Windows XP SFC - You have inserted the wrong CD

I am working on a custom-built computer (running Windows Home Edition, 2002, Service Pack 3) which came in with a failing hard drive. I managed to clone the failing drive to a new one, though there were 2 sectors which could not be accessed. This has saved the client's documents and applications and, on the whole, I consider myself (and my client) lucky.

Now I am trying to run the System File Checker to ensure that the system files are intact and/or to replace them as necessary. When I attempt to run SFC, it asks for a system CD, which is usually a sign that it has found files it wants to replace.

I have several Windows Home install CD's and have tried them all:
    - Windows XP Home Edition CD
          (a bootleg copy that the client was given by the tech that built her system)
    - Windows XP Home Edition 2002, upgrade CD
    - Windows XP Home Edition 2002 w/SP 2, upgrade CD
    - several OEM install CDs with Windows XP Home Edition

I have also tried a Windows XP Pro 2002 full-install CD (an act of desperation, I admit). In each case, I get the dreaded 'You have inserted the wrong CD' error.

Is there any way I can get one of these to work? Is there any other way I can conduct a System File Check and correct the files that the checker wants to replace? I'd be grateful for any suggestions as to how I can work around this situation and replace the files that the checker finds problematic without having to go out and find the exact CD that SFC seems to want.

Also, I don't know how to determine what CD the system expects; is there a way to do this? If there is no better workaround, at least this would let me know what kind of install CD I need to hunt down.

Thanks for the time you spent reading and considering this.
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when you do the SFC scan and it asks you to insert a tells you the exact disc its expecting i.e. the full usually says something like "Windows XP Home Edition SP2" or "Windows XP Home Edition"...

The only other workaround I can think of this by inserting in the XP Home Disc boot it up and try to repair it through the installer from there...
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
Is Windows specifying what disk it is expecting when it tells you you've put in the wrong CD?

There's a known issue where corrupt files result in you being prompted for the Pro disk for a Home installation

It's also possible the helpful tech who installed this used an bootleg image which isn't based on a normal Home CD.

Can you get the product ID from the failing OS (System Properties > General Tab between Registered to and Computer four blocks of numbers/letters separated by hyphens)?  Post the first two blocks.
cscadminAuthor Commented:
Thanks to both of you for your prompt replies; I really appreciate it.

wshark83, the error message asks me to insert the "Windows XP Home Edition' CD; no mention of year (2002 or 2003) or service pack.

Masqueraid, I don't think this machine is subject to the KB897128 problem, as it doesn't ask for a 'Pro' CD. The numbers in the first two blocks are: 76477-OEM

I would very much like to know how these blocks can be interpreted to tell me which OS CD I need, as I have run into this and similar problems in the past, both in SFC and when trying to perform repair installs. Any information you can pass on would be greatly appreciated!

I performed some more research and found an article at

which suggested that I copy the i386 folder to the root level of the boot drive (C: in my case), edit the registry to direct the SFC to find its source files there and then retry running SFC.

I copied the i386 folder from the CD that the tech gave my client to the root level (C:\), making the assumption that that would be the closest match, since he had given this to her as the same OS that had been installed when the system was built). Then I backed up the registry and performed the edit suggested in the article. Then I tried running SFC again. At this moment, it's about 3/4 of the way through without an error.

Was this a wise thing to do? I can see that, if the number blocks you asked for can tell me which OS version I need, it would probably be better to use that exact CD (and preferably a factory CD), so as to ensure the closest match possible.

I'll post the final result when the process has completed. Which brings up another question: is there a way to find out what actions SFC took when it ran; is there a log of some kind that can tell me what files were replaced?

Again, many thanks to you both for your help.

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You would need to either uninstall SP3 and insert the SP2 CD (then reinstall SP3 when it's done), or insert an XP Home w/SP3 CD.

A slipstreamed CD won't work, because that doesn't actually integrate the SP3 files into the installation as the w/SP3 CD does (all a slipstream CD does is install the SP after the initial install is done... so you cannot e.g. also add SP3 to a XP SP1 CD that's had SP2 slipstreamed).

A home-burnt copy isn't necessarily a "bootleg" by the way... it could have been an ISO downloaded via an MSDN subscription and burnt. As long as it was installed using the key from the CoA on the computer, I don't think that violates microsoft's license terms.
cscadminAuthor Commented:
You would need to either uninstall SP3 and insert the SP2 CD (then reinstall SP3 when it's done), or insert an XP Home w/SP3 CD.
A home-burnt copy isn't necessarily a "bootleg" by the way... it could have been an ISO downloaded via an MSDN subscription and burnt. As long as it was installed using the key from the CoA on the computer, I don't think that violates microsoft's license terms.

Thanks for that info, Darr247; I assume that this would apply to performing a repair install? That's what I normally do in situations requiring such an install.

I knew that the CD might be an ISO or a bit-copy of a legitimate CD but wanted to convey that it was not a retail or other Microsoft-produced CD and that therefore it might be more suspect than such a disk. 'Home-burnt' is a more descriptive term.

What is the 'key from the CoA'?

Again, thanks!
cscadminAuthor Commented:
CoA must be 'Certificate of Authenticity'. Sorry for the silly question; this is what happens when I ask first and drink coffee afterward ...
CoA is Certificate of Authenticity that comes with every 'legal' copy you buy.  Is that what you're asking?

It's got the fine printing details (like the lines on paper money) and holograph strip/decal embedded in it... and is supposed to be affixed to the computer on which the copy of windows was installed (e.g. so that copy cannot be resold to someone else without selling them the entire computer).

Note that OEM copies from legacy builders like Dell, HP, Gateway, Acer, et al, actually use SLP activation and the key they use does NOT match the key on the CoA sticker, though the key on their stickers WILL work to re-install using a regular 'OEM' CD (i.e. it won't work with a 'Retail' version CD).
The CoA sticker on the bottom of laptops typically does not survive more than a year, in my experience... I wish builders would put them under the battery or inside an access door instead.  :-|
cscadminAuthor Commented:
I, too, have been upset, on behalf of my clients, with the short-sighted policy, on MS's part, of printing the CoA on permeable, non-glossy, non-laminated paper. I have had many clients whose product keys, while legitimate, are totally unreadable after a year of rubbing against the client's pants leg or skirt.

In such cases I have often used product key extractor software to recover the current key and put it on a sticker in the battery compartment or elsewhere, in case they ever need it.

Whenever I get a laptop which has a still-readable sticker on the bottom, I carefully cut a piece of clear packing tape and place it over the sticker so that this wear will not happen.

Not a truly professional solution, I grant you, but it gets you up the hill ....
Too slow with my edit... this page - - gives a better explanation of the workings of SLP activation... the other link really explains why XP often "loses" activation when you upgrade components (didn't have the bookmark clearly labeled).
> In such cases I have often used product key extractor software to
recover the current key and put it on a sticker in the battery compartment

If you call the 800 number for activation and give them that extracted key, they won't activate it for you... the keys that legacy manufacturers use is a generic key not unlike those shown at the top of that 'Preserving OEM Pre-Activation ...' article linked in my preceeding message, and doesn't match the key on the sticker, and I'm not sure it will even work if you enter it manually at the OEM key prompt (the key from the original sticker WILL work there, though).
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
76477-OEM is the product ID for XP Home Royalty OEM (see
That will be an SLP protected install CD so you're looking for the manufacturer's OEM CD.
If this is a custom build then the systemboard will be the key in finding which disk you need (unless there's a handy icon from the OEM on the same page as the ProductID to give this away). My gut feeling is you should start with a Dell Home Reinstallation CD matching the SP that's currently on the machine, if that doesn't work then check the motherboard details.
There's a chance though that this is a hybrid disk derived from an SLP original but tweaked to match the BIOS string of any systemboard.  If that's the case you may never get SFC to work without either a repair or a similarly hacked CD (and of course we can't help with the latter).
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
And while we're looking at what may or may not work with OEM activation

The author is a bit of a pain though :)
cscadminAuthor Commented:
Thanks to all of you. The SFC scan I ran after copying the i386 folder to the boot disk's root level and editing the registry completed without any error ... or without any visible error anyway.

Masqueraid and Darr247, thanks for the links to product key ID and OEM activation info and issues; I really appreciate them.

If you have any other words of wisdom you'd care to pass along in this issue, I'd be very interested in hearing them. Thanks for making me a more knowledgeable tech!
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
No I think you've got it :)
As you say the i386 folder contains duplicate files from the installation CD so a good call.
Good tip about the tape over the CoA and you'll be glad to know that increasingly you'll find Win7 CoAs in the battery compartments for just the reasons mentioned.
cscadminAuthor Commented:
The solution I found at:

worked well and provided a solution that didn't involve having to repair-install or track down a particular install CD. I'm not sure what, if any, the limitations of this approach are but it worked well and smoothly in this case.
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