View Full Version : Windows error: "File c:\windows\system32\config\system missing or corrupt"

16-04-2006, 01:29 AM
Some weeks ago I posted a message asking for help with Windows XP failing to start because of the error given in the title above. This error struck me twice on 2 different computers when I tried to do a system restore, and I ended up re-installing windows. A few minutes ago it hit me again after I compressed the registry using V-Com's SystemSuite 6. I have checked a couple of Windows forums, and this error seems to crop up fairly frequently for some reason. I don't know what is going on, but I want to pass on the way I got round the problem on this latest occasion.

I re-booted my PC with Bart's PE bootable CD. When I looked in C:\windows\system32\config I found 3 files with .BAK extensions: software.bak, system.bak & sam.bak - I should have found files software, system & sam (no extension). These, of course, are registry files.

I copied the .bak files to a different partition for safe keeping, then I renamed them in the c:\...\config\ folder by deleting the .bak extension.

Next, I took a deep breath, uttered a short prayer, and rebooted. Windows fired up as usual, and (so far) everything seems to be running OK.

Three times in just over a month on 2 different machines, and I had never encountered this error before in years of using Windows. It's nice that I managed to recover this time so easily, but why is it happening at all?

Question: has one of Microsoft's updates broken something in Win XP that causes restoration of the registry to fail?

16-04-2006, 07:02 AM
I'm pretty sure we had this error on our eldest daughters PC a few weeks ago with the advise to boot from the Wnidows XP cd and take the R-Repiar option.

I did this, hit Enter at the Admin Password prompt (crossed fingers), and once the repair finshed we were able to log back into windows.

I then did a spyware check withe Adaware and Spybot and surprise-surprise discovered a number of items to be deleted. Apparently although K had religously updated both problems she must have been asleep when she was told to run the tests frequently.

Might just have a peek at her machine later on to see if those files exist as *.bak extensions

16-04-2006, 11:34 AM
sounds like yours has had a few registry failers, which is why the reg has .bak on it.

sometimes its software caused and also sometimes hardware. can be tricky finding the actuall cause.

btw the actuall repair method is to copy the reg out of sytem restore (the oldest copy) then boot pc into safe mode (useing new reg) and then use system restore to restore it back to a restore point.

18-04-2006, 10:18 AM
Thanks to Tweak'e & TeejayR for those responses. I realise that by renaming the .bak files I was short-circuiting the procedure recommended by Microsoft, but when something like this hits at midnight you get pretty desperate!

What still bothers me is why this is happening at all. In my experience the repeated occurence of this error is something new. As Tweak'e says, the reasons are likely to be complex and difficult to resolve. I doubt it is hardware (two computers at almost the same time), but I don't feel like progressively uninstalling my software to see what is causing the trouble.

Life was so much easier with Dos 3.1 (sigh...)

18-04-2006, 12:30 PM
You're obviously a power user, and you'll know the registry is central to Windows sanity.

I personally avoid *anything*, even commercial products, that attempt to "fix" or "compress" the registry outside Windows.

If the registry really needs cleaning or compressing, I'd rebuild the PC / image from scratch.

Long and short of it, I'd be mighty suspicous of V-Com's SystemSuite registry tools.

Graham L
18-04-2006, 03:02 PM
Looks as if it's another case of too much "fixing". There's another applicable word which we're not allowed to use here.

"If it's not broken, don't fix it" has always been a good rule.

19-04-2006, 10:55 AM
Well, yes, I should hang my head in shame and swear never to tinker again (yeah, right). On the other hand, my problems orginally began with good ol' Windows System Restore.

In defence of SystemSuite, I have always found its registry fix option reliable and safe, provided you use it carefully and take notice of the information it provides. (OK, that's the opt-out clause). I wouldn't touch some of the other "registry utilities" available with the proverbial barge-pole.

Incidentally, kingdragonfly, did you mean to write "the registry is central to Windows insanity"? :)

15-08-2006, 04:44 PM
try going into the recovery console and typing "chkdsk /r" this will scan and repair damaged sectors.

This happened to me when I installed SP2 and XP display drivers for my 7900GT. I'm really kinda pissed that I'm having so many problems with this new comp, but hey, I've had worse with the one I'm typing on now, and after I got through em it's run almost continuously for 3 years. It's not good, I know, but with the magnitude of stuff I download, shutting my comp down isn't really an option :P