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Windows cannot start due to missing or corrupt file.

Posted on 2009-05-07
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Last Modified: 2012-05-06
I have a WIndows Media Center pc (sp3) and it totally locks up once it boots up at the desktop screen.  It takes like 10 seconds and it is froze.  I have stopped all startup programs and ran several virus, malware, and spyware programs.  I wanted to use system restore in safe mode but it will not do anything.  The user stated that they had seen problems the last 2 weeks.  I noticed in system restore that IE 8 was installed on or near the beginning of the problems.  Anyway I wanted to run system restore in safe mode with command prompt but when I chose that option I get this message.  "Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt.  
C:\windows\system32\config\system.  Then it says you need the original disks to repair or load the file.  Any other options for this problem other then reloading the OS?
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Question by:mkramer777
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15 Comments
 
LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:LinkNJ
ID: 24327529
Yes, I would check the hard drive for bad sectors.  Figure out the manufacture of your hard drive and you can download their software or you can use the Ultimate Boot CD here: http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/
This has been a successful solution for me before so I am not just guessing, but if you still have a problem then you could try doing a repair install, instructions here:
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/helpandsupport/learnmore/tips/doug92.mspx
Good  luck, Rob.
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:Rick
ID: 24327671
You can try repairing the OS installation (boot from CD).





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LVL 10

Expert Comment

by:augwest
ID: 24331087
Actually a repair wont work because which that error the setup wont even recognize the currently installed OS to run a repair

Please follow the steps in this guide.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/307545
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 24334348
before trying anything, i would check the basics ram and disk. run the diags from the ubcd  (link above)
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Author Comment

by:mkramer777
ID: 24356224
This comment is for augwest.    When I try to type in commands at the prompt for the solution you linked above it says that "access is denied"   I also don't have a place where I type in the administrator password after I go into the recovery console.  Any reason why?
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Author Comment

by:mkramer777
ID: 24356254
One other quick question.  Would I be able to reload just the operating system (not doing a format) on a Windows XP Media Center pc with a Windows XP Pro CD?  Or will this not jive?
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LVL 92

Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 24356341
why woiuld you not do a format? any reason?
or do you mean a repair install ?  that won't "jive" as you call it
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LVL 4

Accepted Solution

by:
mwdesign earned 1000 total points
ID: 24356459
I had the same problem.  Put the drive in a different computer and run check disk.  Select to automatically fix errors and attempt recovery of bad sectors.  Place the drive back in the original machine and reboot.  You should not need to reinstall or reformat.
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Author Comment

by:mkramer777
ID: 24356950
I meant a repair install.  Anyway, can I do a repair install on a Windows XP Media Center pc with a Windows XP Pro cd?
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LVL 4

Expert Comment

by:mwdesign
ID: 24357141
No, you will not be able to do a repair install from the XP Pro cd.

Running check disk on the drive should solve your problems though.  I had the same problem last week.  Same OS too.
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Author Comment

by:mkramer777
ID: 24359100
should I run chkdsk /p?  Is that the right command to do an automatic fix of errors?
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Expert Comment

by:mraftis
ID: 24359195
chkdsk /f would be the proper syntax for that. Chkdsk may or may not fix your problem. If you have an OS corruption, chkdsk probably won't fix it.
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LVL 4

Expert Comment

by:mwdesign
ID: 24359795
If you are comfortable running from command line, chkdsk /f /r would be best.  If you place the drive as a slave in another computer you can run check disk from the drive properties.
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LVL 92

Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 24361730
chkdsk only fixes file structure errors, but if you have bad sectors, it may cause more problems than it cures.
i always suggest :
1-test the disk with manuf's diag
2-only then run chkdsk

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LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:LinkNJ
ID: 24381571
For others reviewing this question in the very first post you will find a link to the UltimatebootCD so you do not have to go through taking the drive out of the computer.  On the UBCD are many of the manufacturers diagnostic programs to use to check for bad sectors using their software.  Of course you can get them from their web site as I mentioned and create your own boot disc with their software.  I would recommend using the manufacture of the hard drive's software instead of chkdsk to check for bad sectors.  Good luck, Rob.
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