Friday, December 21, 2012

Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM

Fellow troubleshooters, please READ this in full before implementing a solution.

One of our clients had this error message displayed on boot "Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM". I immediately decided to repair Windows which took a good 1 hour and more. After the repair i had to validate windows before i could login, it wouldnt do that though i clicked yes on the prompt. I then booted into safe mode with command prompt and typed the command "rundll32.exe syssetup, SetupOobeBnk", with uppercase and lowercase as typed and without quotes (this command increases the validation time to 30 days allowing to login). The command ran and i restarted, to my surprise i reached at the same boot screen i did before 1 hr, saying "Windows could not........ SYSTEM". Having no other bright idea, i called my colleague who advised to do the following. THIS IS THE ACTUAL SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM.

Boot to Mini Xp (this is from Hirens Boot cd, an amazing tool, a must have for every techy) and follow the steps
1. Rename the file c:\Windows\system32\config\system, to systemold.
2. Copy the file c:\Windows\repair\system and paste in the folder c:\Windows\system32\config.
Restart the computer and the problem is solved in less than 10 mins.

Well, not for me. Since i had done the repair (which wasnt required in the first place), i still needed to activate windows. I logged in, and tried to go in programs-> Activate windows. The window wouldnt open. I tried windows update, wouldn't open. Tried to open internet explorer, would close. I figured windows activation would be connected to internet explorer. Thankfully i had chrome installed. I downloaded and installed the latest internet explorer and activated windows normally. Now everything was fixed.
So the most important lesson here is, Always search a bit and consult a colleague before implementing a possible solution, Happy toubleshooting :)