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Probable hard drive failure, is there any way of recovering any data?

Posted on 2007-07-28
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Probable hard drive failure, is there any way of recovering any data?
I am running XP Pro. I can no longer access my C drive. I receive the following message:
Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
\WINDOWS\SYSYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSYSTEM
You can attempt to repair this file by starting Windows Setup using the original Setup CD-ROM. Select "r" at the first screen to start repair.
When I try to do this I get the blue screen of death warning saying that my computer has been stopped because of a Registry_Error. The same thing happens if I try to setup Windows again from my original CD.
Does this sound like a faulty drive and is there anything I can do to recover any of my data? Would I be able to access the drive as a slave drive and copy the data to a new C drive?
All suggestions gratefully received.
Matthew
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Question by:medcomputers
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by:LeeTutor
LeeTutor earned 600 total points
ID: 19584484
The message you are given notifies that the system registry is corrupted, but it is not necessarily a hard drive failure.  You may have to use the rather involved procedure referenced in this Microsoft article:

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;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:

http://webcast.broadcastnewsroom.com/articles/viewarticle.jsp?id=8658
Windows XP Crashed - Here's Help

If you have an OEM-installed WinXP, then, according to the above MS article, you should not perform the above procedure (quotation below):

Warning: Do not use the procedure that is described in this article if your computer has an OEM-installed operating system. The system hive on OEM installations creates passwords and user accounts that did not exist previously. If you use the procedure that is described in this article, you may not be able to log back into the recovery console to restore the original registry hives.  

You can perform this slightly modified version of the MS method, as in the answer by venom96737 to this question:

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Operating_Systems/WinXP/Q_22000853.html
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by:rindi
rindi earned 600 total points
ID: 19584492
Yes, you can try connecting the disk as a 2nd disk to another PC and copying the data off. If you can't access the files that way, you may require a recovery software, of which getdataback is the best.

http://runtime.org

You'll have to register the software to copy the data off.

Another possibility is to boot your PC with a Live Linux CD like Knoppix, with which you can copy the from the builtin HD to an external one or to the LAN.

http://knoppix.net

And yet another option would be to build your windows LiveCD with the ubcd4win, and use it to copy the data off like you would with knoppix.

http://ubcd4win.com
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Author Comment

by:medcomputers
ID: 19584643
Hi guys
Many thanks for swift response.I would try to fix the registry but I cannot get into Recovery Console, just goes to BSOD. I also have another related problem in that I have already tried to install a new C drive. XP has setup OK but the drive letter is Q as I had a lot of other drives in the system at the time. I connected the new drive to my primary hard drive controller and set it  as the master drive expecting it to come up as C but it is Q. Do I need to reformat the drive to make it my C drive and if so how do I do it?
Matthew
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willcomp earned 800 total points
ID: 19584675
The easiest way to repair the Registry is to boot from a Bart PE CD (or UBCD4Win CD) and use it's file manager for manipulating files. Here are the basic steps:

1. rename c:\windows\system32\config\system to c:\windows\system32\config\system.bak

2. Navigate to the System Volume Information folder.

This folder contains one or more _restore {GUID} folders such as "_restore{87BD3667-3246-476B-923F-F86E30B3E7F8}".

There may be one or more folders starting with "RPx under this folder. These are restore points.

3. Open one of these folders to locate a Snapshot subfolder. The following path is an example of a folder path to the Snapshot folder:  C:\System Volume Information\_restore{D86480E3-73EF-47BC-A0EB-A81BE6EE3ED8}\RP1\Snapshot

4. From the Snapshot folder, copy the following file to the c:\windows\system32\config folder
 _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SYSTEM

5. Rename _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SYSTEM to SYSTEM

6. Exit Bart PE and reboot.

Replacing only the System hive should be sufficient. If not, post back and I'll add the other hives.

Use a restore point from at least a day or two prior to problem occurring but one that is fairly recent.

Bart PE is available here:
http://www.nu2.nu/pebuilder/

Note: Your data is not in jeopardy using above procedure, but backing up data is good practice
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Expert Comment

by:Mark
ID: 19584838
Very strange to get a BSOD for a registry error when trying to setup XP, I assume you mean a repair install.
Backing up the data should be your first priority. Use the Knoppix cd as rindi has suggested. This will tell you if there is a hardware issue other than the hard drive, as it won't be able to boot up if there is other problems. If it does boot, then you can access the Hard drive, and extract the data to an external USB drive. If the hard drive is not accessible then it may be a hard drive issue. If that is the case then to further test the hard drive it will need to be removed and placed in a known working computer as a slave drive.
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Author Comment

by:medcomputers
ID: 19587477
Hi everyone
I can now access my faulty drive in a computer with a new C drive with a fresh install of XP Pro. What is the best way to repair the registry on the faulty drive to make it bootable again? Or if I transfer all the data to my newC drive will I still have to reinstall all my programmes?
Thanks
Matthew
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 19587554
I'd first copy your data from the other drive, then use the disk manufacturer's utility to thoroughly test it.
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Expert Comment

by:willcomp
ID: 19588014
Use procedure I outlined in previous response using  Windows Explorer to manipulate files. You'll probably need info in this article to access the System Volume Information folder.
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/309531/
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Author Comment

by:medcomputers
ID: 19650230
Hi guys
Apologies for delay in posting. I have eventually restored my computer using all your advice. I only had two Snapshot sufolder restore points and had had to reinstall most programs after rebooting into XP. But I got there in the end with your help.
Matthew
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Expert Comment

by:willcomp
ID: 19650369
Good. Glad to help.
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 19651634
your welcome
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