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

Posted on 2011-10-29
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

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

    Expert Comment

    Does it not reference a file that is missing?
    LVL 5

    Assisted Solution

    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?
    LVL 24

    Expert Comment

    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 38

    Expert Comment

    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

    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
    LVL 5

    Accepted Solution

    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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