fastfat.sys file missing windows xp won't boot need clarification on previous answer

Posted on 2009-05-08
Last Modified: 2012-05-06
i have an ibm thinkpad t42 that wont boot.
i searched around EE and found what it  thought was a jackpot answer:  ID 19351197

it has instructions:



1-Insert your windowsXP CD-ROM
2-Reset your PC, and choose to boot from cd.
3-Allow the computer to go through the process which appears to be installing windowsXP.
4-When it is complete choose the option to use the recovery console.
5-Tap in the WindowsXP system, you would press 1 for most computers, and press enter.
6-Type the following-

(where d:\ is your cd drive which you have WinXP cdrom & where c: is your hard drive where WinXP is installed)

7-Hit Y to overwrite, if you get the option.
8-Once the file has copied, and automaticly decompressed, take your WindowsXP CD-ROM from you cd drive.
9-Type EXIT

Your computer should boot and run with no problems. Assuming FASTFAT.SYS was your only problem.


i have tried this repeatedly - but i keep getting messages - the most common of which is something like:

"the file name, directory name, or volume label syntax is incorrect"

I also got a lot of:
the specified file could not be located.

Now, I have never performed these types of operations - so am not sure  if I am doing something wrong.  one thing I think i found by doing HELP /? and looking at the info for the COPY command is that the destination should be in [brackets]?  or am i just reading the help info wrong?

also - when the Recovery Console first asks which system i want to log on to - there are two choices:

2 C:\minint

the instructions say that for most computers - type 1.
for the record, i have tried both
and I have tried numerous iterations of the COPY command.
Not sure what I am doing wrong.
When it says "file specified cannot be found" i tried using the copy command to put the file there by leaving off the fastfat.sys and just ending the command with \drivers - but no luck

Can someone help me out?  

I am around if any questions - hoping to get this fixed - if this is the problem - and get this laptop shipped out by Fedex this evening (Eastern Time)

Question by:mmorocco
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Expert Comment

Comment Utility
Figure out what drive letter is the CDROM drive after step 5 above.



Or replace E with whatever the cdrom drive is.


Author Comment

Comment Utility
Does it matter if I am using the actual WindowsXP CD that came with the actual laptop (which I dont have) or is it ok if I am using any WindowsXP CD.

I believe I have my Drive letters correct, because if I just try:

it says: 1 file(s) copied (to the current directory) according to the HELP for the COPY command.  I just wish I could copy it somewhere and then paste it.

For the record - if I could access the "Access IBM" button and the rescue and recovery function I would just rescue the files and wipe the thing and start fresh.  But while I get to the IBM screen and it says "press access ibm" to interrupt - it doesn't get me anywhere, the next screen i see is the error about fastfat missing.

Author Comment

Comment Utility
BINGO!!!  Well, sort of...

Whoever originally set up this machine must have messed with the partitions - because i ended up having to use E:\ for the cd drive and D:\ for the drive to copy to.

But now I am getting more error messages, about "asms" being needed
and "Windows cannot find the file D:\DSPdsblr.exe"

it look like the machine is  trying to run Windows Setup, as though it has never been used before, or like it is being restored or something.

This machine belongs to a friend of my boss.  He gave this laptop to the guy, and since something has gone wrong with it, it has been handed to me to fix.  I am somewhat hesitant about moving forward if it is  trying to run setup and is going to wipe this drive.

Did i remove the XP cd too early after copying the Fastfat file?  once it said it  was copied, I ejected the CD and restarted the machine...did i not wait long enough or something?
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Accepted Solution

nico-slo earned 250 total points
Comment Utility
No, once the file has been copied you can restart so you did fine.  Bad news:  It looks like fastfat.sys being missing wasn't the only problem going on here...

The good news is an XP "repair install" will probably fix this and should not hurt any programs and files he already had on there.  This will reinstall Windows but leave thirdpart programs and user documents alone.

Please reference this page:

Of course I would absolutely recommend you image the drive/fully backup the drive before you do a repair install.

Author Comment

Comment Utility
Sorry for the radio silence.

Yeah, it appears as though there are some larger issues here.
As i mentioned - I am waiting to hear from the owner as to what information is on here that is valuable enough to merit the time/risk involved to mvoe forward - versus cutting his losses - and my wiping it clean and his starting fresh.  Have not heard from him yet.

But in the meantime I am doing my homework on the whole repair install thing - because I think I fall into the category where there is no actual option for "repair" - and so I may have a few hoops to jump through before I can even try that.

But, to ask your opinion on something you last said, which of course I agree with - how do you go about imaging/backing up a drive that you so far cannot get into at all?  I cannot Ghost it without putting the Ghost Client on it - and am not sure how to do that without getting into Windows.  

Maybe i will try hooking it up to my Ultradock and see what I can pull off it.  Like I said, I cannot even get the IBM rsuce and recovery to work...

Author Comment

Comment Utility
Hi nico
Wanted to say thanks very much for the help and for the quick response the day I posted the question.
I have been waiting to hear from the owner of the computer as to whether he had any critical or personal etc info on the machine that he would not want me to wipe out.
I also was able to view and access the drive using my Ultradock - and I must say it didn't look like he touched much at all...but I am waiting to hear from him at which point i may not have to bother with the repair - I will just wipe the thing...
Again, thanks for the help and getting me able to copy that file over...


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