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Is this laptop a lost cause? registry corruption, and more.

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I am absolutely at my wits end, and I really don't know if there is any way to save this laptop. But I'd like to at least ask and make certain.

This is not my laptop. It is a friend of a friends' who for some reason seems bent on having me work on it, even though I'm mediocre at best, and bumbling at least.

This is a Dell Inspiron 1525 Laptop, with Windows XP Professional

The history behind this mess:
As I understand it, the owner of the laptop had Norton Antivirus installed upon purchase. For some reason, they also had a CD of Macafee. The laptop worked fine, as near as I was told, until randomly, the laptop owner's brother decided to install the Macafee for her.
The computer then bluescreened.
Thats when It came to me. I used the XP CD to repair, and that finally allowed the computer to boot back up. When this happened, I thought that I was finished (as the blue screen was the only problem I was told about) so I removed Macafee (even though Norton wasn't showing) shut down and sent the laptop back to the owner. She came back complaining that Firefox was not working.

After much gnashing of teeth and laboring over what in the world was wrong with this laptop, I finally came to the conclussion that the registry paths had become corrupt in some way. I threw my hands up, and told the owner to just take the thing back to Dell and get them to backup info and fresh install.

That was a few months ago. Now, for whatever reason, the thing has come back to me, without going to Dell. :)
I wanted to try and help, so I decided to have another look and see if I could do anything to fix the registry. I came across instructions for fixing a corupt registry using the Setup CD, and followed those instructions for the recovery console.
I was in the middle of the instructions, going down the list of commands:
copy c:\windows\system32\config\system c:\windows\tmp\system.bak
copy c:\windows\system32\config\software c:\windows\tmp\software.bak
copy c:\windows\system32\config\sam c:\windows\tmp\sam.bak
copy c:\windows\system32\config\security c:\windows\tmp\security.bak
copy c:\windows\system32\config\default c:\windows\tmp\default.bak

When I entered the bolded command, instead of working, as the others, this one stated that the file could not be found. This is, I think, where the further fubaring began. (Please, as you roll your eyes at me from this point on, remember that I was forced into this task, and never claimed to be able to do any of this, and I'm sorry ;_:)
When that failed, it exited out of the recovery console and began to reboot. I had high hopes that the computer was going to boot up correctly, and the registry would be free of invalid/incorrect paths.
Instead, I got a boot loop stating "When trying to update a password this return status undicated that the value provided as the current password is not correct". I researched this error and started to worry very much because many stated that this error was not fixable. Then, a beam of light, I came upon a thread which had a good many people offering solutions. One of which stated that they had used their fix 3 times successfully. I decided to use their fix.
This is the post that I began to follow.

This seemed to be working great, until I got the point where you reboot and log into the corrupted user and delete the new user made. Because the corrupted user doesn't show. Only this new user. There is a folder for the corrupted user in the Documents and Settings folder. This looks like the average user folder, but for some reason, the computer does not give me the option to log into this user. So now I am sitting on the laptop with a User and a blank OS and I have no clue what to do. The information is sitting there mocking me, and I just have this sinking feeling that there is no way to restore the old user.

Please help, if you can. And do not yell too hard at me. I know that I have caused extra grief on this, but I was only trying to help, and protested doing it the entire time. -_-

Thank you.
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Hi Dolibesta,

The best advice I can offer would be to give UBCD4Win a try. It includes many tools to repair various Windows issues. In particular, the Registry Repair Wizard might do the trick. If all else fails you can always copy any data to be saved and perform a clean install. Which may be the best choice.

Link: UBCD4Win
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Hello Dolibesta...

Looks like you have quite a mess on your hands.

Is the CD you are using the Recovery CD from Dell that's for that particular machine? Do you have the product key for it? (On Dell laptops, it should be on a sticker on the bottom of the machine.)

Trying to recover from registry corruption without knowing what caused it can be pretty tricky. It may be better to go a different route and put a parallel installation of Windows on there, move the data across to the new installation, and remove the broken installation. Most Dell CDs and all Retail Windows CDs will allow for this.

Boot to the Windows XP installation cd by pressing a key when the "Press any key to boot from cd" prompt appears at the top of the screen.

  • At the "Welcome to Setup" screen, press Enter to set up Windows XP.
  • Accept the License Agreement by pressing F8
  • With your current installation selected in the box, press Esc
  • Select C: Partition1 [NTFS] in the box and press Enter
  • To continue setup using this partition, press C
  • Now you should see formatting options...choose the last one, Leave the current file system intact (no changes), and press Enter
  • To use a different folder, press Esc
  • Name the folder WINDOWS0 (just type a 0 (zero)) and press Enter
The Windows installation should begin. This will install Windows to a new folder, leaving your data intact. Any programs installed on the old directory will have to be reinstalled to the new one. Device drivers will also have to be installed for all the hardware to work as it should...some Dell installs will do this automatically.

Each time you start you will be prompted for which operating system to start...the new installation will be the default (top - selected) choice.

The data will be located in the Documents and Settings folder (C:\Documents and Settings) under the old user account name...so when you set up the new installation, give the new account a slightly different user account name.

Once this has been accomplished, we'll remove the old Windows installation, remove the prompt for which operating to start, and do some cleanup.
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Oh yeah, and there was one other odd thing that I noticed during this whole process. When I went to restore, and you select which drive to restore, there were two listings, where I think generally there is only 1:


What is this F drive? It does not show in the My Computer area. Is this a possible backup of the computer in it's original state? Because if that's at all possible, I could just transfer the files and gladly start it over fresh.

@wannabe1: Actually, I think that all of the things that you have just stated have already happened when trying to follow the steps in the other thread for fixing the boot loop error.
I already have a clean OS now on the laptop, with old files in the Documents and Settings area. I just have no clue what was installed on this program when it came, and how to get them back onto it, so I was hoping that there was some way of actually getting back into the corrupted user which had all of this information (incorrectly pathed as it may have been).

There isn't a way to get the computer to recognize the old user from the folders and info in the Documents and Settings, is there?

Edited by Dolibesta, 08 June 2009 - 05:41 PM.

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