When I start up up the computer I get this message Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrput: \windows\system32\config\system

I can't my disk. Can upgrade to windows 7 without fixing that
 

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Last updated October 18, 2019 Views 2,731 Applies to:
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This error indicates that there is a problem with the main system registry file.  The solution is to replace this file with a backup that has been stored as part of a System Restore point on your machine.  The quickest way to recover is to create a free Hirens Boot CD (on another machine) and boot your computer from this CD.  Note that you must use the "Burn Image" feature of a CD burning program to properly make this CD.  The download site for this CD and the instructions to burn the CD are at the following links:

Hirens Boot CD:  < http://www.hirensbootcd.org/download/ > (download link is at bottom in light green near a disk icon with an Arrow)
Burning Boot CD:  < http://www.hirensbootcd.org/burning/ >

After you boot from this CD (may need to change BIOS boot order), select "Mini Windows XP" and wait for a versions of Windows to come up.  After that, go to the Hirens Boot CD Menu (HBCD Menu), select "Registry", then select "Registry Restore Wizard".  Run the Restore Wizard, choosing the backup date just before your problem.  After it completes, shutdown your computer, remove the CD, and reboot your computer.

After recovering, perform a "System Restore" operation using the same restore point as with the registry restore wizard to assure system coherency:

"How to restore Windows XP to a previous State"
  < http://support.microsoft.com/kb/306084 >

Almost always, problems like this are accompanied by, if not caused by, File System corruption.  You would also be well advised to perform a disk check (chkdsk) operation with the "/R" (repair) option when convenient.  Note that this will be performed at next boot, runs before Windows fully loads, can't be interrupted, and can take upwards of a couple of hours to perform.  Backing up important files before performing this is also recommended.

"How to perform Disk Error Checking in Windows XP"
  < http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315265 >

There should be no need to upgrade to Windows 7 due to this.

HTH,
   JW




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Usually that means that XP can't find the file - probably due to some corruption in the NT File System (NTFS).

Was the issue preceded by a power interruption, aborted restart, or improper shutdown?  (this includes plug pulling, power buttons, removing the battery, etc.)

I would start by running a check disk with error correction (chkdsk  /r) from the XP Recovery Console (or Hiren's Boot CD) first.

Usually, that is all you need to do to fix the problem.

Paying no attention to the Microsoft engaged Support Engineer reply (I have never used KB307545 to fix this problem and will never suggest it) take a look at the Answer here:

http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_xp-system/after-windows-restart-and-then-no-configsystem/83d5c57f-9836-4f3a-bec8-04c7d81861d3

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