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missing/corrupt; c:\windows\system32\config\system

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I've been plagued with this same error time and time again... even after reformatting.

I'll get the missing/corrupt error message with_

I've found that it's a system hive error or something like that and have fixed it by replacing the system file with the one from the repair directory, then restoring to an earlier time using system restore.

My question is this: What causes this error and how can it be prevented?

Another question I have is in my research online about fixing this problem I've come across people who've said that using ChkDsk can cause further damage b/c it takes the bad files, renames them and places them in a folder on the boot drive which some how makes the computer unable to boot.

Is there a program out there better than Windows' ChkDsk? Also, what about a BART CD?

I've considered buying a new hard drive but have seen people do that before without it fixing the problem. Am I right to assume that there isn't one specific thing that causes this unfortunate error?
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