Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt in Windows Server 2003 Domain Conroller

Posted on 2011-10-29
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
Dear all,

I have windows server 2003 that works as a Domain controller, after restarting the server I found this message
"Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt. C:\windows\system32\config\system"

I tried to fix it, but I lost the domain controller settings.

Could you help me fix this error while keeping my DC setting.

Thanks & waiting for your replies ASAP...

Note: I don't have a recent backup in hand now!!!
Question by:nettech1998

Expert Comment

ID: 37051182
Try runing a chkdsk /r noted in the following article.  Let me know if that does not help.

Expert Comment

ID: 37051193
Does it not reference a file that is missing?

Assisted Solution

d_nedelchev earned 2000 total points
ID: 37051203
Backup the C:\WINDOWS\System32\config directory and look for for C:\WINDWOS\repair there should be a backup copy of "SYSTEM" registry hive file. Replace C:\WINDOWS\System32\config\SYSTEM with it and the OS should start ok. At least in theory. Since this backup file was created when Windows was installed you probably will have to reinstall some drivers. As for the DC settings what steps exactly you took trying to fix the issue and how tey got lost? Did you make any backup?
Making Bulk Changes to Active Directory

Watch this video to see how easy it is to make mass changes to Active Directory from an external text file without using complicated scripts.

LVL 24

Expert Comment

ID: 37051668
Do you have systemstate backup? How many DC do you have in the environment.

If you have multiple DC in the network no need to worry demote this server and promote it back.As this server is not booting.If this server is fsmo role holder sieze the role on other dc followed by metadata cleanup to remove the instances of the server from AD database and DNS and promote the server back as DC.

Reference link:

But if you have single DC in the environment then you are really in trouble.If you have systemstate backup you can restore the same.

Note:You can also open a case with Microsoft if you have single DC in the n/w.
LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 37052436
System File Checker makes sure the proper versions and necessary files are set up to make the OS. If you have the original install disk, go to the command prompt of the server and type SFC /scannow. Make sure you do this off hours, and make sure you have your OS install disk in hand.

Author Comment

ID: 37054076
Dear d_nedelchev,

I tried these steps :
1. Insert your Windows Server 2003 CD and reboot from the CD drive
[To boot from CD, go to BIOS Setup option on startup and select your CD/DVD drive as the first boot drive, save the present settings and exit]
Your computer will reboot & will boot from Windows Server 2003
2. Press ‘R’ when offered the option of using the Windows Recovery Console
Recovery Console will prompt at the command prompt type the following:
C:\WINDOWS >cd system32\
this changes the current directory to C:\Windows\System32
ren config configold
This renames the config folder to configold
mkdir config
this makes a new directory called config
cd config
changes the current directory to c:\Windows\System32\Config
then type the following lines pressing enter after each one
copy c:\windows\repair\system
copy c:\windows\repair\software
copy c:\windows\repair\sam
copy c:\windows\repair\security
copy c:windows\repair\default
after each line it should say:
1 file copied
type: exit
Now Server will reboot

Also, I copied the missing file from another windows server. The system is booting, but my DC is not working because the settings is not the same either ways.

Note: Only one DC is there and I don't have a system state Backup within last six months

Accepted Solution

d_nedelchev earned 2000 total points
ID: 37054189
Well the steps you took are correct, but a little bit too much.

What I think would do the job is:

1. Boot from Windows Server 2003 CD into Recovery Console.

2. Run chkdsk C: /p

3. cd system32\config

4. del /Q /F *.*

5. copy C:\WINDWOS\SYSTEM32\configold\* .\

6. copy /Y C:\WINDOWS\repair\system .\

7. type: exit

Basically what you did was right, but you only needed to replace "C:\WINDOWS\System32\config\SYSTEM" with "C:\WINDOWS\repair\SYSTEM".

I hope that will do the job.

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