windows\system\32\config\system corrupt

Turned on computer one morning after using it the night before and received the message "windows\system32\config\system file missing or corrupt.  Use original CD to repair."  Tried, and the computer would not read the CD.  Spent an hour talking to Dell, and did not solve anything.  I am using Dimension with Windows XP Pro Media Center Edition.  Tried to run in safe mode, had a list of files such as ntoskml.exe, hal.ldd, kdcom.dll, bootvid.dll, config\system. and config\system.alt.  still did not work.  Help!
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Your registry System hive is corrupt.  You may have to use the rather involved procedure referenced in this Microsoft article:;en-us;307545
How to Recover from a Corrupted Registry that Prevents Windows XP from Starting

This page has, perhaps, a more understandable treatment of the above article:
Windows XP Crashed - Here's Help
"How to recover from a corrupted registry that prevents Windows XP from starting";en-us;q307545 as said above

After you make the repairs, if you do not have SP1 or SP2 installed, you should install hotfix 318159 "Damaged Registry repair and recovery in Windows XP"
to prevent "repetitive occurrence of registry corruption"

"If you experience a repetitive occurrence of registry corruption related issues, Microsoft recommends that you obtain and install the hotfix in the following article:
318159 Damaged Registry repair and recovery in Windows XP"
"This update is also included in Windows XP Service Pack 1."

A few sites that might be helpful:-

hope it works
khbarkerAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the suggestions.  I have read throug some of these.  A couple of additional questions... The computer has the original equipment manufacturer (OEM?) and one article said to not do this if you have that.  Also what is a recovery console?  I also did a hardware diagnostics and received the message on Drive 0 Fail Return Code 7.  Suggestions?
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In my experience, 9 times out of 10, your hard drive is likely going bad, or is bad.


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>>  Also what is a recovery console?  <<  you can run the recovery console to repair your system; it can be run from CD, or be installed on the disk.
you can test your disk with one of these, to verify its status :
If Dell shipped your computer with a DSR partition and it has not been deleted, then you should have the backup image to restore from--although you might not always be able to get to it. That's what this page is about: re-enabling your ability to use Dell's backup image.

Troubleshooting the Restore Process
The Dell-specific Ctrl+F11 process is supposed to completely automate the restoration process, returning the hard disk to the state it was in when Dell shipped the computer. However, overwriting the MBR by using a boot manager, using the commands "fixmbr" or "fdisk /mbr", installing from a Windows installation CD, and assorted other tasks a user might do will inadvertantly break Ctrl+F11, rendering the system unable to boot the DSR partition. Furthermore, changing the partitioning by adding, deleting, or resizing partitions will cause DSRcheck to fail, so even if Ctrl+F11 works, the restore process will abort without attempting to restore the Ghost image.

This section explains how to fix the Ctrl+F11 and DSR process following repartitioning or OS reinstallation.

First, understand that not everyone likes the Dell-specific restore process. Some people even delete the DSR partition completely and choose another method of disaster recovery. These may include, but are not limited to, using cloning/imaging products like Symantec Ghost, PowerQuest Drive Image, Acronis True Image, TeraByte Image or BootIt-NG, and others. Even if you keep the DSR partition, it's not absolutely necessary to fix a broken Ctrl+F11 operation because you can always manually restore the Ghost image from the DSR partition. However, if you do wish to repair the Dell-specific restore process, read on.

khbarkerAuthor Commented:
My biggest concern is recovery of data.  Will any of these cause my data to be lost?
Well, certainly the Dell restore process talked about by Merete above, if it is available for your model of computer, will cause your data to be lost, for its purpose is to restore the computer to the exact configuration the pc came in from the factory.  In other words without all your data, programs you installed since you got the computer, without all the personal settings tweaks you made, etc.  The process I described in my comment above will not affect your data, but as the article states, there is some question whether it should be attempted on an OEM version of XP, such as Dell's.

If you want to save your data before attempting the first process, it depends upon what resources you have available.  Do you have a CD burner on the pc?  Or a zip drive, USB flash drive, extra hard drive, network drive?  If one of these is available, and you also have another pc which has a CD burner that you can use, try one of these:

What is KNOPPIX®?
KNOPPIX is a bootable Live system on CD or DVD, consisting of a representative collection of GNU/Linux software, automatic hardware detection, and support for many graphics cards, sound cards, SCSI and USB devices and other peripherals. KNOPPIX can be used as a productive Linux system for the desktop, educational CD, rescue system, or adapted and used as a platform for commercial software product demos. It is not necessary to install anything on a hard disk. Due to on-the-fly decompression, the CD can have up to 2 GB of executable software installed on it (over 8GB on the DVD "Maxi" edition).

This site has an excellent tutorial on how to recover files using Knoppix:
Computer First Aid Using Knoppix

or you can try:

What is UBCD for Windows®??
UBCD4Win is a bootable CD which contains software that allows you to repair/restore/diagnostic almost any computer problem. All software included in UBCD4Win are freeware utilities for Windows®. UBCD4Win uses Bart's PE© to boot into a Windows® "pre-install" environment, basically Windows® booted from CD. With network support, the ability to modify NTFS volumes, recover deleted files, create new NTFS volumes, scanning hard drives for viruses, etc. this project is almost everything you need to repair your system problems. There are many other types of utilities included to allow you to recover and/or repair a damaged system. Additional applications included are CD Burning, Backup/cloning, Defragmenter's, Password recovery, the list goes on!!
You say you have a Dell Dimension computer.  Well, I have a Dimension computer myself, but it is a 4100, which is several years old.  Presumably, if you have XP Media edition on your computer, it is a much later model.  What is the model number?

Also, you wanted to know about Recovery Console.  Here is a good article about it:;EN-US;307654
HOW TO: Install and Use the Recovery Console in Windows XP

In order to install it, you have to have been given a Windows XP CD by Dell, or be using a retail XP CD.  You can't just have a "restore partition", which all too many of today's computers have...
Interesting.  I just searched the Dell support site for articles on recovering from a corrupted registry, and found a modified version of the Microsoft article I linked to above.  It is here:
How Do I Recover from a Corrupted Registry that Prevents the Microsoft® Windows® XP Operating System from Starting?

Near the top of this article is this

NOTE:       The rest of this article covers topics and/or procedures that are not covered by Dell's limited warranty or supported by Dell's technical support staff.

These guidelines are provided as a courtesy to you; Dell technical support neither guarantees nor assists customers in completing these steps.
khbarkerAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all the suggestions.  I have tried to boot from the CD-ROM, and cannot get it to do that.  I see that some of these suggestions call for that.  I have changed it in the setup, and still does not work.  Any other ideas?
If you have 2 cd drives, try the other one. Also, I think you can hit F12, and that brings up a boot menu, you can manually choose IDE CD drive. What CD are you trying to boot from?
are you sure you have set the boot order correctly, it should say cdrom first and in the first position on the list , if you change one that is in the second position even though it says cdrom its not in front of hdo. it wont boot from it.
It is in the bios that you change this not setup?
to access bios just as the computer starts to boot
 F1 or Del key
If your not sure how to please supply the name of your mother board and I have a look for some pictures for you.

If you have a new office or logitec keyboard these will not let you use the F keys as they have assigned these special duties find an old keyboard with no special keys.
you can test your drive on another system, or test another drive on this one.
alternatively, check the IDE cable(s) if they are well seated, or swap them
khbarkerAuthor Commented:
Well, I have managed to get a little bit further.  Have been able to boot to CD, get to the point of typing in all the files in recovery, except this one:"copy c:\windows\system32\config\system c:\windows\tmp\system.bak"  I type it in, and it says it cannot be copied.  I went ahead to see if the other files could be copied, and they worked fine.  Any suggestions now?
what is the exact message?
Thanks for the points, I assume you figured out that it was a bad drive?
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Windows XP

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