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Missing or corrupt windows\system32\config\system

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Missing or corrupt windows\system32\config\system

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My Dimenstion E510 (w/XP-sp3) locked up and after a reboot I got  "Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \windows\system 32\config\system.

To run the Recovery Console I rebooted from my XP-SP1 disk and when I do dir command at the c: prompt, I get there is no floppy disk or CD in the drive-why would I get this?

I ran the Diagnostics, found I had bad memory, removed 2 GB of memory that had been working fine for the past few months, reran diagnostics and get no errors .

When I go to the Setup screen from the Dell logo window, i see info about my hard disk but it quickly goes away, When I look at the Boot sequence it shows that the Onboard SATA Hard Drive and IDE Hard Drive are not present.

Lots of clues, but i'm puzzled as to what the real problem is and how to fix.

Any ideas will be greatly appreciated. I do have an external drive that currently contains most of my data files, but i'm not sure if it has my son's iTunes files.





  • Dimension E510
  • Windows XP, SP-3
All Replies
  • Did diagnostics include HDD?


    Quote “there is no floppy disk or CD in the drive-why would I get this?

    Sounds like the “other” clues – HDD detection problems


    First check for bad/loose Hard Drive/mobo cable connections


    If connections are OK, then unfortunately it’s most likely a failing/failed HDD with bad sectors

    Recovery would be subject to extent of damaged sectors?


    If you only have a Dell OEM XP SP1 version disc & intend to do a Clean Install, you should use it to create a Windows slipstreamed CD to include SP2 or SP3 & the E510 SATA drivers


  • I too have a similar problem.  Today when I tried to boot up my computer I saw the Dell logo and then it went to black screen with the message:  Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:  \windows\system32\config\system.  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.

    Now I am not computer savvy when it comes to problems so I don't totally understand all the lingo.  One thing I want to know is do I need to re-format my hard drive? As for the CD they are asking for - all I have is a CD named Reinstallation CD  Microsoft Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2.  I don't want to put it in and then find out it is the wrong CD to use.  Then I fear I will be totally screwed!  Also how do I know it's not my hard drive?  Would I get this same screen if my hard drive was fried?  Grrrr  this is so frustrating.  We were just using my desktop last night and everything was fine.  My husband brought it up from sleep mode this morning and this is what he found.  My computer is about 2 yrs old and it is an Inspiron 530 with XP Professional  Intel Core 2 Duo Procesor E6550  4MB L2 Cache, 2.33GHZ 1333 FSB  500GB Serial ATA Hard Drive w/DataBurst Cache

    Any help I can get will be greatly appreciated. I don't want to make the problem worse than it is right now so I would like some advice on my next step.  As I said I am not computer technical savvy so please 'speak to me as if I am a 3 yr old' *smile*

    Thanks ahead of time for your patience and assistance.





  • That is the correct CD. 


    You have two possibilities, it is just a file system corruption, or a corrupt OS. 


    Boot off of that CD, when it does "enter ot setup, r for repair" press R.  Select 1 for the install to repair, put in your admin password, then type: chkdsk c: /r   This will repair the file system.  When finished, reboot and see if that fixes it.  if not, boot off of the CD again, this time, at that page, press ENTER, then do the "I Agree" F8 stuff.  At this point, it should find your existing Windows and offer to repair it.  Agree to repair it, and you will be back online in 20 minutes.  You do the CHKDSK first because, if the file system is corrupt, the repair would do no good until you perform it anyways, so do it first. 

  • I'm sure you will think me foolish to ask this question but I will anyway.  When you say 'boot off of that CD' does that mean to shut the computer down first and then put the CD in and turn it on again?  Just don't want to make any mistakes at this point.  Also is the admin password the same password I use to open my computer?  I don't know of another one if that is the not the one.

    Thanks again for your help in this matter.

  • Im not very smart when it comes to computers. Can you help me understand how to make a slipstream CD? I only have the service pk 1 Re-installation cd.  Any help with this would be very helpful.  thank you so much for your time..