repair and recovery


I have a big problem here. while I was working on my laptop, it starts making very strange sound and their I turned it off. When I tried to restart it, it leads me to a black screen which says that " windows couldnot be restarted because one of the following files is missing or corrupt: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM"

Then I started using an XP disk for recovery purposes. Then it asks me one thing: "which windows installation would you like to log onto" I don't what to write next.

Please tell me the steps I should take in order not to lose my data. I have many things in my computer.

Thanks in advance!!!
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Hmm, I have notes about that error.  They refer to Microsoft KB article 823614 but apparently it has been taken down.  Looking through newsgroup posts, I guess a lot of people had problems with it.

You're probably best off trying a Repair Install.  This is different from the Recovery Console which you went to.  See the instructions here:

Strange sounds coming from a laptop are usually harddrives.   If that thing is going to go, I'd recommend AGAINST playing with it the way you are.   I suggest some of the following to protect the data first and foremost:

1. Boot from a floppy and copy your files to floppies if you can.
for larger files:
2. Connect it to another laptop through one of those PCMCIA to harddrive adapters and move the data to another machine.
3. Connect this thing to your network and use Ghost to image it up to another machine.   Then pull the data you need out using Ghost Explorer.
4. Boot the system using Bart's PE with networking tools.   Mount a network drive and copy the files.

Installing Windows XP onto a drive that is "already close to death" could put it over the edge.  

Good Luck.

Paul SDesktop Support Manager / Network AdministratorCommented:
corrupt or missing "\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM" normally means that your registry is corrupt or missing. If i was there i would boot off of my Windows Ulitimate Boot CD and restore a backup from system restore. If you did not have system restore turned on before the error then a repair install is your best bet. it is turned on by default so you should be ok unless you turned it off. you can restore the registry without my cd, but it is alot harder instructions below:

at the prompt where it says, "which installation to log on to", try pressing 1 then enter:

after these steps reboot and run system restore from Start > Programs > Accessories> system tools > system restore.
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Paul SDesktop Support Manager / Network AdministratorCommented:
"Which Windows Installation would you like to log onto" is asking you if you want to log onto one of the multiple Operating Systems you obviously have on your hard drive.

I suspect one of them is the proprietary installation from the laptop manufacturer used for exactly what you are trying to do, recover your Operating System on the other installation.

Before you get nuts about fixing things by trial and error, find out what it's really asking your.

Dell, Compaq, Sony, Toshiba, IBM, they all have proprietary install disks which much be run before you install XP or any other Operating System.

You should have both floppies for recovery/install and CD's from our laptop manufacturer.

Do not play around with any methods stated above until you confirm whether or not the laptop is asking you if you'd like to go to the Manufacturer's hidden restore partition Operating System Recovery Console.

Know what you're doing, don't guess.
have you tried booting in safe mode?

that would be the quickest way to get to the data you want assuming it can still boot in safe mode.

To do this hold F8 after the first boot screen... the one that checks the RAM and says "press DEL to enter setup". The you should get a load of startup options.. select safe mode.

If it works I would suggest you backup EVERYTHING you want to keep.

You then have three options:

1 Reinstall everything from scratch by deleting the partition and recreating it (all done from your windows XP installation CD).

To do this boot from the WinXP CD and select the "new installation" option, delete any existing partitions and then recreate the partition(s) any way you like (use quick format if given the option). then install windows on the partition of your choice (10GB is usually large enough for all your programs and windows to fit on).

Assuming you know what your doing, this shouldnt take longer than an hour to reinstall and another couple of hours to update all your drivers and install SP2 and if you just use the quick format option the majority of your stuff wont be overwritten by the  and you can use a R-Studio (trial version exists I believe) to recover any lost data from the drives (use google to find it).

2 Try using the "System Restore" program by right clicking "my computer" then click "properties" then the "System Restore" tab.

3. Try booting with the winXP CD (as in option 1) and then use the recovery console. To do this you would boot from your windowsXP CD.

It should display a "Repair" option i think. go to it... eventually it asks you which OS you want to repair (usually it comes up "1. C:\Windows\" and you would enter "1" at the prompt line. then type in "help" once ur past that bit and it should give you a load of commands you can use at the command line. two of them begin with "FIX" (fixMBR and fix "something else"  - i can never remember...  but its there somewhere). Type both those commands in and try rebooting once you have completed the necessary steps.

Hopefully it will fix it .. if not you need to find a way to copy the missing file from the windows CD. This will require you to post the name of the missing file and some one else will have to tell you how to copy that file as Im not entirely certain on how to copy the files from the CD.

Otherwise just use option 1 and update all your drivers, SP2, etc and youll be running a much stabler system that should work better.

Quick tip: type Start->Run enter "msconfig" go to the startup tab and deselect any programs you dont use almost every time u use your computer or any you dont recognise (check address lines for them to recognise what each startup item is). This will make windows boot noticeably quicker than if you have everything selected.

Good Luck and HTH :)

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wow, interesting idea's here from my fellow techies. I unfortunetly don't agree.
This week i get called into work for a similar problem.

One of the windows files was deleted. I then checked and checked with all my resources and found that either a file was mistakenly deleted or corupted by a virus.

Hearing the two possibilities I decided the best way to handle the situation was to try and setup the drive as a slave/secondary hd, once i finally got that done i tried to look at the drive which didnt do anything.

I then went to and found an excellent data recovery tool called Getdataback. It was a very easy to use program and I was able to see all the files that i couldnt acess, and didnt want to risk a xp repair to possibly loose all the data. The only catch was you need a second hd u can use as a primary and pay the $80 fee so you can save your files.

I was hesitant to pay the 80 but after purchasing the key i was able to save the files.(trail you can view them but not save) I definetly recommend doing this if you intend on keeping all your important files.

Hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions.
>>   Please tell me the steps I should take in order not to lose my data   <<  if it is important, i would NOT run any program on it, but connect the drive to a XP PC IDE connector, with the use of a 2.5" to 3.5" adaptor cable, like : 0QQitemZ6832977649QQcategoryZ168QQcmdZViewItem search_getprod.php/masterid=811539

then you can save your data, and try to repair the system, using one of the above methods.
The instant you hit the Enter key on Fix MBR your partitions are gone and you've made the problem worse.

If you've lost one file or directory, then fix that by replacing it with a good copy.

If GetDataBack can find a deleted file, fine; but can it find and fix a corrupt file or a completely missing file?

"Please tell me the steps I should take in order not to lose my data. I have many things in my computer."

There is only one way because it is a Windows machine, and that is with Windows lowest level recovery software and reading the books.  Disk Probe and Troubleshooting partition and disk problems.

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