W2K Pro Startup Error, Can't find installation on Repair

Have a W2K 2000 pro box I am trying to help a friend with. At the beginning of the boot up, it gets to the windows 2000 screen then displays the error:

Windows 2000 could not stat because the following file is missing or corrupt:
\winnt\system32\config\SYSTEM

Then it goes on to display the pressing R for repair if you boot with CD. Which I did. I started it up press R for repair, and whether I select MANUAL REPAIR or FAST REPAIR I get the same issue.

If you do not have the ERD it cannot FIND the OS installation. It will not find the installation if I press L to locate it. I do not have an ERD from the PC owner.

If I try to boot in SAFE MODE I get the same error. The last file it attempted to load, or did load, (The last line) is:
\winnt\system32\config\system.alt

SO, I'm open to your suggestions. I have done repairs like this before but they always FOUND the installation. Then fixed it from there.

Side note, if I take the install process all the way to the point of a full install it does list the directory where the current installation is supposed to be, C:\WINNT

Thanks for your help.

T.J.Asked:
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robrandonConnect With a Mentor Commented:
also, boot to the repair console and run CHKDSK C: /R   (I believe that is the right syntax.  Do a CHKDSK /? to see)

You may have a failing drive.

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MoskjisCommented:
Hi ITGL72,

Side note is for nothing -- it is default windows directory.
I had some kind of similar problem when i acidentaly deleted some sistem files (long story :))
I was able to install over and save my information (o.k all registry keys were gone, but files still were there)
P.S. you can put that HDD to another computer as second and get all information out from it. (it is safer than my aproach ;))

P.P.S. maybe there is a way to restore your current instalation, I do not know about them.


I'm only learning :)
Cheers!
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katacombzCommented:
boot to the 2000 cd and enter the recovery console and copy \winnt\repair\system
to \winnt\system32\config\SYSTEM

ensure you are pressing F6 and loading any needed drivers if the system is using a controler other than a standard IDE... raid scsi sata etc...

then exit and reboot. the files in the repair directory are copies of the files used on the last succesful boot.
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T.J.Author Commented:
Believe it or not running chkdsk from recovery console allowed it to repair whatever and boot up. Thanks for the help!
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robrandonCommented:
ITGL72,

You should look into replacing the drive.  They usually don't get better, only worse.

Glad I could help.
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katacombzCommented:
I agree with robrandon, these things only tend to get works with time. I would suggest making a good backup of your data and then testing the drive for defects.

If you go the drive manufacturers web site they will have specific diagnostic utilities.
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