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Repairing Windows XP in Eight Commands

Repairing Windows XP in Eight Commands

Note: This article is now available on the Amazon Kindle Bookstore: Repairing Windows XP in Eight Commands. Download a convenient e-book version of this article to keep at your side while you repair your computer. Every IT tech from casual to professional should have a copy of this handy reference on their e-reader!

Most of us have seen it at one time or another; perhaps on our own PC, the PC of a loved one, or perhaps a PC at your place of employment. The system spends weeks or months operating in a smooth fashion, taking you to the far reaches of the wide, wibbly web, and after one particularly late evening of browsing and gaming, you shut your PC off and go to bed. Millions of people across the globe do just this every night, but a few of us have turned our PCs on the next day not to the standard Windows XP loading screen, but instead this dreaded error:

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 the original Setup CD-ROM.

Select ‘R’ at the first screen to start repair.

Which renders your PC inaccessible from the standard boot procedures of Windows XP. You try safe mode, to no avail. You’re particularly savvy and try issuing the FIXBOOT and FIXMBR commands in the Windows recovery console, but after each reboot, you’re merely greeted with the same obnoxious and terrifying blue screen of death that’s preventing you from accessing your precious data.

Perhaps you’ve also seen these error screens:

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

X:\\WINNT\\System32\\Ntoskrnl.exe
_________________

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

X:\\WINNT\\System32\\HAL.dll
_________________

NTLDR is Missing
Press any key to restart
_________________

Invalid boot.ini
Press any key to restart

Allow me to build tension by prefacing the end-all/be-all solution with my background: Having worked for the now-incorporated Geek Squad branch of Best Buy Corporation for the better part of eight months, I have seen dozens upon dozens of systems come through our department with any one of these errors, brought in by customers who are afraid they did something, have a virus, or are in jeopardy of losing their data. Prior to my discovery of an invaluable sequence of commands, our standard procedure was to hook the afflicted drive to an external enclosure, back up a customer’s data and then restore the PC with the customer’s restore discs or an identical copy of Windows with the customer’s OEM license key. If the customer wasn’t keen on the applicable charges for the data backup, we informed them of the potential risks for a Windows repair installation (Let’s face it, they don’t always work right), had them sign a waiver, and we did our best.

Neither of these procedures are cheap in the realm of commercial PC repair, nor do they inspire a tremendous level of confidence in the technician or the hopeful client.

In an effort to expedite our repair time and retain the sanity of myself and other technicians, I received permission to undertake a case study on a variety of PCs currently in service that exhibited any of the aforementioned symptoms, and I took it upon myself to find a better solution. After crawling through the MSKB, Experts Exchange, MSDN and sundry websites all extolling the virtues of a solution to these problems, I only found one that worked, and it has been reliably serving me for the better part of two weeks on seventeen PCs to date. The process is simple: Get to the Windows Recovery Console for your particular Windows installation, navigate to the root letter of your installation (C: in most cases), issue eight commands, and reboot. The cornerstone of this process is a command called “BOOTCFG /Rebuild” which is a complete diagnostic of the operating system loaded into the recovery console; the purpose of the command is to remove/replace/repair any system files that were preventing the operating system from loading correctly. Amongst the files it fixes are:

  • Windows Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL)
  • Corrupt registry hives (\\WINDOWS\\SYSTEM32\\CONFIG\\xxxxxx)
  • Invalid BOOT.INI files
  • A corrupt NTOSKRNL.EXE
  • A missing NT Loader (NTLDR)

The command process may apply to other types of blue screens or Hive/HAL/INI/EXE/DLL-related stop errors, but I have not had the luxury of computers in this type of disrepair. The process I am about to outline is virtually harmless, and if you feel you may be able to correct your PC’s boot-time blue screens and stop errors with the sequence, feel free to try. Let us now begin with a step-by-step instruction for correcting these issues.

Getting to the Windows Recovery Console

  1. Insert your Windows XP CD into your CD and assure that your CD-ROM drive is capable of booting the CD. Configuring your computer to boot from CD is outside of the scope of this document, but if you are having trouble, consult Google for assistance.
  2. Once you have booted from CD, do not select the option that states: “Press F2 to initiate the Automated System Recovery (ASR) tool.” You’re going to proceed until you see the following screen, at which point you will press the “R” key to enter the recovery console:
xp_src_welcome
  • After you have selected the appropriate option from step two, you will be prompted to select a valid Windows installation (Typically number “1″). Select the installation number, (As mentioned, “1″ in most cases), and hit enter. If there is an administrator password for the administrator account, enter it and hit enter. You will be greeted with this screen, which indicates a recovery console at the ready:
xp_src_console

Proceeding With the Repair Functions

  • There are eight commands you must enter in sequence to repair any of the issues I noted in the opening of this guide. I will introduce them here, and then show the results graphically in the next six steps. These commands are as follows:
    • C:\CD ..
    • C:\ATTRIB -H C:\\boot.ini
    • C:\ATTRIB -S C:\\boot.ini
    • C:\ATTRIB -R C:\\boot.ini
    • C:\del boot.ini
    • C:\BOOTCFG /Rebuild
    • C:\CHKDSK /R /F
    • C:\FIXBOOT
  • To “Go up a directory” in computing is to revert back to the directory above the current folder you’re operating in. If, for example, I’m in the C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32 directory, and I want to get at a file in the WINDOWS directory, I would merely type CD .. and I would be taken out of the SYSTEM32 folder and up one level to WINDOWS. We’re going to do the same thing here from the WINDOWS folder to get to the basic root of C:
xp_src_recurse

Now that we are at C:\ we can begin the process of repairing the operating system
and that begins with modifying the attributes of the BOOT.INI file. Briefly, BOOT.INI controls what operating systems the Windows boot process can see, how to load them, and where they’re located on your disk. We’re going to make sure the file is no longer hidden from our prying eyes, remove the flag that sets it as an undeletable system file, and remove the flag that sets it as a file we can only read, but not write to. To do this, we will issue three commands in this step:

  • C:\ATTRIB -H C:\BOOT.INI
  • C:\ATTRIB -R C:\BOOT.INI
  • C:\ATTRIB -S C:\BOOT.INI

to remove the Hidden, System and Read Only flags.

xp_src_attributes

Now that we’ve modified the attributes for the BOOT.INI file, it’s up for deletion. The syntax for it is simple: { DEL | FILE NAME }, e.g., C:\DEL BOOT.INI deletes the BOOT.INI file.

xp_src_delete

Now for the most important step of our process, the BOOTCFG /REBUILD command which searches for pre-existing installations of Windows XP and rebuilds sundry essential components of the Windows operating system, recompiles the BOOT.INI file and corrects a litany of common Windows errors. It is very important that you do one or both of the following two things: First, every Windows XP owner must use /FASTDETECT as an OS Load Option when the rebuild process is finalizing. Secondly, if you are the owner of a CPU featuring Intel’s XD or AMD’s NX buffer overflow protection, you must also use /NOEXECUTE=OPTIN as an OS Load Option. I will demonstrate both commands for the purpose of this guide, but do not set NOEXECUTE as a load option if you do not own one of these CPUs. For the “Enter Load Identifier” portion of this command, you should enter the name of the operating system you have installed. If, for example, you are using Windows XP Home, you could type “Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition” for the identifier. This gives the process some authenticity, if you’re keen on being a perfectionist.

xp_src_rebuild

This step verifies the integrity of the hard drive containing the Windows XP installation. While this step is not an essential function in our process, it’s still good to be sure that the drive is physically capable of running windows, in that it contains no bad sectors or other corruptions that might be the culprit. No screenshot necessary here! Just type CHKDSK /R /F at the C:> prompt. Let it proceed; it could take in excess of 30 minutes on slower computers, when this is finished move on to the seventh and final step.

This last step also requires no screenshot. When you are at the C:> prompt,
simply type FIXBOOT. This writes a new boot sector to the hard drive and cleans up all the loose ends we created by rebuilding the BOOT.INI file and the system files. When the Windows Recovery Console asks you if you are “Sure you want to write a new bootsector to the partition C: ?” just hit “Y,” then enter to confirm your decision.

Results and wrap-up

It’s time to reboot your PC by typing EXIT in the Windows Recovery Console and confirming the command with a stroke of the enter key. With any luck, your PC will boot successfully into Windows XP as if your various DLL, Hive, EXE and NTLDR errors never existed. You’ve just saved yourself from many hours of work, frustration, potential data loss and shelling out your hard-earned greenbacks at a brick’n’mortar operation.

Keep in mind that this solution is only designed to resolve the issues introduced in the preface if the cause is unrelated to spyware and viruses; while I have had significant luck with rebuilding heavily-infected systems in the method I have described, it is not guaranteed. If you believe your PC has affected one of these symptoms due to spyware or viruses, today’s fastest-growing PC nuisance, here is our recommended list of software that can help keep your computer safe:

ZoneAlarmAviraTrend MicroSymantecF-SecureKaspersky, or AVG.

Good luck and happy hunting.

Comments

  1. satya
  2. graverunner
    graverunner My comp has just died and undergone this very same problem yesterday. D= Worked completely alright when it coked out with the screen of death the next morning. Am going to try the instructions outlined here but I have a q...
    After typing in '1' 'Which windows admin would you like to log into' command, I get directed to:
    D:\WINDOWS instead of C:\WINDOWS

    Is it possible to still use the solution above if that's the case? Don't want to do anything yet since I'm scared it will further exacerbate the prob. >___<

    Hope someone can answer this!
  3. mahaveer
    mahaveer at which point you will press the “R” key to enter the recovery console i`m getting Setup did not find any hard disk drives installed in your computer.
    Make sure any hard disk drives are powered on and properly connected to your computer, and that any disk-related hardware configuration is correct. This may involve running a manufacturer-supplied diagnostic or setup program.
    Setup cannot continue. To quit setup, press F3.
  4. Vipin Pattni
    Vipin Pattni This worked well with some pc based till systems that were showing same symptoms after loading the usb printer driver. Great help, thanks
  5. therain
    therain Hi , i got the "which windows would you like to log onto" . After that i type "1" . Now instead of going to the command prompt , i get the Blue screen of death ..registry_error stop 0x00000051 ..kindly help me.
  6. Tushon
    Tushon graverunner: D:\Windows is probably your CD drive. C: is nearly always the HDD. Your HDD might be toast and not detectable, but perhaps someone else could chime in if I am incorrect.

    mahaveer: Sounds like your HDD is bad (mechanical failure of some sort). Ensure that all the plugs are in the right spot and try the steps again. If you get the same result or hear any clicking, then the HDD is toast.

    Vipin: Glad to hear it worked for you

    therain: That sounds like it is trying to mount parts of your registry that are then making the command prompt bomb out. Not sure what to do there without using a boot disc that can do offline registry fixing (and I'm not going to be able to discuss that because we only support and recommend legal actions here).
  7. neil patel
    neil patel hi i have go to the stage of the password and don't know the administrator password please could you help me
  8. Francis Ezeobi
    Francis Ezeobi thanks
    for you help
    francs
  9. wr.kelly001
    wr.kelly001 You can find answers from this website: www.windowsrecoverys.com
  10. John
    John This procedure erases all restore points.
    Still have the BSOD.
  11. Mike
    Mike I tried several other fixes with no luck and this fixed my PC.
    Mike
  12. Rajesh Pandey
    Rajesh Pandey use of screen shot and image make things easy to understand
  13. Anomi Mouse
    Anomi Mouse Save yourself some steps:

    C: ATTRIB -H -S -R C:\\boot.ini
  14. I mustbedumb
    I mustbedumb I tried it twice to fix an emachine . I used their restore disks and it came up with The file Windows/system32/config/system is corrupt or doesnt exist and I went through your process and did it twice with the same result. the recovery console still says the same thing and the computer will not boot
  15. I mustbedumb
    I mustbedumb Niel just hit enter for the password
  16. Anmol
    Anmol hello there!! Thanks a lot for the procedure....everytime i used to get this error i had to reinstall windows...this save ALOT of time..and ofcourse DATA.. : D
  17. Carlos
    Carlos Thanks a lot, that was a life saver!
  18. uma sankar
    uma sankar hello
    thanks a lot for the idea
  19. Stretch
    Stretch Hi Guys,

    At the end of this process, I was left with the option to boot two different, yet identically named versions of "Microsoft Windows XP Professional". To fix this I had to edit my boot.ini file in Windows.

    Just wanted to let people know that they might need to do some additional work not mentioned in this article.
  20. M.Elhassan
    M.Elhassan It works just like a charm. Your article saves my day.
    Thank you a lot.
  21. eyelander
    eyelander Thank you so much for your clear explanation...just about to undertake these steps to repair a PC which has given me 4 of these errors over the last few years and has had me on on Linux for the last 2 weeks...although maybe that's a good thing! Will report back with the results!
  22. Steve Saltman
    Steve Saltman I lost the function of removing software in the control panel add or remove programs. How can I recover that functionality?
  23. 8Man
    8Man are you sure it's CHKDSK /R /F ? That command returns "The parameter is not valid." message.
    CHKDSK /? does not list a /F as a valid parameter, but it does list /P. CHKDSK /R /P does run.
  24. Gyro Gearloose
    Gyro Gearloose -=WARNING!=-

    You need to proofread your text, before publishing it.

    * C: CD ..
    * C: ATTRIB -H C:\\boot.ini
    * C:ATTRIB -S C:\\boot.ini
    * C:ATRIB -R C:\\boot.ini
    * C: del boot.ini
    * C: BOOTCFG /Rebuild
    * C: CHKDSK /R /F
    * C: FIXBOOT

    Watch the typos!

    Also, all you need to do is
    `ATTRIB -RSH file1 file2....filen'


    But worse still,
    YOU FORGOT TO BACK UP THE BOOT.INI with
    `cp boot.ini boot.bak'

    THIS IS IMPORTANT!

    __NEVER__ edit system files without first saving a copy.

    Shame On You!

    I hope you haven't led too many people into screwing their computers into oblivion, like most of the other Geek Squad wanabees have, already.

    HAND.
  25. Gyro Gearloose
    Gyro Gearloose Some Command Line Interpreters
    might need
    "aattrib -r -s -h" (without the quotes)
    instead of
    "attrib -rsh" (without the quotes)
    to clear all the flags. This is true in Windows 2000. YMMV
  26. primesuspect
    primesuspect
    Some Command Line Interpreters
    might need
    "aattrib -r -s -h" (without the quotes)
    instead of
    "attrib -rsh" (without the quotes)
    to clear all the flags. This is true in Windows 2000. YMMV

    You're gonna wanna watch those typos.
  27. Gyro Gearloose
    Gyro Gearloose aatrib

    =ouch!=

    I stand corrected.
  28. Gyro Gearloose
    Gyro Gearloose All joking aside:

    Killing your boot.ini and doing a sanity check
    might work, provided the user is not in
    multiboot environment.

    That said: it is NEVER a good idea to delete or modify ANY system file without first backing up the original version.

    A typical multi-boot setup, using ntldr to chainload to grub, might look like this:

    [boot loader]
    timeout=12
    default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(3)\WINDOWS
    [operating systems]
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(3)\WINDOWS="XP Pro" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

    c:\bolin="CentOS"

    C:\="WIN 98"

    c:\bodos="DOS622" /win95dos

    c:\CMDCONS\BOOTSECT.DAT="Recovery Console" /CMDCONS



    Should this get deleted or overwritten, it would be nice to have a copy, to manually reconstruct from, if nothing else.

    Summarily blowing away the boot.ini is not a swell idea, in any event.
  29. MrTRiot
    MrTRiot As far as a "multiboot environment" that's going to be pretty rare considering any PC, no matter what it is will always run better with a single OS rather then 2 or more....

    The people adding multi boot sequences should be tech-savvy enough to figure out the problem on there own or at least be able to google until they find an answer....

    "Searching google for long enough will solve all life's problems"
  30. Tushon
    Tushon
    Mr TRiot wrote:
    As far as a "multiboot environment" that's going to be pretty rare considering any PC, no matter what it is will always run better with a single OS rather then 2 or more...

    Ehhh I dont know how valid this is. Maybe partially true, as in the "inner" OSs, those farther in on the disk, will be "slower" but that is only marginally so and if you are using a SSD, I would think that there would be zero performance degradation.
  31. MrTRiot
    MrTRiot
    Tushon wrote:
    Ehhh I dont know how valid this is. Maybe partially true, as in the "inner" OSs, those farther in on the disk, will be "slower" but that is only marginally so and if you are using a SSD, I would think that there would be zero performance degradation.

    I don't see the point in running multi OS's on one system unless it's a server. Such as one linux based OS for placing product orders and one OS for a work station environment. Even still that's just lazy on the part of the company for not wanting to dish out more $$ for a workstation

    I ran Vista/Ubuntu on my comp for awhile and it just slowed up my boot speed to minutes (typical is 20 seconds or so) and was just generally not as fast as it should of been. I rearranged all files to be as close to the center of the disc to try to improve boot speed and the time it takes for switching OS's. I got maybe a 5% speed increase? Barely worth the effort...

    My opinion stands. Unless you're in a work environment or wanting to "try" a new OS (such as Ubuntu) it's always better to use a single OS rather then two. It'll also save you gigs of space to boot...
  32. gabe luna
    gabe luna I'm trying the steps outlined above, but I dont remember ever setting a Admin pasword, can anyone help
  33. MarkyO
    MarkyO When you're using XP Home, there will be no password for the Administrator's account. Simply press ENTER.

    If you're using XP Pro and you have forgotten your admin password, you could reset it. Simply google for "Offline NT Password & Registry Editor"
  34. Thrax
    Thrax
    Mr TRiot wrote:
    I don't see the point in running multi OS's on one system unless it's a server. Such as one linux based OS for placing product orders and one OS for a work station environment. Even still that's just lazy on the part of the company for not wanting to dish out more $$ for a workstation

    I ran Vista/Ubuntu on my comp for awhile and it just slowed up my boot speed to minutes (typical is 20 seconds or so) and was just generally not as fast as it should of been. I rearranged all files to be as close to the center of the disc to try to improve boot speed and the time it takes for switching OS's. I got maybe a 5% speed increase? Barely worth the effort...

    My opinion stands. Unless you're in a work environment or wanting to "try" a new OS (such as Ubuntu) it's always better to use a single OS rather then two. It'll also save you gigs of space to boot...


    That's not really true, I'm afraid. A boot sector is a boot sector. Adding another OS shouldn't slow down the OS in the slightest.

    Also, the center of the disk is not the fastest.
  35. Tushon
    Tushon
    Thrax wrote:
    That's not really true, I'm afraid. A boot sector is a boot sector. Adding another OS shouldn't slow down the OS in the slightest.

    Also, the center of the disk is not the fastest.
    The mighty cat has spoken.

    I think he had the right motive, wrong idea.
  36. ardichoke
    ardichoke
    Thrax wrote:
    That's not really true, I'm afraid. A boot sector is a boot sector. Adding another OS shouldn't slow down the OS in the slightest.

    Also, the center of the disk is not the fastest.

    While adding a second OS won't slow down the operation of the OS at all, it can slow boot times down, especially if you wait for the timeout on your bootloader screen instead of hitting enter. Of course this is just being nitpicky (which I excel at).
  37. louise
    louise Thank You sooooooo Much , that helped 100% .
    God Bless .

    LOUISE
  38. Panda
    Panda Didn't anyone see <b>8Man</b> 's post?

    > CHKDSK /? does not list a /F as a valid parameter

    there is no F switch. what is the reason behind this? I am on XP SP3 Home Premium

    //combined:

    Okay, after due diligence, I must report that outside sources indicate that the switch F is implied with the R switch, and that F is only applicable in a DOS shell within an active Windows session.

    Dave

    //combined:

    Okay, after due diligence, I must report that outside sources indicate that the switch <b>F</b> is implied with the <b>R</b> switch, and that <b>/F</b> is only applicable in a DOS shell within an active Windows session.

    Dave
  39. Ankit Moradiya
    Ankit Moradiya Thank You So Much.....
  40. Dan
    Dan I changed two exe files as instructed by microsoft tech and after that my computer would not restart it was looking for those two files. I used my operating system cd to get it to started back. It came back on but it partition my hard drive. I have a back up file on my C drive. Can I change those two files back and restore it or is there anything else I can do to restore my computer back the way it was?
  41. Tushon
    Tushon If your windows CD matches the service pack on the computer you can run
    sfc /offbootdir=c:\ /offwindir=c:\windows /scannow
    
    from the repair console (you boot from the CD and press r for repair mode [XP] or choose command prompt [vista or later]
  42. 2CooL_ZA
    2CooL_ZA Thanks you very much.
    Saved on of my client's Production server on Windows NT.
  43. تلفن گویا
    تلفن گویا Thank you.
    this solved my problem
  44. Matt
    Matt thanks so much for the post. when i tried to CHKDSK was told that there are irrecoverable problems. is there anything else i can do?
  45. ardichoke
    ardichoke If chkdsk is reporting irrecoverable problems you probably have a hard drive that is physically dying. I'd suggest hooking you disk up to another system (using a USB enclosure is the easiest way to do it), back up any data you can pull off it and replace the disk.
  46. The Swede
    The Swede I cannot reach the "Welcome to Setup" screen. The blue screen appears before I can get so far.
  47. emilio arteaga
    emilio arteaga Thanks very much.Your solution works fine for me.
    It is clear and easy to learn.
    You deserved a 10 !
  48. Melinda P
    Melinda P These instructions didn't do anything for me, except give me multiple load identifiers.

    However, FIXMBR did help.

    I'm not posting this to slam the article - I loved it! It sent me looking in the right direction and taught me way more about Recovery Console than I ever knew.

    I just wanted to mention what worked for me, to offer hope to any who enter here & leave despairing (at least temporarily).
  49. Yazid Masa
    Yazid Masa Thank you, This worked for me 2
  50. Daryl G
    Daryl G Great article and i don't mean to slam it but as posted above, a lot of inconsistences. I love the part where it states "Neither of these procedures are cheap in the realm of commercial PC repair, nor do they inspire a tremendous level of confidence in the technician or the hopeful client.", well all I can say is unless you are 100% computer illiterate you would never have taken it to GeekSquad in the first place and pay over-priced service charges from under qualified "technicians", and as Melinda said above, you you truely know the error and what you are doing, FIXMBR has worked perfectly for the errors that need it more times in my career (which is probably twice as long as the average aged tech at Geeksquad) than I care to mention. Also as already stated and a BIG MUST, BACK UP ANY FILE FIRST BEFORE YOU DELETE IT. But thanks geeksquad, because if it wasn't for you guys i wouldn't be so busy fixing the problems you either couldn't or caused.
  51. Moby
    Moby THANKS!! It worked form me. I am going to save this webpage in my Bookmarks.

    Much better than saving all data first and then formatting and reinstalling Windows.
  52. drivingmecrazy
    drivingmecrazy rebooting with system restore CD, just goes back to same error message
  53. DrixxMadison
    DrixxMadison Thanks-a-million! I've spent three maddened days without access to my PC changing ribbon cables, testing different drives and all sorts of crap. Now I'm back online and typing this comment. But I wished someone would have told us newbbies the Windows disk may not be boot-able until you run it from the "safe mode" screen and press any key within 4 seconds! I started checking for problems with my cd drive because it wasn't auto running. Sheesh.
  54. Alex
    Alex Long story short, the FREE SystemRescueCD always saved my ass when Windows decided to stop working for no reason. And in a less painful way. As the techniques given here perfectly illustrate, Windows' recovery options are nothing but a bad joke.
  55. Tone Bone
    Tone Bone So i tried this on my cousins computer all except the "•C: CHKDSK /R /F", because the computer said that wasnt a valid function or whatever. OK so the computer boots back up, but i have a problem mentioned earlier by STRETCH. before Windows logs on it give us the option to boot two different, yet identically named versions of "Microsoft Windows XP Professional. How do we eliminate one of those options? please help!
  56. Very Contrary
    Very Contrary I LOVE You! I LOVE You! I LOVE You! I LOVE You! I LOVE You! I LOVE You! I LOVE You!!!!!!
  57. Tushon
    Tushon
    I LOVE You! I LOVE You! I LOVE You! I LOVE You! I LOVE You! I LOVE You! I LOVE You!!!!!!
    He's Canadian now so you can't say that anymore. (I'm sure he is pleased to have helped)
  58. Thrax
    Thrax I'm bringin' the Yankee pain. AMERICA, @#$% YEAAAAH.
  59. areatha
    areatha You have saved both my wallet and my butt from being kicked today, somehow I managed to install ubuntu on my wifes Windows-partiton, so XP wouldn't boot.

    Free at last, free at last - and THANK YOU! :-)
  60. Tushon
    Tushon
    Thrax wrote:
    I'm bringin' the Yankee pain. AMERICA, @#$% YEAAAAH.
    like this?

    teamamericaphoto.jpg
  61. Yaro Kasear
    Yaro Kasear Notice how not a single one of those have anything to do with the registry. That's because in the likely event the registry breaks enough to break Windows altogether, there's nothing you can do about it but reinstall.

    There's a REASON only Windows uses a binary database for system configuration, it's because EVERYONE ELSE has better ideas on how to design an operating system than Microsoft. It;s because EVERYONE ELSE knows what a horrible idea it is to actually use a database for storing any configuration whatsoever, especially one as inaccessible as the registry.

    The registry pretty much guarantees that NO rescue disk whatsoever will succeed at fixing Windows if the problem lies within its stores. Compound this problem with the fact that the registry has a horribly low tolerance for invalid data stored inside it, no matter how innocuous. Thus, if the registry breaks, the ONLY system that can fix it is the system you can't boot, since the registry is COMPLETELY closed to outside systems. No boot disk can access it, not even Microsoft'd own crippled recovery console can do anything about it.

    This, along with things like drive letter access, the fact that its still really a single-user system, and the fact that Microsoft can't secure it properly largely BECAUSE it's a single user system, are all reasons why Windows is a horribly inferior operating system. Poorly designed. VERY poorly designed. To the point you only get a handful of options for even fixing it if it breaks before you have to reinstall it. Which is horrible because the drive letter system makes reinstalling it a real hassle, as not only do you have to reinstall your software, but backup and reinstall ALL your data.

    This is why Linux and OS X are starting to kill Windows on the desktop, because both of them more or less do it CORRECTLY. You can fix both with even basic text editors from boot disks, no matter what the configuration is that's broken. I can even fix a broken initramfs from a boot disk. And of course, the UFS they deploy allows me to reinstall them all I want and even share the EXACT SAME /home between operating systems on my machine. You just can't do that with Windows. Period.
  62. the_technocrat
  63. Thrax
    Thrax
    This is why Linux and OS X are starting to kill Windows on the desktop

    091128-derp.jpg
  64. ardichoke
    ardichoke This is the only statistic I care about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_operating_systems#Supercomputers

    That's because I don't just computer, or computer hard... I SUPERCOMPUTER HARD
  65. Tushon
    Tushon I guess he's never seen offline registry editing, which is entirely possible and I have used it before.

    tumblr_kyby7pa0J81qzxzwwo1_500.gif
  66. Tom
    Tom Thank you so much, this worked a treat!
  67. Dude
    Dude I have had this error many times & fixed it without a problem. Well got used Dell and my God its a pain. I can finally get to the recovery console but when I type "R" or "Enter" or ANYTHING it does absolutely nothing... Just freezes up on that screen and only option is to hold power button for 7 seconds as ctrl-alt-del does nothing also. Any help would be wonderful!

    Thanks!!!
  68. Sabrina
    Sabrina The problem for me is when I type "CD", it doesn't show C:\> next.

    Instead, it looks like this:

    C:\WINDOWS>CD
    C:\WINDOWS
    C:\WINDOWS>

    I went past this or ignored the fact that it wasn't C:/> by doing the other steps, but when I got to typing:

    C: ATTRIB -H C:\\boot.ini
    C:ATTRIB -S C:\\boot.ini
    C:ATRIB -R C:\\boot.ini

    It said something along the lines that they couldn't find it.

    Totally lost as to what to do.
  69. Sabrina
    Sabrina UPDATE:

    To be more specific, after I put the:

    C:\WINDOWS>ATTRIB -H C:\\BOOT.INI
    C:\WINDOWS>ATTRIB -S C:\\BOOT.INI
    C:\WINDOWS>ATRIB -R C:\\BOOT.INI
    C:\WINDOWS>DEL BOOT.INI

    It says "No matching files were found."

    I continue, though, with the bootcfg commands all the way down to the

    C:\WINDOWS>CHKDSK /R /F

    But it says "The parameter is not valid. Try /? for help."

    I have a Windows XP x64 Edition. It's a dinosaur, and remember that my commands have "C:\WINDOWS>" instead of just "C:\" because it will not allow me to just have C:\.

    Anyone know what to do?
  70. Tushon
    Tushon type "cd .." to go down a level to c:\ (no quotes)
  71. Steve
    Steve I have to admit I'm an OS X user, but I am always having to help my 70 year old parents with their PC which they first took up a few years ago. The problem is I know nothing about XP so I'm always stuck with using a combination of common sense and Google. I got stuck with a Config error last week and could not fix it, had to send to the repair guys, but now I know, thanks so much for this... bookmarked.
  72. ben
    ben hi pro... i have reached the step of bootcfg/rebuild
    but i got the following massage :

    error: failed to successfully scan disk for window installations. this error may be caused bu a corrupt file system, which would prevent Bootcfg from successfully scanning. use chkdsk to detect any disk errors...

    what should i do next ? please help thanks
  73. Tushon
    Tushon
    ben wrote:
    use chkdsk to detect any disk errors...
    Says it right there. chkdsk /r
  74. Neil P
    Neil P You are a star. Once I located an XP boot disk, took me half an hour to recover the computer. Thanks
  75. Buddy
    Buddy Fellow Geeks, this procedure worked perfectly on a Dell 4600. Thanks much and Happy Holidays to all.
  76. Jimmyscott
    Jimmyscott Worked great but I also had a second windows boot option come up. Is there a way to get rid of the old version?
  77. Tushon
    Tushon Sometimes (all the time) a little googling can be of assistance: changing boot options xp in google yields lovely results
  78. Spencer
    Spencer Worked great. Thanks!
  79. Tushon
    Tushon You're welcome
  80. Owen
    Owen LOVE IT, Cheers :)
  81. Moose
    Moose After the question "Which windows installation would you like to log onto" I have tried 3 and 2 and get "Invalid selection." Whehn I try 1 and ENTER the computer freezes up and nothing follows. Help please!
  82. PVB
    PVB Got to recovery console.
    Unfortunately every command:
    "No matching files were found" OR
    "The system cannot the file or directory specified".

    I have cloned the drive in question and tried this process on the original and the clone with the same results.
    Could somebody please help?
  83. Tushon
    Tushon
    Moose wrote:
    After the question "Which windows installation would you like to log onto" I have tried 3 and 2 and get "Invalid selection." Whehn I try 1 and ENTER the computer freezes up and nothing follows. Help please!
    What are the things listed on your drive?
  84. Tushon
    Tushon
    PVB wrote:
    Got to recovery console.
    Unfortunately every command:
    "No matching files were found" OR
    "The system cannot the file or directory specified".

    I have cloned the drive in question and tried this process on the original and the clone with the same results.
    Could somebody please help?

    You get into recovery console, it lists an installation, you enter that installation, and then cannot complete any of the commands? Can you type "dir" (no quotes) and get any output?
  85. PVB
    PVB yes i do get output when type "dir".

    I should point out i've have had a major crash.
    i can boot into windows but the screen is blank.
    Next i control/alt/del then "file" on the task manager top left. i then type something like msconfig or system restore. After i've done this the desktop icons begin slowly to appear.
    Now what happens is that every application in startup IE. antivirus, firewall, updater, and about 20 others come up with a dll error (not a valid win32 etc check against the installation disk) message. Browser, Outlook, AVG, and just about everything else comes up with the same error. there is also an ntvdldr cpu error (or something like it) and a dos error, an SVCHost could not be read, and on it goes.

    I have a backup and the errors were all automatically backed up to that as well as this happens on both disks. I have 2 other operating systems on their own HDD's: Vista 32 and 64 on the same computer and they work fine (for M$ at least).

    Now i have managed to go through this above process in safe mode and execute a system restore (3 times now).
    Always the same errors.

    I bit the bullet and decided to do a rtepair install, but you guessed it, repair is not an option. i tried to manually copy the file c:\windows\repair\system to c:\windows\system32\config, but just comes up cannot find the file or directory specified.

    BTW: i booted to vista and ran a full virus check and IO bit scan on the XP OS and nothing. i did this twice.

    I am trying very hard to get this system up as you can see. i will probably do a fresh install, but i would very much like to do, at the minimum, a repair install (not in Recovery console) first.

    System specs are Gigabyte ud4p board, i7 920, 6GB corsair ram, 3x 500gb Western Digital Black HDD's and 1 x 320GB seagate(for XP backup), gtx 295 Graphics card, Corsair HX 1000 watt PSU and the usual other stuff.

    I am now determined to get this operating system going again, even if just for the experience (rather than the recovery of the data, because it is all accessible from Vista and in duplicate).

    Also, I have run Chkdsc from recovery. it took 4 hours and still the same.

    Thanks in advance,
    Paul.
  86. Tushon
    Tushon It sounds like you are borked. Try the repair install, but you will probably have better luck pulling off w/e data you want (w/ that many OSs floating around, your data should have its own partition anyways) and doing a fresh install.
  87. TheReverend
    TheReverend Oh my god... you're a lifesaver! This is instantly my favorite page in the universe
  88. PVB
    PVB Quote:
    "It sounds like you are borked. Try the repair install,"

    Every O/S is on its own HDD.
    The Repair install is not an option on the setup XP setup page. I don't know why.

    For the purpose of any repairs, the computer is on its side and all non relevant HDD's have their power cords disconnected(i scratched into the paint on each drive what O/S was on each drive when i upgraded all my HDD's 6 months ago).
    This is a basic precaution that i would recommend as yes i almost caused a disaster one time before! easy to do with all those cables.
  89. Ritchie
    Ritchie You sir, are a godsend. This fixed up my issue immediately. Thank you so much for posting this.
  90. Fred
    Fred Is there any way to force the bootcfg /rebuild command to work if the scan fails because a part of the drive (not the Windows portion) has problems?
  91. Thrax
    Thrax There is not.
  92. Baskar mani
    Baskar mani Great article and fixed by windup boot issue
  93. Baskar mani
    Baskar mani Excellent article and worked great in fixing my win xp start issue. God bless you.
  94. Love_PC
    Love_PC Yaro Kasear

    Why all the rant???? Be grateful for those who "create" stuff. eg Microsoft. What have you created that is better than windows? You're just a USER. Grow up and bury your bias. This guide is to help guys out, not a forum for critics. Why are you even here when you don't use windows?
  95. ding
    ding What if I don't have a Windows XP CD?
  96. primesuspect
    primesuspect Time to <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00022PTI4?ie=UTF8&tag=icrontic-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00022PTI4">Get a new copy, then.</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=icrontic-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B00022PTI4" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />
  97. silent genius
    silent genius Awesome post. I do not normally comment but this post saved me a lot of work and 4 yrs of documents(pics and musics). Thank you very much.
    I uninstalled Kaspersky and some components went with it. so I was unable to go into windows. Applying this post solved everything.

    I find it weird that people come here just to criticize and make off topic comments. Let us all be grateful that someone who knows took the pain to solve our problem free of charge.

    Thanks ROBERT HALLOCK. You have really saved me many hours of work, frustration, potential data loss and shelling out your hard-earned greenbacks.
  98. sea of fecundity
    sea of fecundity thankyou

    i have been branded as tech savvy since birth and frequently get dumped with impossible tasks. this article gives me a solid foundation for dealing with some common problems. despite no longer using windows i have saved this and many of the relevant comments for reference.

    please, though, the word is "search" not "google".
  99. need_my_music
    need_my_music I went through the all the steps, it reboots, I select the operating system, I get "We apologize for the inconvenience, but Windows did not start successfully. A recent hardware or software change might have caused this.
    If your computer stopped responding, restarted unexpectedly,...choose Last Known Good Configuration to revert to the most recent settings that worked...."
    I then have the option to choose to start windows normally, various safe modes or last known good configuration. Choosing normally gets me in this loop of rebooting and the above message. I've chosen safe mode and several lines of "multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(0)...." come up and then it reboots to same message. Choosing last known good configuration gets me to the same message. What am I doing wrong???
  100. need_my_music
    need_my_music Correction "multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)..."

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