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Help! Windows can't boot


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#1
elenah

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Ok I have run into the dreaded message

Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt : \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM
You can attempt to repair this file by starting Windows Setup.
Select 'r' at the first screen to start repair.

Little history about the pc. It's a Dell over 7 years and is just being used by my son for his homework. It came with Windows 98 but my now-ex husband apparently had someone install Windows XP (not even sure what version) on it (I guess that makes it an illegal copy.) That beind said I don't even have a disk to even get to the RC. I don't want to fix the pc with the current OS on it as I don't want to be someone using pirated software, I want to make it right so I have been looking at buying a new OS for it.

Is it possible to install a new genuine OS to override the corrupt one or do I need to address this problem first? I've done a lot of research about this problem but I'm not very technically 'smart'. Would it be wise to maybe take the HD in to a repair shop and see what they can do? :)
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#2
elenah

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Furthermore, I was wondering if it would be worth it to just buy a new hard drive instead of just the new Windows OS?
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#3
hfcg

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Hello, and welcome to Geeks To Go.
I am glad that you want to get a legal OS.
If you buy a new hard drive you will still have to buy an OS. Hard drives do not come with software installed on them.
Since your computer is old enough to have come with Windows 98 I would not suggest putting $300.00+ into it. You would be better off putting the money in to a new computer.
Thank you.
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#4
elenah

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Thanks for your response. And yes, the pc originally came with Windows 98 which I have just recently found the recovery cd for. Is it possible to revert back to Windows 98 until I buy a new pc (or whatever), just so that my son can continue to do his homework on this pc?

Thanks for you help!!

Edited by elenah, 22 January 2008 - 11:07 AM.

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#5
hfcg

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Yes, you can revert back if you do a fresh (clean/full) install.
You will lose all of your data and programs.
Can you back up your data? (documents, pictures, music).
Some programs will not work with 98.
Some devices will not work with 98.
Unless you have Windows 98 SE (second edition) you will not have any USB. (no flash drives, no printers, no anything that uses USB)
Thank you.
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#6
elenah

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OK so for temporary fix I think I'd like to revert back to Windows 98, I'd prefer not to spends hundreds of $ on a new pc that's just for homework.
I have 2 disks that originally came when I purchased this pc. The first one is the Dell Product Recovery Cd-Windows 98 Second Edition. The second one is a floppy Boot Disk fro Windows 98. Which one should I use? I have nothing on the pc that needs to be backed-up and even if there was stuff on there I don't think I can back it up anyway. So how do I go about performing a full clean/install?

Thanks!!
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#7
hfcg

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Hello,
Use the CD. The floppy is used after the CD.
If your computer is not set to start off of the CD you will need to set it to do so.
When the computer is starting up press F2 (repeatedly until it goes beeeep)
select boot options
follow the on screen instructions to set the CD as the first boot device.
Let the computer start from the CD and follow the on screen instructions to do a full install\recovery.
Let me know if you have any problems.
Thank you.
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#8
Ztruker

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The Dell recovery CD may not be bootable. If it is, ignore the rest of this post :)

If not, you need to boot the floppy disk and select the first option to start with CD-ROM support. Once the boot ends, you need to do the following:

Run fdisk
Delete the existing Non-DOS partition if it is NTFS
Create a new partition

You will have to reboot at this point.

Boot the diskette again and select CD-ROM support.
Format C:

Your CD drive should be E: so you need to enter e:\setup to begin the Windows 98 SE install.
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