Windows XP SP3: System restore unable to start, cannot drag and drop ANY files/folders on desktop and in ALL apps, many services unable to start, cannot search, cannot copy/paste or transfer any files folders....

After a recent power outage, my system restarted with a bizarre and widespread range of windows malfunctions. The system boots fine, all my personal files/folders/apps are intact, almost all apps function, but many crucial Windows core functions have suddenly stopped. Everything seems to point to many of the Windows Services are unable to start (administrative tools on start menu). I am running Win XP SP3 and was going to update to Windows 7, but I wanted to back up everything beforehand. As I have 29,000 hours on my C: drive and that much time invested in my system, files, and apps, I am extremely reluctant to risk losing my apps and files by doing any kind of reinstallation of Windows. Strangely, almost all my apps start and my files are all accessable for the most part, but I've lost the ability to drag and drop files, folders, or items in a list inside apps COMPLETELY. I cannot copy or paste ANYTHING, cannot move desktop icons (although I can create new files and folders). So at present I cannot back anything up or transfer even a single file from one hard drive to any other storage media. First immediate reaction: try safe mode and try system restore... safe mode has the same problems (likely due to the large number of system services that inexplicably refuse to start) and system restore declares an error window saying "system restore is not able to protect your computer at this time. try restarting and running system restore again", which of course NEVER changes. This is the equivalent of having a tire blow out on your car in the middle of nowhere to find the spare tire flat and the jack missing. I used to be fanatical about setting regular restore points, but now cannot access any of them. I have backups of most of my personal files, but over the years have lost most of the original install CDs for many of my apps (there are over 100 installed apps on my system) and I dont want to lose the file associations and directory tree architecture that it took my sooooo long to establish. I started with Win XP media center first edition (circa 2004 or so) and have migrated twice from 2 computers and over 3 hard drives. In all that time (5 years of daily use), I've NEVER experienced so many malfunctions for so many basic and crucial Windows functions simultaneously. I've tried many 3rd party "windows fix-it / registry repair" apps, all have no effect. All I can speculate is there was some serious damage done to the registry, and have no idea how/why so many of the Services refuse to start. In MMC, over half the services actually start and run, the remainder all give the error message "the service or dependencies failed to start (error 1068). Also, very bizarrely, NO APPS or windows appear in the taskbar AT ALL, but the quick launch toolbar works fine, as does the task tray and start button (??!?!??!?!). Therefore, if I minimize a window, it "disappears" (nothing on the taskbar), but I can restore it by using the alt-tab hotkey to switch apps, and all windows/apps appear on the task manager list. A few apps are crippled badly, like windows media player, itunes, etc (I presume because the windows audio service cannot/will not start), a few wont start at all, but 90% of them work just fine, except for trying to copy or back up any files. I can create new files, however. I am desperate to find a solution to repair Win XP3 WITHOUT losing my installed apps and files, before I try and move to WIndows 7. Any and all help/suggestions/links/advice would be extremely appreciated. I am an experienced computer user, but I've never encountered so many OS-based malfunctions at once. I have, however, very painfully learned (years ago, before my system got so complex) that doing a Windows re-installation almost guarantees losing my file associations, directory tree architecture, and installed apps. 



I'll be honest with you - your post is so difficult to read I didn't bother going through the whole thing. Next time consider using whitespace, bullet or numbered points, etc. to make your message more readable. I stopped reading after your first sentence and only scanned the rest quickly. I'm not saying this to hurt your feelings; just trying to help you get the focused answers you need for the future.

The power outage corrupted your Windows installation. Back up your data now. Since you are having so many problems, it would probably be best to either pull the hard drive, put it in a USB drive enclosure and attach to a different computer to copy off the data OR boot the target system with a Linux Live CD like Knoppix and copy off the data to an external hard drive. IOW, don't use the damaged Windows to try and get your data.

You can try a Repair Install which will leave your programs and data intact, but with such widespread corruption it is unlikely to work. However, it only takes a few minutes and is therefore worth a try. If the Repair Install doesn't work there is nothing left to do but a Clean Install. And yes, that will mean starting over.

Consider purchasing an Uninterruptible Power Supply to help prevent future damage by power outages. For a single computer, you should be looking for one in the area of $60-80. A more expensive UPS isn't necessary. Another good disaster recovery strategy is to purchase an external hard drive and Acronis True Image. You can image your system (and TI can do incremental backup imaging so your image is always current). Then you can apply your image and be back up and running as you were in a relatively few minutes after a hard drive and/or Windows failure. - Repair Install How-To - Clean Install How-To - What you will need on-hand

MS-MVP - Elephant Boy Computers - Don't Panic!
Elephant Boy Computers - Don't Panic!

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Last updated March 13, 2020 Views 10,784 Applies to: