Missing system.ini file when booting up.

Posted on 2004-04-13
Last Modified: 2013-12-28
I startup my PC running Win98.  It loads the memory and boots up and begins starting up Win98, which it is unable to do and the message is for a missing system.ini file.  I have tried booting up using the system floppy disk, and apparently transfer some files, but have not been able to start Win98, or get it to use the CDrom with the Win98 CD.  

How this happened.  My PC has lately been attacked by some commercial software infected off the internet through Internet Explorer, that creates pop-up adds, windows for advertisement, directories and even menu bars.  I have deleted the stuff off my hard drive several times and entered the start up configuration to make sure these applications don't start up automatically.  It has worked but I have not been able to completely get rid of the bug - it hides somewhere.  Last night I got an especially virulent attack with all sort of pop ups flashing and PC resources being drained.  I went in and deleted as much as I could, more than usual.  But, I may have deleted too much.  Before I was finished the PC froze and had to be shut down using the power off button.  When starting it can't find the system.ini, though after that hurdle is addresses more trouble is possible.

I have valuable information on the PC and whatever the fix process, I need to recover the information.  After that, I would be willing to clean the hard drive and reload everything, if needed.


Tony from Houston

Question by:agferna
LVL 29

Assisted Solution

blue_zee earned 50 total points
ID: 10817368

Try booting from a Win98 floppy disk WITH CD-ROM support.

If you don't have one, download it from

Put your Win98 CD in the drive and start setup from the CD drive (usually E:).

Install on top, backup your data and then do a clean reinstall.

LVL 59

Accepted Solution

LeeTutor earned 75 total points
ID: 10817617
Or you might try this before doing a reinstallation:  boot to the bootdisk Zee told you to use, then type the following command:

scanreg /restore

You will be given a choice of 5 previous good registries to restore to.  Your previous working version of system.ini should also be restored at the same time. If you can then boot into Windows and run Internet Explorer:  You may have problems with viruses or trojans.  You could try the free online virus tool at    I find that it isn't always able to CURE every virus it detects, but it is good at detecting and identifying them.  

A couple of other free online virus scanners: 

Also try these free programs to rid your system of spyware, trojans, and other malware:
Spybot - Search & Destroy can detect and remove a multitude of adware files and modules from your computer. Spybot can also clean program and Web usage tracks from your system, which is especially useful if you share your computer with other users. Modules chosen for removal can be sent directly to the included file shredder, ensuring complete elimination from your system. And for advanced users, it allows you to fix Registry inconsistencies related to adware or malicious program installations. The handy online update feature ensures that Spybot always has the most current and complete listing of adware, dialers, and other uninvited system residents.
Version 1.2 adds a variety of new and updated features, including an immunization option that allows you to block many spyware downloads before they get to your computer, and improved detection mechanisms for morphing files.
With its ability to scan your RAM, Registry, hard drives, and external storage devices for known data mining, advertising, and tracking components, Ad-aware can easily rid your system of these tracking components, allowing you to maintain a higher degree of privacy while you surf the Web.

Expert Comment

ID: 10828672
Do you have acess to another PC ? If so copy the needed data to that pc and then wipe in many cases like this that is the best you can do
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 10844751
Try Scanreg /fix

If you are worried about your data and the possibility of loossing the data, I would buy a hard drive, with an 80 wire cable, set it up as a master, load your windows first, then a cd rom burner. Next I would make the old HD as a slave. thus you would have access to the data. I have one machine set up with two masters. From my large HD I can see the files on the other HD, but not visa versa.

The reason I suggested another HD, is that a PC store will charge 80 dollars just for transferrng your data to another new HD. Since a HD costs so little, the 80 dollars would be better spent on another HD.


Author Comment

ID: 10873059
Thank you all for the information, especially Zee and Lee.  It took me a while to follow though given my hechtic schedule.  I wish I had had more points than the initial 125; believe, my intent was to given them all away on this issue.

I reinstalled Win98.  No problem on installation.  I them had problems with display.  After some research I concluded that I had to relaod the driver for the video card.  This definitively solved the blury display problem (it was much more than just a pixel fix).  The I proceeded to the websites suggested by Lee for the cleanup.  After cleaning out 3 viruses and hundreds of malware files, the PC feels like new.  No files were lost in the process.  This was quite some task, overall about 8 to 10 hours - of course you can multi-task with other stuff while the PC is at it.

So far the PC has only one more glitch left.  Hard to describe, but it is like a mini-freeze.  It becomes evident in time-dependent games, in which a 3 second freeze can kill you.  It is not random, seems to be kind of regular.  I have tried hitting ctrl/alt/del when it happens to try to identify the program that causes it, without success.  It had it before the malware crash, though now it the PC is faster, but the glitch is worse - puzzling hah.

Thanks to All.

Tony from Houston

LVL 29

Expert Comment

ID: 10873093


Great news.

This could be useful for you to try finding some process running that can be the cause for that mini-freeze: Process Explorer, that you can find here:



Expert Comment

ID: 10925340
    If only missing "system.ini" file when booting up,you can:
     1.Boot your Win98 to command prompt.
     2.Change directory to your Windows 98's system directory.
     3.Change directory to "sysbckup" directory.
     4.In that directory,include four "cab" files,choose one in it,and run command line:"extract /e rb???.cab system.ini /l ..".
     5.Reboot your pc.It's finished!

    Here is a excellence,it can hold "system.dat","user.dat" and "win.ini".

    Good Lucky!

My E-Mail:*** email address removed by LeeTutor, Page Editor ***

Expert Comment

ID: 10981133
Thanks for trying guys, but not many of you read my posts very carefully

This is a brand new install, never even finished loading programs , never been on the net and never had ANY files added to it that weren't from the company that make the printer, camera, etc, so viruses, spyware are out

I haven''t even finished loading the whole system yet that the customer gave me, and after I reboot after EACH installed program, I have got one of these messages

read my post again, please. This is a brand new install straight from UPS yesterday, each piece from HD to CDRW to CD install disks, all wrapped in plastic. I have built 30 EXACT same systems using my 98SE CD for this company. This is the ONLY one that I have had to reinstall 3 times before I even get his time set and his programs loaded

I just swapped out another clean HD and am formatting it now


Expert Comment

ID: 10981155
Sorry about the LAST post. I hastily replied to YOUR post after junping a page from mine, please disregard post from JBMAIL

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