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Access Recovery Console during XP Install

Posted on 2009-07-01
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Last Modified: 2012-05-07
Yesterday my copy of XP failed to reach the login screen (it would freeze just before).  Therefore I started an in-place of Windows XP SP2.  The installation advanced past entering the product key and then failed.  In reading the setupapi.log, it appears there is a permission issue with the current registry causing the install to continually fail.

Since the install is so far along, I am no longer able to access the Recovery Console.  I know how to restore the default registry hives, boot windows, then restore my original registry files and do a system restore.  However I cannot get access to the Recovery Console to do so.  I was able to remove the XP disk to cause the install to halt then do a SHIFT F10 to get a Command Prompt, but when I try to backup the existing hives and / or restore the original ones, I receive a message a process is already using them.

How can I boot XP to go directly to the Recovery Console before the setup starts so I can get access to them before setup does?

Thanks in advance.  BTW, a complete format is not really an option as there is data on the drive I cannot lose nor do I have the time to reinstall dozen of software programs.
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Question by:perdiemconsulting
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noxcho earned 168 total points
ID: 24759154
No way to go to Recovery Console before setup starts (thanks to MS).
But you could connect the drive as slave to working machine and to backup\restore its registry.
Anyhow the common start of Recovery Console from CD is described here: http://pcsupport.about.com/od/fixtheproblem/ss/rconsole.htm
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by:tmasters2876
tmasters2876 earned 166 total points
ID: 24760217
You could also download the ultimate boot cd for windows and restore registry hives, or change the boot.ini or anything in a preboot environment so you can possibly make it past that point.  You can also get all your files off using this software by attaching a USB/ESATA hard drive, or even burn the items to a DVD or CD with it.  Pretty well versitile these tools are.  Free too.

http://www.ubcd4win.com/
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by:Iain MacMillan
Iain MacMillan earned 166 total points
ID: 24771215
you could access the RC from an XP OS CD, press R to access the console, once loaded and you choose your windows install - run CHKDSK /R to check the disk for faults and make the system bootable again.

if you know the hive thats causing the issue - SYSTEM is the easiest to fix, if SOFTWARE or SECURITY are the issue, then its a bigger problem (well SECURITY is a nightmare).  System will rebuild itself as soon as you successfully login, by re-detecting all your hardware and loading drivers, Software will mean that as far as the registry is concerned, you have nothing installed except OS, but the add/remove program list will still show nothing, but all your data & apps will be intact and work.  You just need to re-install them to re-create the entries.  

In the recovery console you should be able to access the folder that holds the Hives - C:\WINDOWS\system32\config, you need to rename the one thats causing you the issue, and copy the master version from C:\WINDOWS\repair to replace it -- this is created when your OS was first installed.  Once this is done, you should be able to exit to restart your system, and it should hopefully boot-up fine.  I have had issues on some systems with permissions not allowing copying/renaming, in this case i would recommend using a program like ERD Commander to gain access to the file system and you can use basic mouse/explorer access to rename and copy files.
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