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Corrupt "System" file; XP won't start

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#1 teckalypso


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Posted 04 March 2013 - 03:52 PM

For several days over the past 2 weeks, when I booted my PC it went into a "CHKDSK" mode on drive C: only. I don't know where it was getting that command from. Sometimes I skipped the process before it began, but a few times I let it run. Each time, it found at least one unreadable file, and deleted it from the folder it was in. Then the PC would continue to start up normally.


Two nights ago, I shut it down normally. When I went to start it the next time, I got this message:

" Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \Windows\system32\config\system ".


The PC I'm using is about 10 years old, and was given to me a couple of years ago by a friend who was upgrading his system. It came with two versions of XP already installed: XP Home Edition, English; and XP Professional (a different language). I don't have the original installation disks for either one. However, I do have an XP Pro CD of my own (that includes SP2) that I've owned for several years and which I used on a previous PC. I tried using that CD to run the "repair" mode, but it failed -- I'm guessing that's either because the 25-character installation codes don't match, or because you can't use a Pro version CD to repair a corrupted Home version. 


Ever since I started using this newer ( :lmao:) PC, I've been choosing to start up with the English Home Edition, so of course all my subsequent documents and installed programs are connected to that version, and not to the Pro version.


I tried booting in Safe Mode, Last Known Good Configuration, etc but I get stopped by the same error message. Then I started the Professional version, thinking perhaps I could copy its System file to the other OS, but not only is its file about twice the size (13 MB vs 7 MB), when I tried to paste it I got a message saying it was in use and couldn't be manipulated. Then I thought of going into the DOS screen (using the CMD command from RUN), but when I tried to access the relevant folders to do a "copy E:...\system C:..." , I got an "access denied" message.


I don't want to do a complete re-install just yet, because as I understand it, that will wipe out all my applications and documents. Besides that, I would be installing using my Pro CD, not a Home CD. Does anyone have a recommended way that I can fix this, perhaps by sending me a copy of the XP Home "System" file that I can copy into the relevant directory to overwrite the corrupted file?


Also, how do I locate and delete the command that's activating the CHKDSK function at startup? Is CHKDSK responsible for the current corruption problem?


The XP Home edition is stored on drive C: (partition (1)), and the XP Pro is located on drive E: (partition (3)).




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#2 hamluis



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Posted 04 March 2013 - 04:28 PM

FWIW:  When chkdsk starts automatically, with no user intervention...it's normally an indication of a file system/hard drive problem.  The reason that chkdsk initiates on its own is that Windows is trying to overcome what it views as a problem with the files/file system (Windows files or the NTFS partition).


Chkdsk cannot repair problems with anything other than the files...if the problem is the file system or with the hard drive itself....chkdsk will try but it won't be effective.


IME...I just run the chkdsk /r command anytime that chkdsk initiates on its own.  The chkdsk /r command is more comprehensive than the chkdsk which initiates on its own...in that it will try to rescue files from bad sectors.  Thus the chkdsk /r command is the better command users should utilize, rather than just assuming that because the chkdsk was allowed to run...there is no problem.


Start/Run...type chkdsk /r and hit Enter.  Type Y in new screen and hit Enter.  Reboot the system, the command will execute and boot into Windows when completed.


<<" Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \Windows\system32\config\system ".>>


This message is an indication that the Windows registry is damaged, see Corrupted Registry, Config.sys Missing or Corrupt - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/307545 .


In addition to the MS guidance, see post by AustrAlien at http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/t/441257/missing-windowssystems32configsystem/ .



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