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Bootcfg /Rebuild fail (Memory related)

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Here's a rundown of events prior to my current problem:

1. A few days ago, after some doing some intensive photo editing, I shut down my PC and restarted again after a few hours. I got this message at boot-up: "Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:<Windows root>\system32\hal.dll.Please re-install a copy of the above file." I hit the reset button and the problem went away, and was able to boot normally for awhile.

2. The error message started coming about with increasing frequency, and finally hitting the reset button was unhelpful at all. I now had to use the WinXP installation cd just to boot into Windows. Eventually, even with the CD, I could not proceed any further (with just the error message stuck on my screen).

3. Most, if not all, of the various articles I've checked online about a HAL.DLL problem usually recommended this: Enter the Recovery Console of your installation CD and type "expand [cd-drive letter]:\i386\hal.dl_ c:\windows\system32," so I followed these instructions. I succeded in overwriting the old hal.dll file, but when I exit and try to boot, I still can't get into Windows.

4. I tried this after reading another article from "Michael Stevens Tech"

COPY K:\i386\ntldr C:
COPY K:\i386\ntdetect.com C:

(two other files needed - just in case)

a. Type: ATTRIB -H -R -S C:\boot.ini DEL C:\boot.ini
b. Type: BootCfg /Rebuild

My Problem now is I can't rebuild the Bootcfg. A rebuild was estimated to take just 10mins (Tim Fischer, about.com). When I attempt it, it takes about twice as long and a message reading "Setup out of memory and cannot continue" comes out everytime at the end. I've attempted this solution several times already, with an SP1 and SP3 slipstreamed installation disk (because an article said SP2 and SP3 discs can cause problems with the rebuild). No luck.

It can't be a Hard Disk problem because after doing a "chkdsk /r" on the suspect drive, I was able to do a clean install of XP in the same drive albeit to a different folder. The original C:\Windows folder wasn't overwritten. I tried it on another drive, and it installed with no hitches. I defragged the main drive while I was at it.

When I try bootcfg /list, it does not find any. I can't do a repair install because the XP installation disc doesn't offer the option (I've gathered this is because the disc can't find any installed OS prior to a clean install attempt later on. Yes, I'm familiar how to access that particular stage; in fact, after I did a clean install in another drive, the 'Press R' to repair xp option is now available, but only for that one singular installation)

My options: I am okay with a clean install if, and only if, I would be able to use my old program/applications settings. I've installed and tweaked my XP settings to a certain degree of preference that redoing it all over again just isn't the warmest idea in the world if it can be helped (several projects in the pipeline that I need to get to asap)

To summarize,

1.How do I rebuild my bootcfg, and ultimately boot into Windows with my previous settings intact?
2. If that isn't possible anymore, can I import my application settings instead into a new XP installation?

My system:
40 GB IDE HDD -20% free disk space
200 GB IDE HDD -where I successfully tried a clean install

Installation Disc - Full version Win XP Slipstreamed SP1 & SP3 CD
A backup copy of the old registry (CCleaner copy).

Any help would be very much, much appreciated.

Edited by aliengreen, 02 March 2011 - 09:08 PM.

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