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  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    XP lost registry files at shutdown - not booting

    I'm using XP SP3 fully updated. A few days ago while doing something routine (swapping files out of MP3 player) it just stopped and rebooted. Then I got the BSOD and it would not boot. It went into a cycle of trying to boot, getting the BSOD, trying to boot again .... etc. I had to stop the machine with a long hold on the power button.

    When I powered it up again I got a message that is could not find the file,
    C:\windows\system32\config\system

    I googled around and found that system32\config is the place where the registry files are recorded at shutdown so they can be found at bootup.

    I have a Puppy Linux CD and booted with that. The HDD checked out OK and I could look through the directory structure OK, until I came to C:\WINDOWS\system32\config. At that point even Puppy went black screen on me. There seemed to be some problem with the directory that even linux complained about it.

    I found a Puppy forum page that had instructions for getting into the registry backup files and moving a set of them from a few days before into the \config directory. These instructions allowed me into the directory without mounting the HDD, I imagine it's like brain surgery under anesthetic.
    http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/vie...582158&t=37615

    I followed the directions and they worked fine. XP booted up as normal.

    The next day (today) I got the same message:
    "Can't find C:\windows\system32\config\system"

    And I was back where I was the day before.

    So I got Puppy Linux out and did the fix again. It booted up OK. And that is where I now am. I'm nervous about turning the machine off in case this behavior continues.

    Does anybody have any wisdom about what is happening here?
    How do I get the registry working properly again?

  2. #2
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    It would seem like you are having some disk issues. I would create a full backup of the disk (create a image backup, if you have one, if you haven't, forum members recommend Macrium reflect free) and then run a chkdsk /F or even chkdsk /R. See what chkdsk tells you in the end, but probably face the option to buy a new disk, if disk issues are confirmed. In that case, your image can be great to get you started on the new disk - you can get your system back in full just by applying the image to a new disk.

  3. #3
    New Lounger
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    OK, here's an update.

    I started another application and it came up with a 'can't find file' error. It was a DLL file that was missing. I looked through my external backup drive and found the file in all full backups there, in the windows\system directory. So I picked the file up to drag it into the original \system directory and it would not move. I tried to pick up another file and found that Windows Explorer was not performing. It would not drag, and it would copy but not paste - there was no paste entry in the menu.

    I then went looking in the c:\windows\system directory, and it was totally empty. Nothing.

    Luckily I have another file manager so I closed Explorer, opened the other one, and brought the whole \system directory from the backup drive to the main drive.

    My problem app would then open.
    I opened Explorer and it is dragging files OK again.

    I've set a new system restore point and am about to turn off the computer to see if it will boot up again.

    Oh yeah, another odd thing. In my START menu, where the last six used apps are, there is an entry for AOL Instant Messenger License. I have no idea what that is doing there. It has just appeared. I have never had AOL anything on here.
    Last edited by Doctor Shifty; 2011-04-23 at 07:31.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    After you you have run a full and complete AV/AM scan you could do a repair install of the operating system.
    I would want to look through the event viewer to see if some of your installed applications aren't faulty as well.
    Consider uninstalling those that are and reinstalling after the repair install.

  5. #5
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    I would also try the repair install. An Image at this point would probably contain all the problems presently on the OS. Hopefully a repair install will get the OS back to operating order, then perhaps you will need to update through Windows Update again. Hopefully the repair install will fix your problems, then definitely create an full disk image.

    This could also be a hardware problem. As previously stated a good clean Image will help to restore if a new HD is needed. Good luck!

    p.s. If you cannot get the good Image because of hardware problems you may be left with no alternative except a complete reinstall. If this is the case, this might be a great time to consider an upgrade to Win 7, just a thought.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
    Have a Great Day! Ted


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  6. #6
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    My advice for an image has a simple rationale: get a copy of what you have and that you know is a point that you can recover from.
    Once you recover from the situation and you feel safe, dump the image, but until then, use it as a point you can return to, in case something goes wrong.

  7. #7
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    Good advice! Just do not keep this Image as a good Image once you have recovered fully. I would rather see you make an Image to keep once everything is fixed! I would also suggest after that point to re-create an Image whenever you make changes to your system so that restoration is quicker when something else fails. Remember that the Image will take you back to where it was created, but if several months, and several new apps, or several updates have occured these will all have to be redone unless you have created an Up To date Image.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
    Have a Great Day! Ted


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  8. #8
    New Lounger
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    The next update

    Thanks for the advice everybody. Here's where the system is now.

    I rebooted after restoring the \system directory files as in my previous update. It booted fine and everything runs properly. My guess is that having an empty \system directory was the cause of the registry files not being saved at shutdown, or found at boot - whichever one was the real culprit. Perhaps there is a vital DLL in there.

    I have gone through the installed apps and uninstalled lots of stuff that I don't use any more. That should clear up some autoloaders as well.
    I've scanned the thing with Malwarebites and Windows Essential Security, nothing shows any problems.
    I already run Scotty the watchdog (forget the proper app name) so no app loads any startups without my permission.

    I've given some thought to going to Win7, just haven't made the jump. This is an IDE system and with the possibility of having to buy a new main HDD I went looking, IDE discs are not longer available, so it was also looking like an upgrade to a whole new computer for a while there. That's still on the horizon as well.

    When I was trying to fix this I tried doing a repair install but that portion of the CD loader didn't show up. All I got was the restore console, the first of the Repair options. I did not get the second "press R' option. It might be that with something missing from the \system directory the CD loader wouldn't work properly either. However, I will give that a go again with the \system directory filled up so I know I've got a cleaner XP on here.

    At the moment the thing is running fine. I'll do a disc scan for bad sectors, defrag the HDD and the registry, and get a decent disc image done as part of my regular backup regime. Currently it does a full every 8 days and an incremental every day.

    Thanks again.

    Now, let's get back to those Easter eggs.

  9. #9
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Shifty View Post

    When I was trying to fix this I tried doing a repair install but that portion of the CD loader didn't show up. All I got was the restore console, the first of the Repair options. I did not get the second "press R' option. It might be that with something missing from the \system directory the CD loader wouldn't work properly either. However, I will give that a go again with the \system directory filled up so I know I've got a cleaner XP on here.
    The repair install should come directly from the installation DVD, or the Repair CD/DVD you created. If your Bios is set to check CD/DVD drive before HD, all your boot files should be loaded from the CD/DVD rather than the HD. In this case I suspect perhaps the Bios boot order is not set to check the optical media first, or you do not have an installation disk or repair disk. If this is the case, make a repair disk once things are fixed. In Win 7 this is under Backup and Restore. I do not recall where this disk is created in XP, sorry.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
    Have a Great Day! Ted


    Sony Vaio Laptop, 2.53 GHz Duo Core Intel CPU, 8 GB RAM, 320 GB HD
    Win 8 Pro (64 Bit), IE 10 (64 Bit)


    Complete PC Specs: By Speccy

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