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Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby SlyckTom » Thu Feb 28, 2008 6:53 pm

Hey all...

So my friend's computer is displaying the following dreaded message during boot:

windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \windows\system32\config\system.

Normally I would attempt to repair the damage with the setup CD-Rom...however the problem is that I can't even get the computer to boot from the CD/DVD Rom...Everything appears to boot normally until just prior to Windows XP loading...

I get 1 Post beep, which is normal...

I tried altering the boot sequence, nothing.
I tried removing the slave disc drive, nothing.

So I'm at a loss...If I can't boot from the CD/DVD drive, I'm left to wonder what I can do...any ideas?
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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby Fartingbob » Thu Feb 28, 2008 6:56 pm

Might have to format the drive. If you have a spare lying around, plug that in, take the current one out. Install windows, then put the old one back in, see if you can access any of it to save data from within the fresh install.
Download HDtune, it can do a check of the entire drive and identify any corrupt blocks, as well as a few other features that will tell you if the drive is physically ok or not. If that all checks out then you know it just need a good ol' formatting and a flood of swear words if they dont have a backup.
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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby LANjackal » Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:17 pm

Have you tried System Restore back to a date the PC was stable? It's saved me a couple times and could help ...
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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby Psycho Ced » Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:21 pm

Go to the BIOS. (normally Delete of f2)
Go to the "Boot" menu
Look for boot device priority
Make sure the first device is the CD/DVD rom.

Edit: should have read the last lines:

If you can't get in, try find the boot menu, it will be one of the F keys F5 or F8 (which ever one is not the windows advance start up menu) or F10 or 12
choose the cd/DVd rom

Also make sure the Disk is bootable. Some media center setups have 2 disks where the second is not bootable.
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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby SlyckTom » Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:37 pm

It won't let me get to a point where I can even use system restore...bah

Anywho...I was able to hook the drive up to another machine, and all the important data is intact...So...I'll just wipe it out and start anew..

I personally can't stand this particular computer...so I can't say I'm surprised.
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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby SlyckTom » Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:41 pm

Psycho Ced wrote:Go to the BIOS. (normally Delete of f2)
Go to the "Boot" menu
Look for boot device priority
Make sure the first device is the CD/DVD rom.

Edit: should have read the last lines:

If you can't get in, try find the boot menu, it will be one of the F keys F5 or F8 (which ever one is not the windows advance start up menu) or F10 or 12
choose the cd/DVd rom

Also make sure the Disk is bootable. Some media center setups have 2 disks where the second is not bootable.


Did all that...changed the boot priority, and went to the boot menu...no good...

And we don't have media center evilness ;)
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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby Paladwyn » Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:41 pm

No...there is a real easy way to fix this, and it also may be tougher to fix, I've seen this problem multiple times with Win2k, as well as WinXP.

First off, you can try to boot to the CD and get tot he repair console, and...yes..type in an old command..

CHKDSK /P

Thsi will do a check of the disk and repair any damaged files. This may or may not work. If it doesn't, you can try to do a repair of the system, or do a system restore. There is a way to do a manual system restore by copying over the "config" file from the "repair" directory through the repair console. I can't quite remember what the directory path is.

I would try the CHKDSK first, as I've seen hours spent on a computer where I had it fixed in 10 minutes with this.
This also works for when Windows decides to reboot over and over, usually the same type of problem, however it reboots before you can see the message. Funny thing is, this is how WinXP got rid of Blue Screens, just reboots the computer before you see it.
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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby Paladwyn » Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:45 pm

I read deeper about the boot not working off the disc.

Depending on the disc, and the computer, you may have to get it to completely ignore all the other drives in BIOS, especially if the hard drive is SATA.

I had a hell of a time once tryign to get the computer to boot off the CD, it purely refused to do so. Took a bit of playing around, even using a different drive to fix that.

I would try using a different CD rom, as it seems that it doens't like the disc for some reason. And some computers try to boot off CD's weird. You could also remove all hard drives and try a CD rom to see if it is even trying. Like i said, my main problem there is the drive, or the disc.
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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby SlyckTom » Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:49 pm

Did all that jazz...all of it...Eliminated every boot drive except the CD/dvd drive. It wont boot at all....even if I yell at it really loud. (tried that too)

el no booto del disko...

In any case, it's all moot anyway, I am going to annihilate the drive.


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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby Paladwyn » Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:52 pm

That is WERID that it won't boot off the CD...sounds like there is another problem, as if you wipe the drive you still won't be able to install windows, due to you can't use the CD.

I really wish I could remember what I had to do to get that one drive working once. Is it a SATA drive?
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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby SlyckTom » Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:52 pm

Did all that jazz...all of it...Eliminated every boot drive except the CD/dvd drive. It wont boot at all....even if I yell at it really loud. (tried that too)

El no booto del disko....

In any case, it's all moot anyway, I am going to annihilate the drive.


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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby SlyckTom » Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:56 pm

Paladwyn wrote:That is WERID that it won't boot off the CD...sounds like there is another problem, as if you wipe the drive you still won't be able to install windows, due to you can't use the CD.

I really wish I could remember what I had to do to get that one drive working once. Is it a SATA drive?


No, UATA...

And funny you should mention...I'm a bit concerned something else is wrong and that I won't be able to reinstall windows...

However, there are two CD drives, and it didn't boot from either, so I'm not so sure that could be it.
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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby Paladwyn » Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:01 pm

Try using a different cable on the primary IDE port instead of secondary, if you haven't already put it there. Basically, may the drive primary master and then do the proper boot configs to get the drive to boot. All that rigamarole of doing drive settings gets irritating. If the motherboard does support SATA at all, it may be conflicting, or if there is an UGH SCSI card in it, that could be a problem too.
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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby velatire » Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:02 pm

CD drive is on the first master IDE, right?
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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby konkat » Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:11 pm

I was getting corrupted \windows\system32\config\system files on a previous system. Hive files were not getting unloaded during shutdown. Uphclean helps reduce the corruption problem.

My method for getting my system back up and running was to boot WinPE, start up regedit and open the corrupted hive file. By loading the hive file regedit was usually able to correct the corruption. Worst case scenario you can always replace the corrupted hive file with an older copy.

Not sure why the system isn't booting off CD. Without the ability to boot off CD you're out of luck no matter what you intend to try.
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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby Paladwyn » Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:14 pm

Yeah...it seems there may be more of a problem than he wants to know about. The config errors are due to things not shutting down properly, or being written properly - infact the Hive files not being written.

Since he's reporting having problems with the CD drives as well, I would almost be concerned that a cable could be bad or worse, if it's not sending/recieving information to the motherboard correctly, this could be an issue. I've seen those IDE cables split/break/come apart at the connectors.

If this doesn't work, then you may need to explore a motherboard issue.
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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby SlyckTom » Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:27 pm

The IDE cables are hooked up properly...but I'll take an extra cable with me just in case...

I have not hooked up a CD drive as the primary drive...if I run out of options, I'll give it a shot.

So here's how I stand:

I just formated the drive. I'll reinstall it, and try installing XP.
If its a no go, I'll remove the CD/DVD drives and hook one up as primary...
I'll see how it goes from there...(fingers crossed)
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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby HalOfBorg » Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:37 pm

If you can't boot from CD....how are you going to re-install XP? This starts by booting from the CD.

I've heard of a collection of boot floppies for XP, but never used one.

Have you tried another bootable CD? Maybe that one bad.

Can the Mobo boot from USB?

Maybe the jumper on the CD ROM is set wrong and Windows was still able to use it somehow?

EDIT

WAIT A MINUTE. How old is this board? Maybe it's the 3D Vid card/XP Setup problem! I had that on one - just when it got to the 'Starting Windows' part of installing - CRASH. Change Vid card for the install. My KT7-RAID had a BIOS update that fixed it.
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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby SlyckTom » Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:50 pm

The burning question of the hour is why I can't boot from the CD drives. I am very concerned about this question as well, because I have absolutely no answer for it. I have never run into this problem before.

Could it be that the hard drive was in such bad shape it wouldn't allow the CD to boot? I don't know. Is it possible that the hard drive and CD drives went bad at the same time? I don't know.

Perhaps the MOBO went bad, which in turn corrupted the hard drive and cut off the CD drives? I don't know. I wouldn't be too surprised...I think its an ASrocks or some compusa POS. It's probably between 5-7 years old by now...

I haven't tried another bootable CD, but I know this one is good.

As for you edit, it doesn't even get to the Starting Windows page....the entire boot sequence goes great, save for the inability to boot from CD and that error message.
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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby Paladwyn » Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:55 pm

I've seen drive failures do all kinds of neat things, everything from DVD burners that blew up power supplies, hard drives that did cause CD drives to not function, to not even allowing the computer to boot.

I've seen modems cauase computers not to boot. Like I said, the one thing I would do is run a different CD rom with a new cable on a different port with a known good disc with no other drives installed at all. If all that doens't work, then there may no hope.
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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby Psycho Ced » Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:38 am

I wonder if the DVD needs a firmware update. Still the option to boot from the CD should still show up. Try another CD?
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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby MetalFuture » Fri Feb 29, 2008 3:41 am

SlyckTom wrote:Could it be that the hard drive was in such bad shape it wouldn't allow the CD to boot? I don't know. Is it possible that the hard drive and CD drives went bad at the same time? I don't know.



If you changed the boot seq to CD first, the HD would not have anything to do with the booting (or lack there of) the CD drive, that would be controlled by the BIOS not the OS. I think the others migth have been on to something. only one of your CD drive can be the "boot" device and it is usually the one on IDE 0,, secondary channel.

IDE 0, master is usually a Hard driie
IDE 0, secondary is usually a CD drive
IDE 1, master is Harddrive
IDE 1, secondary is another CD drive

Of course they can be anyway you like them to be as long as you set the pinouts correctly, or if using cable select, depending on where you plug them in on the ribbon cable.

I would follow some of the above suggestions and make sure that you only have the HD that has the OS on it and make it IDE 0, Master (also check the pinouts and make sure it is on the correct connector of the ribbon cable) and then one CD drive (the newer one, if you can tell) and have it on IDE 0, secondary (check the pinouts and locations on the cable). If that fails, you can kix it up,and switch them, changing the pintouts to match their new order (master or slave).

Most of that was generally said already, just expanding on it somewhat.

Good luck.

EDIT: oh, Psycho Ced made me think aboout something, use a CD drive over the DVD drive if you have it. Firmware on DVD drives can be a bitch (as in acting goofy)
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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby Lee1001 » Fri Feb 29, 2008 4:12 am

Start computer Press F8 immediatly,select "last good.."

Also try to find a"driver reset tool"for your computer
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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby lordfoul » Fri Feb 29, 2008 4:37 am

Not booting from IDE is bad. Swap the IDE cable and cd/dvd drive with a proven cable and drive then reset the bios to default settings and set the boot priority appropriately. Unplug everything that is not necessary for a successful boot including the secondary HD drive. If you have a boot disk you can boot from that you've tried from a working pc, use it to try the test boot. A proven SATA cable swap wouldn't be a bad idea either if your able. If the thing won't boot your problems are mobo related.

As an aside check the mobo battery, test by setting the time plugged in, unplug, check 10 minutes later. If the time is retained the battery is strong enough to maintain settings for SATA at least for your boot test.


Good luck Tom.

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Re: Computer failure: Windows could not start because...

Postby anonomously2 » Fri Feb 29, 2008 6:51 am

If things were functioning properly before and you were able to boot from the CD in question before, there is something that I've experienced, although I think its rare. Windows XP as with most other windows OS's sends changes or updates to your Bios, but for some reason Win XP has sometimes sent an anomalous code and changed things that were not intended. If you are knowledgeable in how your Bios is suppose to be setup, then go over all settings of the Bios of this previously operational system. If there is no correction to be made, it may be an indication that your bios is going south, which means replacing either the Bios or the System Board. :? :shock:

P.S. It could also be chipset related which unfortunately means changing System board. :(
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