Windows cannot boot because it cannot find hive. System root/System32/Config/Software is corrupt or missing

Posted on 2010-01-07
Last Modified: 2012-05-08
OK, experts, in 395 questions I have never put HELP! or URGENT! in a question title. I was tempted here, but I didn't.

All I did was remote into the server from my PC and uninstall the AV and hit restart when it said to. It would not and it just showed me the login screen, but I couldn't log in. I rebooted and got the above error message. I researched it via here and Google and found several articles, but I do not want to wing it when the best experts are out there. I did find one for XP that asked me to type a list of commands at the C: prompt in Recovery Console, but I chose not to.

I am running a Dell Server with SBS 2003 Standard Edition R2 with my system on the C: drive and data on my D: drive. the C: drive is a RAID1 and the data is on a RAID5. Two completely separate drives obviously.

Here is what I have at my disposal:

1. The server booted up from the install disk to the recovery console
2. A full backup from Acronis with system state (I believe)
3. A full backup from Backup Assist which uses the Windows Backup Program

I have another server with the exact same OS on a RAID5 just sitting here doing nothing and not connected to anything.

For reasons that I doubt I could ever explain, I do not think I backed up the system states on the NTBackups. I hope they are in the Acronis Backups.

I have two Buffalo II RAID5 NASs on my network, both of which are accessible from this machine. Each backup above is made in duplicate, one copy of each on each NAS.

I would appreciate any advice or input as to what would be the best way to go. Please tell me I can restore the registry.

I also have BartPE disks and the UBCD bootup disk. I also have complete Dell Support I could call, but I am not sure if they would be helpful with a software issue.

I should say I will answer from home. Right now it is midnight, and I am fried. I think if I try to do this now, I will get frustrated and do something stupid.

I guess if worse came to worst, I could fire up the HP with SBS 2003, attach it to the network, and restore some data for Friday.

Thank you.
Question by:Bert2005
    LVL 3

    Accepted Solution

    I might try booting with the Last Known Good Configuration option.  Each time the server starts successfully, the registry hives like system32\config\software (which is HKLM\Software) are simply copied to backup files.  All Last Known Good Configuration does is replace the current registry files with the backup copies.  The worst case is that registry changes made during the last Windows session would be lost.  Assuming the only major thing that happened was the AV uninstall, you might have to go through the registry and clean out the AV stuff (or re-install then uninstall the AV software).
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    Hi JoltinJoe,

    Thanks for the help. It sounded good, but I think it only corrects one key. I tried it.
    LVL 1

    Author Comment


    This is for XP. Would it work with 2003? Probably a dumb question.
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    Weird. All of my hard drives are working according to the configuration utility and other indicators. But, now when I boot from the SBS CD, I can't get into Recovery Console or even start to install Windows. It just keeps saying there are no hard drives present.
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    A little editorial here. I love EE. Obviously, since I am one question away from 400. The experts have gotten me through many hard times and helped me with my computers and network more than I could ever begin to tell.

    But, I was a little disappointed on this one. I can't tell experts which questions they should answer, and maybe very few did. But, an unbootable server is a disaster, and I was really looking for some help.

    Thanks Joe. I appreciated very much your help.

    Write Comment

    Please enter a first name

    Please enter a last name

    We will never share this with anyone.

    Featured Post

    Looking for New Ways to Advertise?

    Engage with tech pros in our community with native advertising, as a Vendor Expert, and more.

    In the event you manage a Small Business Server 2003, and you are audited for PCI compliance, there are several changes you must make in order to pass the audit. I can take no credit for discovering any of these fixes or workarounds, but there is no…
    Introduction At 19:33 (UST) on Tuesday 21st September the long awaited email arrived with the subject title of “ANNOUNCING THE AVAILABILITY OF WINDOWS SBS 7 PREVIEW”.  It was time to drop whatever I was doing and dedicate as much bandwidth as possi…
    Hi everyone! This is Experts Exchange customer support.  This quick video will show you how to change your primary email address.  If you have any questions, then please Write a Comment below!
    In this sixth video of the Xpdf series, we discuss and demonstrate the PDFtoPNG utility, which converts a multi-page PDF file to separate color, grayscale, or monochrome PNG files, creating one PNG file for each page in the PDF. It does this via a c…

    761 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

    Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

    Join & Ask a Question

    Need Help in Real-Time?

    Connect with top rated Experts

    9 Experts available now in Live!

    Get 1:1 Help Now