Corrupt/missing windows system32\config\system file

I have Windows XP Home edition on my Sony Vaio. Can't start Windows because I get a msg saying following file is corrupt or missing windows system32\config\system
Sony support suggested I start in F8 mode and select last know good configuration. I tried that and got a msg saying Windows couldn't start because the following file is missing or corrupt
<Windows root> \system32\ntoskrnl.exe
Sony support is now suggesting a full recovery but I don't want to lose all my data!  Any suggestions on what I can do to repair but also let me keep my data?  Thanks!!

<Original Title>
Corrupt/missing windows system32\config\system file? How to repair without losing my data? Sony support says to do full system recovery but I'll lose data and it sounds very drastic!

Question Info

Last updated October 24, 2018 Views 49,741 Applies to:
    For your Windows CD, that would have been provided by the PC maker.  Sometimes they have a partition on the hard drive that contains the recovery software and can be accessed during boot up.  You would need to check with the PC maker for information about recovery options.  Also if they didn't provide a CD sometimes they will offer the recovery media for sale. 

The issue here is that something has happened to the ntoskrnl.exe file.  It is hard to just replace that file because the version that is on a CD will possibly differ from the version you had on your system.  If you replace it with another one it could potentially cause other issues.

At this point you will need to do a repair install or a clean install\factory restore. 

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