Hi all, I hope someone can help me restore usability to my XP SP3 installation on my Dell refurb. I've lost my original user and program settings after a repair installation.
It all started when the user told me they had an event using Firefox that necessitated rebooting their computer. Upon restarting, they got a black pre-Windows screen indicating that the SYSTEM file was not going to work. (I wished I copied the wording; I didn't.)
I tried booting off a Windows XP SP3 slipstream disc that I use for these occasions, went to the repair installation option (not the Recovery Console initially), but the XP system could not be found, just the partition.
Next I went into Recovery Console to see what registry hive files were in the CONFIG folder. All five were there - SOFTWARE, SYSTEM, DEFAULT, SAM, and SECURITY - plus one called SYSTEM.SAV with smaller size and much older file date.
I tried backing up these five files to a TMP directory, but the SYSTEM file could not be copied. I renamed SYSTEM as SYSTEM.bak and SYSTEM.SAV as SYSTEM, but that didn't help reboot or recognize as a working system as again I tried doing a repair install from CD.
Next I found similarly named files in the REPAIR folder except the SYSTEM file was not there, just one called SYSTEM.BAK. I copied all five of those files to the CONFIG folder, having backed up the original five files (minus SYSTEM, which wouldn't copy). I renamed SYSTEM.BAK from the REPAIR folder as SYSTEM once it was moved to the CONFIG folder. When I booted this time, I got a blue screen of death after the Windows splash screen.
After this, I booted using F8 to get the options; at the bottom of that screen it said that <Windows root>\system32\ntoskrnl.exe was missing or corrupt. I booted to recovery console and ntoskrnl.exe seemed to be there, but didn't try to reinstall it from disc - perhaps I should have.
The last thing I tried leading to this problem is that I booted off CD and went through the repair installation of the now listed Windows XP Professional system. I chose R and let it do its thing. It prompted me once about regional settings. It seemed to progress, maybe a little quicker than usual. However, after the whole process was over it was booting Windows as if for the first time, asking me for user IDs and giving me the chance to learn more about XP. Now Windows XP starts, but when I look at Users in control panel, I just have Admin and Guest - my original user account is not there.
However, the programs that were installed are still listed (they don't work quite right yet, either prompting me for licenses or other issues such as Net Framework which I can describe later). Also the C: drive still contains the folders associated with the original user that I'm trying to restore, which I backed up again to make sure. The Outlook data files are there, too.
Can anyone guess or suggest what my next step should be, if I hope to restore functionality to this system sooner rather than later or never? I'm about to go through Windows updates, of which there are many pending. I've thought about hunting for other registry hive files to restore, or in a different combination.
By the way, the Windows Restore doesn't show any previous restore points.
Edited by Joelie, 24 August 2015 - 03:35 PM.