Q: windows\system32\config\system file missing or corrupt This thread is locked from future replies

HELP - As per above title i have done this:-

To complete part one, follow these steps:

  1. Insert the Windows XP startup disk into the floppy disk drive, or insert the Windows XP CD-ROM into the CD-ROM drive, and then restart the computer.
    Click to select any options that are required to start the computer from the CD-ROM drive if you are prompted to do so.
  2. When the "Welcome to Setup" screen appears, press R to start the Recovery Console.
  3. If you have a dual-boot or multiple-boot computer, select the installation that you want to access from the Recovery Console.
  4. When you are prompted to do so, type the Administrator password. If the administrator password is blank, just press ENTER.
  5. At the Recovery Console command prompt, type the following lines, pressing ENTER after you type each line:
    md tmp
    copy c:\windows\system32\config\system c:\windows\tmp\system.bak
    copy c:\windows\system32\config\software c:\windows\tmp\software.bak
    copy c:\windows\system32\config\sam c:\windows\tmp\sam.bak
    copy c:\windows\system32\config\security c:\windows\tmp\security.bak
    copy c:\windows\system32\config\default c:\windows\tmp\default.bak

    delete c:\windows\system32\config\system
    delete c:\windows\system32\config\software
    delete c:\windows\system32\config\sam
    delete c:\windows\system32\config\security
    delete c:\windows\system32\config\default

    copy c:\windows\repair\system c:\windows\system32\config\system
    copy c:\windows\repair\software c:\windows\system32\config\software
    copy c:\windows\repair\sam c:\windows\system32\config\sam
    copy c:\windows\repair\security c:\windows\system32\config\security
    copy c:\windows\repair\default c:\windows\system32\config\default
  6. Type exit to quit Recovery Console. Your computer will restart.

Note This procedure assumes that Windows XP is installed to the C:\Windows folder. Make sure to change C:\Windows to the appropriate windows_folder if it is a different location.

If you have access to another computer, to save time, you can copy the text in step five, and then create a text file called "Regcopy1.txt" (for example). To use this file, run the following command when you start in Recovery Console:

batch regcopy1.txt

With the batch command in Recovery Console, you can process all the commands in a text file sequentially. When you use thebatch command, you do not have to manually type as many commands.

Part two

To complete the procedure described in this section, you must be logged on as an administrator, or an administrative user (a user who has an account in the Administrators group). If you are using Windows XP Home Edition, you can log on as an administrative user. If you log on as an administrator, you must first start Windows XP Home Edition in Safe mode. To start the Windows XP Home Edition computer in Safe mode, follow these steps.

Note Print these instructions before you continue. You cannot view these instructions after you restart the computer in Safe Mode. If you use the NTFS file system, also print the instructions from Knowledge Base article KB309531. Step 7 contains a reference to the article.

  1. Click Start , click Shut Down (or click Turn Off Computer ), click Restart , and then click OK (or click Restart ).
  2. Press the F8 key.

    On a computer that is configured to start to multiple operating systems, you can press F8 when you see the Startup menu.
  3. Use the arrow keys to select the appropriate Safe mode option, and then press ENTER.
  4. If you have a dual-boot or multiple-boot system, use the arrow keys to select the installation that you want to access, and then press ENTER.

In part two, you copy the registry files from their backed up location by using System Restore. This folder is not available in Recovery Console and is generally not visible during typical usage. Before you start this procedure, you must change several settings to make the folder visible:

  1. Start Windows Explorer.
  2. On the Tools menu, click Folder options .
  3. Click the View tab.
  4. Under Hidden files and folders , click to select Show hidden files and folders , and then click to clear theHide protected operating system files (Recommended) check box.
  5. Click Yes when the dialog box that confirms that you want to display these files appears.
  6. Double-click the drive where you installed Windows XP to display a list of the folders. If is important to click the correct drive.
  7. Open the System Volume Information folder. This folder is unavailable and appears dimmed because it is set as a super-hidden folder.

    Note This folder contains one or more _restore {GUID} folders such as "_restore{87BD3667-3246-476B-923F-F86E30B3E7F8}".

    Note You may receive the following error message:
    C:\System Volume Information is not accessible. Access is denied.
    If you receive this message, see the following Microsoft Knowledge Base article to gain access to this folder and continue with the procedure:
    309531  ( ) How to gain access to the System Volume Information folder
  8. Open a folder that was not created at the current time. You may have to clickDetails on the View menu to see when these folders were created. There may be one or more folders starting with "RPx under this folder. These are restore points.
  9. Open one of these folders to locate a Snapshot subfolder. The following path is an example of a folder path to the Snapshot folder:
    C:\System Volume Information\_restore{D86480E3-73EF-47BC-A0EB-A81BE6EE3ED8}\RP1\Snapshot
  10. From the Snapshot folder, copy the following files to the C:\Windows\Tmp folder:
  11. Rename the files in the C:\Windows\Tmp folder as follows:

These files are the backed up registry files from System Restore. Because you used the registry file that the Setup program created, this registry does not know that these restore points exist and are available. A new folder is created with a new GUID under System Volume Information and a restore point is created that includes a copy of the registry files that were copied during part one. Therefore, it is important not to use the most current folder, especially if the time stamp on the folder is the same as the current time.

The current system configuration is not aware of the previous restore points. You must have a previous copy of the registry from a previous restore point to make the previous restore points available again.

The registry files that were copied to the Tmp folder in the C:\Windows folder are moved to make sure that the files are available under Recovery Console. You must use these files to replace the registry files currently in the C:\Windows\System32\Config folder. By default, Recovery Console has limited folder access and cannot copy files from the System Volume folder.

Note The procedure described in this section assumes that you are running your computer with the FAT32 file system. For more information about how to access the System Volume Information Folder with the NTFS file system, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

309531  ( ) How to gain access to the System Volume Information folder
Part Three

In part three, you delete the existing registry files, and then copy the System Restore Registry files to the C:\Windows\System32\Config folder:

  1. Start Recovery Console.
  2. At the command prompt, type the following lines, pressing ENTER after you type each line:
    del c:\windows\system32\config\sam

    del c:\windows\system32\config\security

    del c:\windows\system32\config\software

    del c:\windows\system32\config\default

    del c:\windows\system32\config\system

    copy c:\windows\tmp\software c:\windows\system32\config\software

    copy c:\windows\tmp\system c:\windows\system32\config\system

    copy c:\windows\tmp\sam c:\windows\system32\config\sam

    copy c:\windows\tmp\security c:\windows\system32\config\security

    copy c:\windows\tmp\default c:\windows\system32\config\default
    Note Some of these command lines may be wrapped for readability.
  3. Type exit to quit Recovery Console. Your computer restarts.

Note This procedure assumes that Windows XP is installed to the C:\Windows folder. Make sure to change C:\Windows to the appropriate windows_folder if it is a different location.

If you have access to another computer, to save time, you can copy the text in step two, and then create a text file called "Regcopy2.txt" (for example). To use this file, run the following command when you start in Recovery Console:

batch regcopy2.txt
Part Four
  1. Click Start , and then click All Programs .
  2. Click Accessories , and then click System Tools .
  3. Click System Restore , and then click Restore to a previous RestorePoint .

and now when I go to part four and try to log on it says that I have to activate windows in order to log on. If I click yes, the computer just hangs at my background picture, if I click no it chucks me back to the log in page.....what is going wrong with this blooming thing



PLEASE HELP - it's taken three days of messing around and effectively Ive got nowhere!!



Ooooo...    should have started here:

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

These can cause corruption in the file system which must be fixed before you do anything else.

If any of those events have occurred (or even if they have not occurred), you should verify the integrity of your file system before doing anything else (especially "trying" things).

It makes zero sense to start trying to copy files around on a hard disk that has a corrupted file system so this must be fixed first using the XP chkdsk program, and running chkdsk may resolve your issue entirely.  

Use the XP Recovery Console to verify the file system on your HDD and correct any problems and then try to boot your system - this may be all you need to do.  Or, you are welcome to just start trying things that might work.

Boot into the Windows Recovery Console using a bootable XP installation CD, or create a bootable XP Recovery Console CD. 

This is not the same as any recovery disks that might have come a store bought system.  If you are not sure what kind of bootable CD you have, make a bootable XP Recovery Console CD and  be sure.

After booting into the Recovery Console, you should be in this folder:


For each of your hard disk partitions, you should then run:

chkdsk /r

For example, from the Recovery Console prompt, enter:

chkdsk c: /r

Let chkdsk finish and correct any problems it might find.  It may take a long time to complete or appear to be 'stuck'.  Be patient.  If the HDD light is still flashing, it is doing something.  Keep an eye on the percentage amount to be sure it is still making progress.  It may even appear to go backwards sometimes.

The chkdsk /r needs to complete without any errors, so you may need to run it multiple times until it does.

Remove the CD and type 'exit' to leave the RC and restart the computer and report back with your progress.

Do, or do not. There is no try.

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Views: 185396 Last updated: February 15, 2018 Applies to: