Fix XP: Windows Could Not Start Because the Following File is Missing Or Corrupt

Fix XP:  So, you attempt to start your Windows XP-based Operating System and the hard drive churns several times and you get the following error message on screen:

Windows Could Not Start Because the Following File is Missing Or Corrupt:


You can attempt to repair this file by starting Windows setup using the original setup CD-ROM.
Select ‘r’ at the first screen to start repair.

DON’T BOTHER.  There is a better way.  Basically, the SYSTEM file of the Registry Hive is corrupted.

And the better solution involves some of the steps found in Microsoft Support Article

This involves starting the PC using a Bart’s X-PE (pre-install environment CD) which can start the PC and read the NTFS file system on the hard drive in order to access the c:\System Volume Information directory which contains restore points of the registry.

Incidentally, if you know how to build a Bart’s X-PE utility CD, then your skills likely include the repair method in this blog post.  Just saying …

We will use Bart’s X-PE to boot and then navigate to locate a snapshot subfolder, such as Microsoft’s example:  C:\System Volume Information\_restore{D86480E3-73EF-47BC-A0EB-A81BE6EE3ED8}\RP1\Snapshot

In Bart’s X-PE:

  1. Start Windows Explorer.
  2. On the Tools menu, click Folder options.
  3. Click the View tab.
  4. Under Hidden files and folders, click to select Show hidden files and folders, and then click to clear the Hide protected operating system files (Recommended) check box.
  5. Click Yes when the dialog box that confirms that you want to display these files appears.
  6. Double-click the drive where you installed Windows XP to display a list of the folders. If is important to click the correct drive.
  7. Open the ‘System Volume Information’ folder. This folder is no longer hidden.Note This folder contains one or more _restore point folders within a snapshot sub-folder.

Create a Tmp folder such as C:\Windows\Tmp folder and then copy the following files from the Snapshot sub-folder into the C:\Windows\Tmp folder.  These are the 5 files to copy to \tmp:


IMPORTANT NOTE: Rather than using the most recently saved snapshot – restore point, I would recommend using the second to the most recently saved SNAPSHOT folder to obtain your backup copy of the registry hive because the most recently saved SNAPSHOT may contain a backup of the corrupt registry hive file as well.  You can, however, try to use the most recent snapshot.  I will.  If you can copy the _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SYSTEM file to a /tmp/ folder, then it may not be corrupted.  Just make sure that you use all 5 registry hive files from the same restore point so that they have common or coinciding registry entries.


Using your newly-created \Tmp folder such as C:\Windows\Tmp folder, you will need to rename the following files as shown:


Then, try copying the following 5 registry hive files (which are currently “in-service”) to place them in a backup location before you actually delete them from the in-service location as follows:

del c:\windows\system32\config\sam

del c:\windows\system32\config\security

del c:\windows\system32\config\software

del c:\windows\system32\config\default

del c:\windows\system32\config\system

[In other words, move the above “in-service” files to a backup location in case you need to restore them in-service for whatever reason.  You probably won’t be able to copy ‘SYSTEM’ because it is corrupt.  You can rename it to SYSTEM.CORRUPT, or something similar.]

Now, replace the 5 registry hive files with the renamed snapshot files:

copy c:\windows\tmp\software c:\windows\system32\config\software

copy c:\windows\tmp\system c:\windows\system32\config\system

copy c:\windows\tmp\sam c:\windows\system32\config\sam

copy c:\windows\tmp\security c:\windows\system32\config\security

copy c:\windows\tmp\default c:\windows\system32\config\default

Restart your PC to the Hard Drive rather than starting from Bart’s X-PE CD-ROM utility.

Stay tuned for the rest when I update this post . . .  I have not actually performed the repair on this PC.  It has worked many times on other PC’s.


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