windows\system32\config\system error

“How to recover from a corrupted registry that prevents Windows XP from starting”

When you start up your windows xp system and instead of going to the XP splash screen it gives you an error message that a file needed for start up of the OS is missing or corrupt. Basically it’s a registry file that has been corrupted somehow. It happens.

You need to have a backup copy of this file to overwrite the corrupted one. Also since it’s a configuration file, whatever configuration you’ve made to the computer will be lost when it’s rewritten.

This is where updated backups of the registry come in handy. Because if you regularly back up the registry on your windows xp profile, you can simply overwrite the corrupted one with your backup and not lose configuration information.

For those that don’t, you can also use your Windows XP startup disk or OS disc that you used to install the OS on the computer the first time. As I said it will rewrite the file to the original settings and you will lose current information, but you will be able to get back into your computer and can then apply changes where necessary.

In the Knowledge Base article on the Microsoft website they recommend you back up some files before replacing them, then delete them, then write new ones.

When I got this error message, I simply started the computer with the XP OS disc, chose Recovery Console, which is a DOS based interface, and copied the corrupted file (windows\system32\config\system) into a temporary folder on the C:\ drive with the md tmp command.

Then I just copied the repair version to the system32 folder, thereby overwriting the corrupted file and typed exit.

(copy c:\windows\repair\system c:\windows\system32\config\system)

The computer restarted and I was able to get back in, no problem.

Of course the information that the file held was gone as it had been overwritten with the earlier file. But I could get back into my computer and I still had the drivers on another disc. No problem.

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

Type exit to quit Recovery Console. Your computer will restart.

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