkat said...
Hi all,
Thanks for visiting! And, thanks for pointing out the mistakes. I've corrected them in the main post. I hope it would help...

Thanks agian :)
12:46 AM  
Anonymous said...
If using the file from the highest numbered RPxxx directory doesn't work, try others going in decreasing order. I went back 2 and was then able to boot successfully.
Thanks for the walk-thru Swatkat.
11:50 PM  
Raven said...
Thanks this helped!!
7:39 PM  
Anonymous said...
Article + Alex S's comment of replacing all 5 hive files worked wonders. Many thanks.
3:27 AM  
Anonymous said...
This was of great help to me. It worked perfectly. Thanks!
3:52 PM  
Anonymous said...
Swatkat, fantastic advice! You would not believe how many sites I read through but none, not even MS support site, offered this caliber of advice. And by caliber, I mean advice that actually solved the problem. Thanks.
7:25 PM  
Anonymous said...
Tried chkdsk, didn't work. Restored system file and that did work. Thanks a bunch.
8:23 PM  
Anonymous said...

I have this message and it tells me to select r at first screen to start repair but nothing! If I reboot with the windows disk, just get the same message. How do I get to the Recovery console from the first boot up screens? I could then follow the insructions posted...thanks
2:21 PM  
Anonymous said...
Just to add to my previous post, I get the error message if I boot up either from hard drive or windows disk and whatever key I press, I can't progress to another screen.

Is there a shortcut key to the recovery console?
3:03 PM  
Anonymous said...
I have the same problem, i can get to command prompt via a reinstall disk but it only shows me the dvd drive as 'A:' and I get "Invalid drive specificaton" if i try to change drives from A: to C:
4:45 AM  
Anonymous said...
Thanks alot

a very helpfully side.
chkdsk didnt change anything but changing the registry worked and i must not reinstall the computer.

peter k.
4:44 PM  
Anonymous said...
This worked and saved lot of time.

Chkdsk did reported issues of bad sectors and could not fix the problem. But the copyying the registry file did made the machine worked.

You can use a simple bootable CD from Bart PE to boot into the machine and access the Hard drive


2:18 AM  
Rao said...
Thanks Buddy..

It Worked..
12:31 PM  
Anonymous said...
I Don't have the windows setup CD to get the windoews setup screen on. What do I do? Thanks!
8:44 PM  
Anonymous said...
worked great ....

3:35 PM  
Anonymous said...
I just wanted to say that after copying all 5 of the latest hives from the lates snapshot folder it did not work.

I went back to a hive 'set' a couple days older, copied these files and my system works perfectly. Thanks!!!!!!!
12:36 PM  
Anonymous said...
VERY helpful information. I only replaced the corrupted hive and it worked just as advertised.
1:10 AM  
Mark Sellin said...
Thanks, CHKDSK was all I needed -- maybe took me a total of 10 minutes. And two separate support people told me to use the restore disk, which would have forced me to restore all my apps. Good thing your page told me better -- I appreciate the many hours you saved me!
10:13 AM  
Mark Sellin said...
P.S. I borrowed an XP install disk from one of my neighbors to get to the Recovery Console. You don't need to enter a key to make the repair.
10:17 AM  
Anonymous said...
It worked! Great help. The first method didn't help for me. But the second section did the trick! Thanks!
10:48 PM  
Anonymous said...
Thank you!!!!! thought I lost my whole machine. The first method worked like a charm.
5:21 AM  
Anonymous said...
Thank you swatkat, worked like a charm from my latest rp directory.
3:54 AM  
Anonymous said...
You'd MAN ... Thanks very much it worked first time. Although I've worked in IT over 14 years and have an MSc in IT ... you put it in comfortable language so easy to follow. Cheers!
8:29 PM  
Anonymous said...
It is excellent! I could fix my system.

3:30 PM  
uday kiran said...
thanks alot you were very helpful your involvement of logic is excellent
2:48 AM  
Anonymous said...
Worked like a charm! Thank you for posting the fix.
10:10 PM  
Anonymous said...
it partially worked: i logged into the system, but the windows toolbar is missing
7:10 AM  
orhan said...
Thank you very much for your assistance Swatkat, second method works perfectly. I could save all system without losing any information.
3:12 PM  
swatkat said...
Glad to hear that the post was helpful.
Thanks for visiting.
11:33 PM  
Joe said...
I had a slight question on this, I can not get recovery console or system setup to work. I try running recovery console and I select 1 for the windows directory and it hangs. When I try to just install a fresh windows install (which should be fine since everything I need is on the home direcotry not documents and settings) It trys to search for a previous version of windows, which I could then try to repair that way, but instead it just locks up when searching for the previous version of windows. Is there anyway to fix this?
5:44 AM  
Anonymous said...
Thanks so much for this. Instructions were spot on!! worked for me first time.

YOu're a life saver!!!
8:24 AM  
Anonymous said...
I have tried the instructions on the Microsoft website regarding this problem and they have not completely fixed the problem.

Unfortunately chkdsk did not fix the problem for me, but the second solution cleared the problem right up!!!

You are my hero!
12:02 AM  
Abh1jit said...
Thanks a lot buddy! I searched several sites including MS ones. But this site offered concise and accurate advice. Now I am off to backing up EVERYTHING from this PC while it has allowed me back in :)
11:23 AM  
blackout said...
Hey, the copying from restore point worked, however, now my desktop has been sitting there for about 30 mins saying "Applying Computer Settings".

However, it did load passed the point of telling me the file was corrupt.

It loads windows, and Dialog Box comes up with "Please Wait..." in the title bar.. and "Applying computer settings"
5:44 AM  
Julia Smythe said...
thank you so much for all the help, was really worried my laptop was dying on me!!! at least its all ok now! cheers! jules
8:47 PM  
help!!! said...
help! i've tried doing this but whenever i enter cd "c:\system volume information" it just tells me "the path or file specified is not valid".

9:48 PM  
srabin1 said...
GREAT, GREAT tip. You saved me from another mind-numbing and time-consuming reinstall of XP.

Thanks again!

10:03 AM  
Anonymous said...
Swatkat, you are a legend. I came this close to running FIXMBR and potentially losing all of my data, when I happened upon your site.

Excellent instructions, clearly laid out.

Thanks so much.

6:40 PM  
Jack said...
Great tutorial!!

This happened to my computer yesterday night and I was going to die. Tried chkdsk this morning and it fixed the problem! Thanks again man.

8:45 PM  
cbrillow said...
Thanks so much for this! Thought I was in for a reinstall and possible lost data, at best.

Did a chkdsk /p/r, but my laptop still wouldn't boot. Then copied the registry hive as instructed in the 2nd step, and I'm back in business.

The internet -- the greatest computer troubleshooting tool ever!

Thanks again, Swatkat!
6:25 PM  
Anonymous said...
This totally worked!

Thank you very much for having this available. chkdsk didn't work for me but the second step did, my PC is back to what it was before the corruption.

Again thank you.
9:35 AM  
Chris said...
I consider myself fairly fluent and have a few tricks up my sleeve, but this one deserves a big huge THANK YOU!
2:22 AM  
Anonymous said...
I ran chkdsk and recovered from the same problem.

thanks a lot for sharing it
4:53 PM  
Anonymous said...
1> Followed original instructions on this page.
2> Machine started to boot, but held on black screen - Did not get to "Welcome" Screen
3> Repeated 1 above except copied all 5 hive files as suggested.
4> Result: Successful boot into XP Pro Sp2

5> Big thanks to all posters



jedd win me













jedd winme







follow step below with the start up disk...it worked...june 25 2007