Dell vostro missing or corrupt start up file

Dell Vostro 220 Desktop PC.  Windows XP Pro.  Will not boot.  Says:  "windows system32 config file is missing or corrupt, insert the windows xp cd and click r to repair.  OK.  What if I don't have a windows xp pro cd.  What are the steps to fix this problem?  BOOT DISKS?
Who is Participating?

[Product update] Infrastructure Analysis Tool is now available with Business Accounts.Learn More

I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

Jonny BTech (CEO)Commented:
Its been a few years since I worked on XP machines.  Sounds to me like a corrupt registry corruption.  Hope the link below helps.  :-)
i would start by testing ram and disk - i use the ubcd for this:
Hardware diagnostic CD    UBCD
go to the download page, scroll down to the mirror section, and  click on a mirror to start the download
Download the UBCD and make the cd   <<==on a WORKING PC, and boot the problem PC from it
Here 2 links, one to the general site, and a direct link to the download

since the downloaded file is an ISO file, eg ubcd527.iso - so you need to use an ISO burning tool
if you don't have that software, install cdburnerXP :

If you want also the Ram tested - run memtest86+ at least 1 full pass,  - you should have NO errors!
direct download :
For disk Diagnostics run the disk diag for your disk brand (eg seagate diag for seagate drive)  from the HDD section -  long or advanced diag !  (runs at least for30 minutes)      

**  you can make a bootable cd - or bootable usb stick
*** note *** for SSD drives  use the tool from the manufacturer, like intel 's toolbox :

for completeness -here's how i handle disk problems :

==>>****in order to be able to  boot from CD or usb - you may have to disable secure boot in the bios
mkramer777Author Commented:
I think I have some bad news. Every recovery CD that I try says that it cannot find the hard disk. I've tried four of them, they all say the same thing. I opened up the computer made sure the cables were all connected properly, disconnect them and reconnected them, but nothing changed. I pulled the hard drive and plugged in to a hard drive USB adapter thing,And I am able to get off my Files but I still want to try and put it back in the computer and see if it'll work. Any ideas?
please post some info on your system - if you want more help:
disk model, Ram, etc
what recovery cd 's did you try?
Jonny BTech (CEO)Commented:
If the hard drive has failed, that would explain why it lost the registry and is giving you errors.  

Pull all your data off using your usb adapter.   Once you have that completed.  Run checkdisk  checking for bad sectors from the computer that the usb adapter is connected to on the drive that is failing.  With some luck, The hard drive may run again, however its really looking like the drive is failing..:-(

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.