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Missing or corrupt files on Windows XP




1:25 pm on Nov 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I haven't used my laptop for a few weeks and now when I try to switch it on I get this error:

Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:


You can attempt to repair this file by starting windows setup using the orginal setup CD-rom. Selet "r" at the first sreen to start repair.

I've booted from Windows CD and had to run a repair overnight, which took about 6 hours! This has not fixed the problem and I still get the same error. I suspect the problem is to do with overheating or possibly the battery not charging correctly. Laptop is a Fujitsu and is about four years old, so it always has to be plugged into the wall.

Looks like I need to try and fix the registry manually. Any suggestion on how to fix this without having to do a clean install? I don't really want to open it up and start messing around with RAM or other hardware. Also don't want to make unnesessary regedit changes.

[edited by: SilverLining at 1:36 pm (utc) on Nov. 3, 2006]


4:37 pm on Nov 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator bill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I guess the first question I would as is why do you suspect the problem is to do with overheating or possibly the battery not charging correctly? What's the evidence you have to support this?

Then, why this comment?

Looks like I need to try and fix the registry manually.

Overheating and battery levels are hardware problems, not software. How does that lead to a registry edit? I'm not clear on the connection here.


11:17 am on Nov 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks Bill. That is true.

The reason I suspected the hardware was because the laptop kept shutting down as if it was not getting enough power.

The initial symptoms seemed to indicate that it is hardware related (plus some articles I found online), however I found an article which suggested I should fix the system32 files. The possibility of dealing with two separate issues is there, but from your insightful post it could have absolutely nothing to do with the battery.

Below are Microsoft's suggested commands to type at the recovery console command prompt to fix missing or corrupt system32 files:

md tmp
copy c:\windows\system32\config\system c:\windows\tmp\system.bak
copy c:\windows\system32\config\software c:\windows\tmp\software.bak
copy c:\windows\system32\config\sam c:\windows\tmp\sam.bak
copy c:\windows\system32\config\security c:\windows\tmp\security.bak
copy c:\windows\system32\config\default c:\windows\tmp\default.bak

delete c:\windows\system32\config\system
delete c:\windows\system32\config\software
delete c:\windows\system32\config\sam
delete c:\windows\system32\config\security
delete c:\windows\system32\config\default

copy c:\windows\repair\system c:\windows\system32\config\system
copy c:\windows\repair\software c:\windows\system32\config\software
copy c:\windows\repair\sam c:\windows\system32\config\sam
copy c:\windows\repair\security c:\windows\system32\config\security
copy c:\windows\repair\default c:\windows\system32\config\default

I have not yet attempted the above changes, as I was hoping that at least one person on this forum could steer me in the right direction and maybe suggest a better solution.

I can understand that it probably is frustrating for guys like you to answer stupid questions like these, but at the end of the day I have no experience fixing stuff like this.

Thank you for taking the time to post a reply!


12:21 pm on Nov 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I've just tried to repair it again. Booted from Windows CD and pressed "r" to get to the Recovery Console. When one needs to select the Operating System to boot from it only displays C:\Windows as an option and not Windows XP as I would expect. On selecting #1 it takes you to command prompt.

I created the backup files as suggested by MS, and deleted the original system files (which are backed up), but "copy c:\windows\repair\system c:\windows\system32\config\system" gives a "the system cannot find the file specified" error.


I do have a repair folder, but it's empty. How to fix?


11:27 pm on Nov 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator bill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

This isn't necessarily an easy question so that's why there aren't a lot of people jumping in with advice.

I'm wondering whether you actually performed a repair install. You have mentioned Recovery Console and that is not the area you want to go to in the repair install process.

At the "Welcome To Setup" screen you have 3 options:

This portion of the Setup program prepares Microsoft Windows XP to run on your computer:

  • To setup Windows XP now, press ENTER.

  • To repair a Windows XP installation using Recovery Console, press R.

  • To quit Setup without installing Windows XP, press F3.

  • You want to choose To setup Windows XP now, press ENTER., NOT the Recovery Console option!

    After accepting the license agreement you select the XP installation you want to repair from the list and press R to start the repair. If Repair is not one of the options, you should END setup.


    9:04 am on Nov 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

    10+ Year Member

    You are correct in thinking I selected the incorrect option.

    I have taken your advice and now selected the first option. I accepted the XP Licensing Agreement.

    This takes me to the XP Pro setup window. The only options displayed are:

    The following list shows the existing partitions and unpartitioned space on this computer.

  • To set up Windows XP on the selected item, press ENTER.
  • To create a partition in the unpartitioned space, press C.
  • To delete the selected partition, press D.

    C: Partition1
    D: Partition2
  • I selected Partition1 and pressed ENTER [Install] to see what the options are.

    The following options are displayed

  • Format the partition using NTFS (Quick)
  • Format using FAT (Quick)
  • Format partition using NTFS
  • Format partition using FAT
  • Leave the current file system intact (no changes)
  • So no option to repair. I managed to get into dos prompt and can verify that the data is still in tact. Is there a way I can get this laptop on the network and copy the files across? At this stage I would prefer to do a clean install, assuming I can backup the data first.

    It is worth mentioning I only have 2048MB free space on my C:\


    9:21 am on Nov 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Administrator bill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

    You're missing an interim step there. Usually after accepting the license agreement the install process will recognize your existing version of Windows and offer you the option to Repair that install or to continue with a clean install. Is it possible you missed this and continued on to a clean install?

    A clean install will require you to reinstall everything. That's probably a lot more work than you need.

    Earlier you mentioned you ran a 6 hour repair. What was that?


    10:00 am on Nov 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

    10+ Year Member

    That step is not an option, as in it is not displayed on the screen. I am missing my c:\windows\system32\config\default file... which could be the reason it is not picking up the OS.

    A clean install will overwrite all data, though?

    The first repair was done by a guy from work whilst I wasn't looking. I assume he managed to do the repair you are trying to suggest I do. I only assume it took 6hrs, because after about 3hrs it was about 50-odd percent.


    12:41 am on Nov 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Administrator bill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

    If it's just a matter of that one file/directory missing then try copying those files through the Recovery Console [support.microsoft.com].

    I'm not sure why the Repair Install option isn't coming up. There may be more problems lurking.

    As you say it is a 4 year old system, and a laptop to boot. Laptops can be more prone to hardware glitches. However, a complete re-format and re-install of Windows can breathe new life into a machine. Sure, it can be a pain to re-install software, but in the end you'll have a clean setup. (That's a good time to take an image backup so that you can revert to the clean install in the future.)


    5:31 pm on Nov 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

    10+ Year Member

    Thanks Bill. I'll bite the bullet, do the backups and re-install.

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