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Windows not starting

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Well for starters sorry if this is in the wrong section...Now this happened to my mom, we arent really computer savvy which doesnt help the situation one bit...Anyways to the problem, she said her computer was running fine then Mcafee did an update and told her to restart which she did, when her computer shut down and was coming back on a black screen came up with the following on it..

"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 using the original setup cd-rom
select 'r' on the first screen to start repair.

Now I dont think the computer came with a startup disk when we bought it, if it did Im unsure if she has it, so is there anything else we can do to fix this problem? Also would trying to repair this problem erase all of her files? Would trying to use another XP disk work, and again would it erase her files?

Im assuming a system restore is always an option but she is not looking forward to the idea of starting from scratch. Thanks for the help in advance!

Edited by GoTexansGo, 09 July 2009 - 04:50 PM.

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    Math Nerd

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Try this, it's pretty lengthy but it should be able to get your system running again. If not or if you have any questions post back :)
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Well thank you for the reply...but that is also asking for the startup disk, I currently dont have one. I was hoping for a way to fix this wthout one but it appears thats not possible. Also as I asked in the first post, does this erase all of her files and does it make a difference if I would be using a different startup disk tha the one originally used on the system.
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    Malware Removal Dude

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Do you (or anyone you know) have a USB floppy drive? Even an old one? Or does your computer have a floppy drive still? Chances are you can get to the recovery console using floppies. Use the following steps:

1. Download the Windows XP Setup Floppies from Microsoft. Use this link: http://support.micro...kb/310994/en-us . Download the boot disks and copy them on to floppies. You need to select the version of windows XP you had installed. If you had SP3, use the SP2 disks.
2. Plug a USB floppy drive into your computer and boot from the floppy. Usually, just the presence of the drive (with the floppy installed) is enough to boot from floppy, but you may have to go into your computers BIOS Setup to choose a floppy boot.
3. After laboriously inserting all 6 floppy disks and watching them load, you will eventually be taken to a page where you can press "R" to get to the recovery console. Press "R".
4. You're in!

Once you get there, continue with the Manual steps as instructed here:

Edited by NeonFx, 09 July 2009 - 05:46 PM.

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No I do not have a usb floopy drive, hadnt even heard of it till you said something and looked it up lol. No floppy drive either...Again thank you for your reply and any other further help or suggestions is much appreciated.
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    Kraków my love :)

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If you have Windows CD...(if you don't have Windows CD, scroll down)

1. Insert your Windows XP CD into your CD and assure that your CD-ROM drive is capable of booting the CD.
2. Once you have booted from CD, do NOT select the option that states: Press F2 to initiate the Automated System Recovery (ASR) tool.
You’re going to proceed until you see the following screen, at which point you will press the “R” key to enter the recovery console:

Posted Image

3. After you have selected the appropriate option from step two, you will be prompted to select a valid Windows installation (typically number “1″).
Select the installation number, and hit Enter.
If there is an administrator password for the administrator account, enter it and hit Enter (if asked for the password, and you don't know it, you're out of luck).
You will be greeted with this screen, which indicates a recovery console at the ready:

Posted Image

4. There are eight commands you must enter in sequence to repair your problem..
I will introduce them here, and then show the results graphically in the next six steps.
NOTE. Make sure, you press Enter after each command. Make sure, all commands are exact, including "spaces".
These commands are as follows:

ATTRIB -H C:\\boot.ini
ATTRIB -S C:\\boot.ini
ATTRIB -R C:\\boot.ini
del boot.ini
BOOTCFG /Rebuild

Note about the above command.
BOOTCFG /REBUILD command which searches for pre-existing installations of Windows XP and rebuilds sundry essential components of the Windows operating system, recompiles the BOOT.INI file and corrects a litany of common Windows errors.
It is very important that you do one or both of the following two things:
A.) Every Windows XP owner must use /FASTDETECT as OS Load Option when the rebuild process is finalizing.
B.) If you are the owner of a CPU featuring Intel’s XD or AMD’s NX buffer overflow protection, you must also use /NOEXECUTE=OPTIN as an OS Load Option.
For the Enter Load Identifier portion of this command, you should enter the name of the operating system you have installed.
If, for example, you are using Windows XP Home, you could type Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition for the identifier (it's not crucial, however what the name is, as long, as it's meaningful).
Here is your computer screen:

Posted Image

5. Following command verifies the integrity of the hard drive containing the Windows XP installation. While this step is not an essential function in our process, it’s still good to be sure that the drive is physically capable of running windows, in that it contains no bad sectors or other corruptions that might be the culprit:


6. This last command writes a new boot sector to the hard drive and cleans up all the loose ends we created by rebuilding the BOOT.INI file and the system files. When the Windows Recovery Console asks you if you are Sure you want to write a new bootsector to the partition C: ? just hit “Y”, then Enter to confirm your decision:


7. It’s time to reboot your PC by typing
and pressing Enter.

With any luck, your PC will boot successfully into Windows XP as if your various DLL, Hive, EXE and NTLDR errors never existed.

If you don't have Windows CD...
Download Windows Recovery Console: http://www.thecomput...om/files/rc.iso
Download, and install free Imgburn: http://www.imgburn.c...hp?act=download
Using Imgburn, burn rc.iso to a CD.
Boot to the CD...let it finish loading.
When the "Welcome to Setup" screen appears, press R to start the Recovery Console.
Then, follow instructions from Step #3 above.
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