Config\System Missing – System Restore from Recovery Console

This article applies to the following type of errors:

  • Unmountable Boot Volume
  • Can’t run System Restore in normal mode or safe mode, can’t open programs
  • Windows XP could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\…
  • Stop: … {Registry File Failure} The registry cannot load the hive.
  • System error: Lsass.exe
    When trying to update a password the return status indicates that the value provided as the current password is not correct.

Resolution:

A. Boot the system into the Recovery Console and CHKDSK

    1. Insert the Windows XP cd into the top cd drive
    2. Turn the computer off
    3. Setup the computer to boot from cd: either by pressing F2, F9 or Delete to go in BIOS or by pressing F12 on Dell computers to launch the Boot Device Menu
    4. As soon as you get the message Press any key to boot from the cd hit enter.
    5. Wait ~3 minutes for the Windows Setup to initialize
    6. At the Welcome to Setup screen press R to repair windows using recovery console.
    7. Wait a couple of minutes while setup examines the hard drive.
    8. You will be prompted to choose a Windows installation. Press 1 on the top of the keyboard and then
    9. You will be prompted to enter the Administrator password.
    10. Press Enter if no password was set.
    11. Perform a disk check: 
      chkdsk /p
      fixboot
    12. Type exit to restart the computer.
    13. As soon as the computer starts hit F8 every second to bring up the Advanced Options Menu.
    14. Choose the Last Known Good Configuration.

If these steps didn’t resolve the issue go back in Recovery Console.

B. Perform the System Restore

Inside the Recovery Console type the following commands to change the directory to the system restore directory:

cd \
cd system~1

If you get an Access Denied error:


a) Type the following commands to change the directory to c:\windows\system32\config :

cd windows
cd system32
cd config

b) Rename the system branch of the registry. That will allow us to access the system restore folder from inside the Recovery Console. In case the process fails and you want to perform a Windows Repair you will need to rename system.bak to system again.

ren system system.bak

c) Type exit to leave the recovery console and to restart the computer.

d) Go back into the Recovery Console.

e) Re-enter the commands:

cd \
cd system~1

f) Continue with the steps from the “If you d   on’t get an Access Denied error” branch.


If you don’t get an Access Denied error :

cd _resto~1

If there is no _resto~1 folder or if there are no restore points inside it:


a) Type the following commands:

cd \
cd windows
cd system32
cd config
copy c:\windows\repair\system system

b) If you are getting a file not found error try:

copy c:\windows\repair\system.bak system

c) Then type the following :

copy c:\windows\repair\security security
copy c:\windows\repair\software software
copy c:\windows\repair\sam sam
copy c:\windows\repair\default default
exit

d) You will be able to boot into a altered version of the operating system. Backup your files from the c:\Documents and Settings folder and then reinstall the operating system.


If the _resto~1 folder exists, inside it there are several folders named RP1, RP2. These are restore points. RP1 is the oldest restore point. You can use

dir

to view what RP folders are available. If no restore points are available click here. Otherwise choose the most convenient RP folder. Supposing we have RP3 available let’s type in:


cd rp3

Change the directory to snapshot:

cd snapshot

Restore the main registry branches. If you are being asked if you want to overwrite type in y to agree.

copy _registry_machine_system c:\windows\system32\config\system
copy _registry_machine_software c:\windows\system32\config\software

The following commands are most of the time optional however the process might not work if they are not executed

copy _registry_machine_security c:\windows\system32\config\security
copy _registry_machine_sam c:\windows\system32\config\sam
copy _registry_user_.default c:\windows\system32\config\default

Type exit to reboot the system. Start the computer normally

Based on:
The support.microsoft.com article:
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=KB;EN-US;Q307545&ID=KB;EN-US;Q307545

The icompute.info article:
http://www.icompute.info/System_restore_from_xp_cd.htm