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Hevyman

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Missing System32, Won't boot, Repair Console doesn't see drive

Hello,
I have a Dell XPS M1330 running XP pro SP3. It will not longer boot. It starts and goes to a black screen saying Windows cannot start because WINDOWS/SYSTEM32/CONFIG/SYSTEM  is missing or corrupt. I have tried the repair console and it doesn't see the drive even though it is in the Bios and it reads fine as an external drive hooked up to another PC. Is it possible to get this drive to boot any longer without destroying the data that is on the drive?
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AriMc
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It's possible through a long procedure:

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

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JPetersen92020
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Reason your Recovery Console doesn't see the drive is because XP doesn't have the driver for the controller it is hooked up to.  

http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?agr=Y&DwnldID=19599&keyword=965&lang=eng

You will need to download the driver, and load the driver from floppy at the F6 prompt after booting to the Windows CD.  Since you probably don't have a floppy drive on your 1330, use nLiteOS.com to integrate the driver into your installation files and create a new CD to boot from.  Then you can proceed with repairs from Recovery Console.
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Hevyman

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AirMc- I can't get the recovery console to start at all so that won't work.
JPetersen- Do you know of any of those tools that I can use?
Poweredge- I found the link on the nLiteOS.com website. How do I integrate the driver into your installation files and create a new CD to boot from?
Run nLite ... it is very self-explanatory.  It will prompt you for your XP disk so it can copy the files from the disk to a folder, then when you tell it you want to add a driver, it will ask for this driver.  Choose "multiple driver files", select all of them that it presents you with, then choose TextMode.  When it is done, it will ask you if you want to burn the new image to a CD.
There are also some good step by step instructions on nLite's site - if nLite is not self-explanatory enough.
It's much easier to create a USBC4Win disc. If you do that, you just boot from it and run a built in utility to fix the problem automatically.

You can get what you need to make a UBCD4Win disk here.
http://www.ubcd4win.com/downloads.htm
Check the CMOS battery.  Sounds like the SATA BIOS settings got reset.
I agree with edbedb that a UBCD4Win CD is the preferred approach. It has a registry repair tool but I have seen the tool remove all the restore points. It usually works, but, when it doesn't, you may be out of luck.

The problem is a corrupt System hive in the Registry. You can replace only the System hive using thes instructions:

Boot from a UBCD4Win CD and use the a43 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 UBCD4Win and reboot.
Here is the tool (free) from seagate called seatools. Run a diag on your drive to be sure it'll hold on.

http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/support/downloads/seatools
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bad hard drive