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\Windows\System32\Config\System file missing or co


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#1
stevezant

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Hello

I'm sure you see this every other day here but I'm quite stuck with no way out.

Here's how it happened. An old dell 5100 laptop (XP Home, IIRC updated to SP3 (at least SP2 for sure but probably SP3), with 2 1gig chips in it. One went bad (I determined after I couldn't power on, and swapping the chips in out between the two slots showed which one wouldn't work. I never let the machine start to boot, just went into BIOS (if it came on) each time btw..) OK.

I still had my old 512MB chips so I figured why not run with 1.5G instead of 1G until I get the dead 1G chip replaced. Booted up (1st attempt at that now), Seemed OK, no errors/anomalies at all..

Started to open some txt documents up (in several folders) I'd been working on when one important one was missing. I know I didn't delete it, and a search for the document by name (which I know for sure) on the entire C drive yielded nothing. Got nervous and did a normal, orderly shutdown (no problem there), took out the 512MB chip, and when I went to power on, I was greeted with:
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 original setup CD-ROM.
Select 'r' at the first screen to start repair

A google search led me here.
I don't have the original cd anymore, but I found a CD of XP Home with SP2 and another CD with XP Home SP3, rolled in..

I tried this:
With both CD's (minus the chkdsk because I just needed the machine up quick), and it had no effect.

Exact same error each time.

I haven't tried the UBCD method, but I'm not even sure it would work seeing as how the above failed (and what I'm about to say below).

What you must know is that system restore is off because the drive only has about 60mb of free space (there are NO restore points), and I don't have any backups of anything (yes I'm terrified, yes I fouled up badly here. I should've cleaned house long ago).

Is there any foreseeable way I will be able to get back to my desktop? (very first thing I will do if I can get back into my desktop is to copy all my stuff onto a windows share on another machine. I promise that)

Thank you kindly.

I anxiously await hopeful words.

*Edit: Actually, I just tried (1st time) to see if I could get to the menu where you can choose "Safe Mode" (and all those options), and I CAN get to that part..
I don't know if that is helpful/hopeful, if that could point to another way to repair this (after what I've already done above), but I will not choose anything here and await further advice.

Also, this was most certainly caused by the mismatched ram I tried since I've run for years with the two 1G sitcks and no such issues like this until tonight..

Edited by stevezant, 02 November 2013 - 12:54 AM.

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#2
phillpower2

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:welcome: stevezant

The first thing I suggest that you do if you can is use Puppy Linux to back up any important data on the HDD in case the drive fails, when the amount of free storage space on a HDD becomes below a certain % (depending on which OS it is) the data on the drive can become corrupt and if the OS is stored on the said HDD the MBR (master boot record) can become damaged/corrupt and so prevent the OS from booting up.

===================
***Required Hardware***
CD Burner (CDRW) Drive,
Blank CD,
Extra Storage Device (USB Flash Drive, External Hard Drive)

===================

1. Save these files to your Desktop/Burn Your Live CD:
  • Download Latest Puppy Linux ISO (i.e.: lupu-528.iso)
    Download BurnCDCC ISO Burning Software

    There are instructions on how to boot from flash drive with puppy here; http://www.pendrivel...e-from-windows/

  • Open BurnCDCC with Windows Explorer
  • Extract All files to a location you can remember
  • Double Click Posted Image BurnCDCC
  • Click Browse Posted Image and navigate to the Puppy Linux ISO file you just downloaded
  • Open/Double Click that file
    IMPORTANT: Adjust the speed bar to CD: 4x DVD: 1x
  • Click Start Posted Image
  • Your CD Burner Tray will open automatically
  • Insert a blank CD and close the tray
  • Click OK
Puppy Linux Live CD will now be created
2. Set your boot priority in the BIOS to CD-ROM first, Hard Drive Second
  • Start the computer/press the power button
  • Immediately start tapping the appropriate key to enter the BIOS, aka "Setup"
    (Usually shown during the "Dell" screen, or "Gateway" Screen)
  • Once in the BIOS, under Advanced BIOS Options change boot priority to:
    CD-ROM 1st, Hard Drive 2nd
  • Open your ROM drive and insert the disk
  • Press F10 to save and exit
  • Agree with "Y" to continue
  • Your computer will restart and boot from the Puppy Linux Live CD

    Posted Image

3. Recover Your Data
  • Once Puppy Linux has loaded, it is actually running in your computer's Memory (RAM). You will see a fully functioning Graphical User Interface similar to what you normally call "your computer". Internet access may or may not be available depending on your machine, so it is recommended you print these instructions before beginning. Also, double clicking is not needed in Puppy. To expand, or open folders/icons, just click once. Puppy is very light on resources, so you will quickly notice it is much speedier than you are used to. This is normal. Ready? Let's get started.

    3a. Mount Drives
  • Click the Mount Icon located at the top left of your desktop. Posted Image
  • A Window will open. By default, the "drive" tab will be forward/highlighted. Click on Mount for your hard drive.
  • Assuming you only have one hard drive and/or partition, there may be only one selection to mount.
  • USB Flash Drives usually automatically mount upon boot, but click the "usbdrv" tab and make sure it is mounted.
  • If using an external hard drive for the data recovery, do this under the "drive" tab. Mount it now.
3b. Transfer Files.
  • At the bottom left of your desktop a list of all hard drives/partitions, USB Drives, and Optical Drives are listed with a familiar looking hard drive icon.
  • Open your old hard drive i.e. sda1
  • Next, open your USB Flash Drive or External Drive. i.e. sdc or sdb1
  • If you open the wrong drive, simply X out at the top right corner of the window that opens. (Just like in Windows)
  • From your old hard drive, drag and drop whatever files/folders you wish to transfer to your USB Drive's Window.
For The Novice: The common path to your pictures, music, video, and documents folders is: Documents and Settings >> All Users (or each idividual name of each user. CHECK All Names!) >> Documents >> You will now see My Music, My Pictures, and My Videos.

Remember to only click once! No double clicking! Once you drag and drop your first folder, you will notice a small menu will appear giving you the option to move or copy. Choose COPY each time you drag and drop.

YOU ARE DONE!!! Simply click Menu >> Mouse Over Shutdown >> Reboot/Turn Off Computer. Be sure to plug your USB Drive into another working windows machine to verify all data is there and transferred without corruption. Congratulations!



Posted Image

Let us know how it goes.
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#3
stevezant

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Couple of notes.

There were 2 partitions, sda1 (vfat 39M) and sda2 (ntfs 37G). Not sure what the vfat part is but the main drive seems to be at sda2.

(The one-click thing on puppy is annoying since my touchpad is old and apparently too sensitive; i.e., many many times just moving the mouse leads to inadvertent clicks of icons, resulting in apps opening, folder navigation, etc. real PITA.)

OK. So I've saved some critical folders onto a USB drive.

Before I continue, the one file in question I mentioned in my OP is still missing. Is there any bootable util (similar to pup) that will allow me to scan the drive for deleted files? I really need to get this txt file back and I don't want to write anything else to the drive without trying first (could be too late already with what I've done in the OP and the amount of free space I said was available.--- On this note, puppy mount shows the drive with 580M free-- this appears to be since the last time I successfully booted, the system had 1.5G of memory as opposed to the orig 2G, so the hiberfil.sys file is now 500M smaller.)
*edit: Incidentally, when I navigate to the "Recent" folder in my home directory, I see the link file to the exact text document that is missing.. before the accident, the system was powered down (hibernated) with the 2G memory. Several txt files were opened in that session. That restoration point was deleted when I powered up w/the 1.5G of mem, but that shouldn't affect the saved txt files.

You guys are great! Thanks!

Edited by stevezant, 02 November 2013 - 10:15 AM.

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#4
phillpower2

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I also am not sure what the vfat entry is :unsure:

The reason why I have suggested that you use Puppy to back up data is so that you can free up some space on the HDD by deleting rarely or unused programs such as old games etc, once you have freed up enough space you can attempt a Repair Installation of XP, run chkdsk and SFC etc, you cannot however attempt this with such low free disk space that you have at present, to reiterate please see my canned text below;

Please note that in order to avoid data corruption and/or mechanical HDD failure for data only HDDs you must always have a minimum of 10% of the HDDs overall storage capacity available as free space and between and 15 and 20% of a HDDs overall storage capacity available as free space if the OS is on it, the free space allows for information to be copied to and from the drive efficiently.

Not having the above can render a computer inoperable if the HDD concerned has the OS on it due to the MBR (Master Boot Record) becoming damaged/corrupt, please see information @ http://pcsupport.abo...sterbootrec.htm


Can I ask what AV you use, this because some like AVG and Norton take up a lot more resources than others such as Avast and MSE.
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#5
stevezant

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Couple of things.

Seems the sda1 vfat partition is some sort of dell utility partition (some dell files in there) proly boot time stuff. OK

There is no AV installed. Hasn't been for some time. (I do very regimented things here; Word, ssh shell client, ftp client, no "software", pron, etc) No unknown/unusual web sites being surfed. same actors for years..

There is currently 580M free cuz last boot I had 1.5G of RAM (2 sticks), as I stated earlier. This is what caused the whole prob.

NOW, there is only 1GB of RAM (just the one stick in there), so the hiberfil.sys file (which is there right now) can and will be reduced to 1G upon the next (hopefully) successful boot of the OS. I even think I could proly delete the hiberfil.sys file now in puppy (but I'm not sure). If I do that, I will have about 2G of free space.

BUT- is the current 580M not enough to repair? and if not, would deleting the hiberfil.sys file be OK? It would yield 2G immediately.

Also, keep in mind regarding repair I had NO system restore file at all (due to no space)

Finally, (don't know if u saw this above) before I do any new writing to the HD, Is there any bootable util (similar to pup) that will allow me to scan the drive for deleted files? So I can attempt to get back that very important text file which has vanished?

Edited by stevezant, 02 November 2013 - 11:34 AM.

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#6
phillpower2

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The amount of Ram that you have is not the problem it is the lack of space on the HDD which is preventing Windows from swapping files backwards and forwards as it needs them.

To delete the hiberfil.sys file you need to be able to boot into Windows in order to disable the system hibernation feature in the Control Panel.

I can and will suggest a software for you to try but only when there has been some storage space freed up on the HDD, the amount of free storage space should be around 12GB which is the equivalent of 15% of the overall storage capacity, this if the original 80GB HDD is still being used.
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#7
stevezant

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the partition is 37G according to puppy drive mounter (40G as advertised). I think I can copy over about 5g and delete that folder, but I don't have more space than that to copy stuff to now.. Will that be enough?

Then I'd have 5.5GB free.
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#8
phillpower2

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That should be fine with the smaller capacity HDD, let us know when you have freed up the space and I will provide the information that you need to create a Recovery Console disk.
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#9
stevezant

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OK. I've got 5.6G free.

What's next.
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#10
phillpower2

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:thumbsup:

Please download ARCDC from Artellos.com.
  • Double click ARCDC.exe
  • Follow the dialog until you see 6 options. Please pick: Windows Professional SP2 & SP3
  • You will be prompted with a Terms of Use by Microsoft, please accept.
  • You will see a few dos screens flash by, this is normal.
  • Next you will be able to choose to add extra files. Select the Extra Files.
  • Please copy the codebox below into the text area.

    C:\windows\system32\userinit.exe

  • The last window will allow you to burn the disk using BurnCDCC
Your ISO is located on your desktop.
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#11
stevezant

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does it matter that the OS in question is Win XP Home? (there is a button for XP Home SP2 & SP3..)

Not trying to jump ahead or anything, but whilst I was waiting for your reply I found 2 things. A copy of ERD Commander 2003 which I booted into. It said "Registry Hive is corrupt or missing". I didn't let it do anything and rebooted.

Winternals DiskCommander 1.1. which I booted into and searched for damage/corrupt files, and for deleted files. No sign of my "temp.txt" file. It's critical that I attempt all I can to find this file as it's years of work (like a log book of sorts for my work; notes and all).

Please bear with me as I'm dreadfully fearful that I've lost this file, and I cannot understand how or why. It should be there. When last the computer was fine (Fri noon), it was opened (along with several other txt files) when I hibernated. Later the RAM issue with one of the 1G sticks so the computer never attempted to boot. Then the addition of the 512MB which booted fine (removing old restoration) and THAT particular txt file simply was NO longer in its' containing folder- I used search; the entire C drive for "temp.txt", no hits and I shutdown, removed the extra 512MB, and never was able to power up into windows again.

So, even if I accidentally deleted the file in the past few days, it should show up as deleted/damaged whatever. I've got to make all efforts to get this file back. Maybe it got accidentally dragged into another folder and the RAM mismatch caused the search I did to not produce results. I don't know, but I'm really dismayed about this file more than any other.

apologies for being long-winded.

Edited by stevezant, 02 November 2013 - 02:51 PM.

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#12
phillpower2

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Sorry that was a blip on my behalf :blush:
Select the XP Home option please.

If we are able to repair XP I will then suggest some data recovery software for you.
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#13
stevezant

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Im just terrified that by repairing the XP *before* attempting to find the file in question, I will overwrite it on the drive (if it's somewhere deleted damaged).

Is that not a valid concern?

**OK. I've made the disc. Ready for the next step.

Edited by stevezant, 02 November 2013 - 03:06 PM.

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#14
phillpower2

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Unfortunately none of us can say for sure that any file will not be overwritten but it should not happen as you are repairing the OS and not the data files, as you are so concerned about this file you should consider backing up all of the data on the HDD using Puppy before you use the recovery console disk.
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#15
stevezant

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Thanks for the honest answer.. So I have to make a decision then..

Is there anyway to make an image of the entire dirve (all 39.whatever gigs) and save it, over the network, to a share on a windows 7 laptop I have? Such that later if needed, I could scour that image for this file?

OK, I've decided to just move on, hopefully it won't get overwritten (wher ever it is).

So I boot off the CD I previously created then?

Edited by stevezant, 02 November 2013 - 03:42 PM.

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