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Windows XP was unable to start because the following file is missing or corrupted

Posted on 2006-07-23
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Last Modified: 2012-06-22
I tried to install AVG anti-virus the other day as I had noticed the computer starting to do some unusual things such as throw pops at me on the Net and redirect me etc. It came up with an error during the AVG install and I had to reboot. Upon rebooting it came up Windows XP was unable to start because the following file is missing or corrupted C:/windows/system32/config/system. I tried booting into safemode but got the same error. I booted off the XP CD and tried to do a repair of the existing installation but that also failed (tried 4 times) after the first try it rebooted after copying setup files and came up with a different error -  Windows XP was unable to start because the following file is missing or corrupted C:/windows/system32/cp_437.nls. Since than I have tried using recovery console and using the following commands - fixboot c: & chkdsk \rbut with no luck. I have taken the drive out an scanned it over a reliable spyware & virus scanner which found no bugs or errors. IS there anything else I can try before performing a complete format as I want to avoid this if possible. I don't think it is a HDD issue as the drive and all its contents came up fine though a external USB enclosure. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Question by:competitivecomp
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Expert Comment

by:d_may
ID: 17164740
Have your Windows xp disc handy and do the following:
start>run> type in with space> sfc /scannow
let it run.

d_may
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by:Jay_Jay70
Jay_Jay70 earned 150 total points
ID: 17164788
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;307545

how can you do a file check if you can't access windows?
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by:d_may
ID: 17164837
Good point Jay Jay 70
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by:programmer1024
programmer1024 earned 20 total points
ID: 17164953
Somehow some files were deleted. That is what it sounds like. A reformat is likely the only solution. Can you backup your important files?
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by:bbrunning
ID: 17164999
Check your CD to make sure there aren't any scratches on it. Usually a repair install of windows fails either because the media is bad or because the hard drive or CDROM is bad.

If you have a second CDROM try installing from that one, if you have a laser cleaner use it first.
You said you could put the HDD in an external enclosure? Run chkdsk from the enclosure and set it to automatically fix errors and have it also scan and recover bad sectors. After that run disk defrag on it.

Once you finish, THEN put it back in the system and run the repair install of WinXP.

If it still fails back everything up and format. Don't do a quick format either as you may have some serious errors on the disk.

Hope that helps
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by:Jay_Jay70
ID: 17165005
Has anyone actually read through the article that microsoft provides to specifically tackle this issue?

It is right there....
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Assisted Solution

by:abuzar_khan
abuzar_khan earned 20 total points
ID: 17165418
My dear there is no way without formatting ur hdd. You only format primary partition and reinstall windows. Only this is the solution for ur problem, dont waste ur time in anything else.
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by:bbrunning
ID: 17165461
Abuzar,

Not necessarily true.
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by:Jay_Jay70
ID: 17165463
not at all true
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by:Jamie_Orchison
Jamie_Orchison earned 20 total points
ID: 17166618
Hmm, the only thing i can think of is putting the HDD in another PC and backing up important files. Format is the only way I can see.

Could file recory software recover files if you can't.

I had a missing file once C:/ something NTFS.sys

Formatting was the only solution to that.

And i had a bootskin that got stuck in a continuous loop
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by:Jay_Jay70
ID: 17166725
i am confused as to why everyone jumps to the conclusion that a format is the only fix.....it is not! There is a detailed fix that MS provides which i have used numerous times to success.....it is worth formatting afterwards when you get the chance as your system is never quite the same...but that is NOT the fix, read through the doco provided if you need more clarification...

I must say, i am dissapointed in the response from participants in this question....15 seconds on google would have provided any of you the answer that the author of this Q could use, how about researching before just telling someone to forget everything and format, yes there is a time fo that, but this is not one of them as of yet

Good luck to you, I am unsubscribing, ashamed for the first time at a question on EE

competitivecomp, i apologise and good luck to you my friend
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Expert Comment

by:monotech
ID: 17166787
I just wanted to check if the RAM has been swapped out with known good yet. I have had similar weird file errors and it has been traced back to RAM.

Just a thought
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by:bbrunning
bbrunning earned 20 total points
ID: 17167933
Jay Jay, I think I'm the only one that read your post from MS. Looked like a good idea to me, if that didn't work then a format may be the answer.

=)
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by:
ap-it earned 20 total points
ID: 17170686
Im little late in joining this, but Jay Jay has the answer.  Also if that doesnot work, you do not need to format intially.  if your harddrive is fine, which it seems it is.  You install XP fresh copy to a new location, boot up to that location.  You will have access to all your files, make backup copys and then reformat and start clean if you want too.


gl
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Author Comment

by:competitivecomp
ID: 17172606
Format only thing that worked in the end.  I would advise all those with this problem in the future to do a complete format if they can backup their data prior to doing so as the Microsoft solution is time consuming and (in my experience) more hassle than it is worth as you will more than likely never get the PC back to normal regardless of what you do. Thanks to all who replied.
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