How do I fix "Windows XP could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt"?

Apparently the file C:\windows\system32\config\system is missing from my computer. I have done nothing to make this happen.

I have tried repairing using the Windows XP installation CD, but to no avail.

Please help, there's too much stuff on my computer that I can't bear to lose :(


I have been told that reinstalling Windows will wipe everything from my laptop. This really must be the the last straw for me. I need to go through all other options first.

14 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    this problem occurs when you try to update drivers in the computer..sometimes windows XP cannot update the driver and that corrupts system.ini file as it has a lot of bad entries..Due to this you will get this error mesage..No its not due to virus.its due to an attempt to change system.ini file

    Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM

    That means the System Registry Hive has become corrupted.

    There are two ways to get back up and running. The easy way which doesn't always work, and then there is the hard way.

    Easy Way --- Note that this doesn't always work.

    When you are booting your system, press the F8 key during the start of the bootup sequence, meaning after it does the Power On Self Test.

    Once you press the F8 key, you will be taken to a Menu. Select "Boot Using Last Known Good Configuration".

    It will now attempt to load Windows XP using a past set of configuration files.

    If that doesn't work, there is the next step....the hard way.

    Hard Way-Insure boot from CD is selected in BIOS.

    Boot your system with the Windows XP Install CD, let the system boot into the Setup. Once in the Setup, choose to run the Recovery Console.

    You will now be presented with a screen similar to good old DOS.

    First, we will recover the System Hive.

    Now, type in the following commands with pressing Enter after each line.

    md tmp

    copy C:\windows\system32\config\system C:\windows\tmp\system.bak

    delete C:\windows\system32\config\system

    copy C:\windows\repair\system C:\windows\system32\config\system

    Be very careful when you are typing in these commands, one wrong move, and you have, broken Windows XP.

    Also, change the C in the commands to whatever your Windows XP drive letter is.

    Attempt to boot the system, if it doesn't boot, get back into the Recovery Console and do the following commands.

    md tmp

    copy C:\windows\system32\config\software C:\windows\tmp\software.bak

    delete C:\windows\system32\config\software

    copy C:\windows\repair\software C:\windows\system32\config\software

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Reinstall Windows.

  • 1 decade ago

    90% chance u have a virus that deletes that system file every time u repair... there's no way that u can fix that unless you somehow can get windows to start before it gets deleted... and get the files onto a flashdrive or another computer... the only other thing to try is reeinstall windows without wiping the hard drive...

  • 1 decade ago

    You need to reinstall Windows. However, you can backup your data first. Get a USB drive (if you don't have one, they're fairly cheap now). Then, boot a recovery CD such as Knoppix ( ) or BartPE ( ). Either will allow you to browse through the files on your hard drive then copy the important ones to USB.

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  • 1 decade ago

    If you have the original windows XP disc then just try to put it back in and click on explore disc and then click on restore or fix and it should put back the file its missing.

    If the disk says auto run cancel it just go to my computer and hit explore and do everything I wrote above

  • 1 decade ago

    Use The System Restore

    Use can restore your computer by how it used to be,

    but everything that you have done after that date, you want to restore

    your system to will be gone, so you should put the stuff that you recently

    saved onto your computer onto a flashdrive.

    Good Luck.

  • 1 decade ago

    Either follow this:

    Or create a BartPE disc:

    Use the registry recovery tool to restore the register to an earlier date.

    After the PC reboots OK do a normal system restore to make sure that it in sync.

    If there are disc problems you may have to rename the Original file.

  • 1 decade ago

    reinstalling windows will not lose everything, however programs themselves may need to be installed. Just don't format the disk first.

    If you can get it to run in safe mode see if you can reset back to a restore point.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It happened to me the day before yesterday.

    I did try to repair. but I was asked for an adminstrtion pass word. I do not have one, so I could not repair.

    I had to format my computer and reinstall Windows XP.

    For me it is not too bad, because I have the cd, have all the drivers.

    Within 40 minutes I was back on the internet.

    Took me a couple of hours to install all my software etc again. but that is fun. so I did not mind.

  • 1 decade ago

    You have two options, you can either try your luck with a professional who MIGHT be able to fix it or you will have to go through a complete re-install.

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