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Windows XP - USB Keyboard/Mouse Not Working After Corrupt Registry Reboot

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Windows XP - USB Keyboard/Mouse Not Working After Corrupt Registry Reboot

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Dell desktop XPS running Windows XP Media Edition

Had power outage today, causing this error message on reboot:

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


Used the manual recovery steps from this Microsoft Knowledge Base article:

Got WIndows to restart.  But when trying to reboot into Safe Mode, or just letting it go into last good configuration, my USB keyboard and mouse don't work, thus I can't access anything to complete system restore to my last good restore point.  Those devices work before Windows is started - for example, when pressing F8 at startup and I get into the Windows mode menu, I can use the USB keyboard to select which boot option.  But then as it load, I lose that USB functionality.


So what can I do now to get input device functionality and thus complete repairing Windows XP to get to where we were before the power outage?



All Replies
  • DJG500,

    Thank you for using the Dell Community F orum.

    What Dell system are you having this problem on?

  • XPS/Dimension 400/9150

    Processor, 80547, PENTIUM D SMITHFIELD FOR DESKTOPS..., 820 SKT-T, Male

    Addendum to my previous post -  When system got into Windows, I did try unplugging all the USB plugs and replugging them in, but that didn't help.  I'm "dead in the water" when the system gets into Windows.



  • DJG500


    Information you probably don’t want to hear – sorry Sad


    1. WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM type error tends to point to a failing hard drive


    2. You should not use the method described in MS KB 307545, article includes such a warning


    At this stage I’m not sure if you can (if important) save/recover your personal data files, then see if the hard disk drive (HDD) can be repaired?


    Sometimes that error can be caused by lose HDD/motherboard cable connections (if you are lucky)


    Meanwhile I suggest you read this recent thread click here & also read other thread links I reference in that thread if you want a full understanding of issues & possible solutions


    USB keyboard/mouse should work in Windows Setup – reply if they don’t


  • Thanks Bell Boy.

    USB Keyboard worked in Windows Recovery Console and when I was selecting Windows boot up options - keyboard conks out when Windows loads.  As I mentioned, this problem started with a power outage, and I had done something similar to the Windows recovery per MSK 307545 before, last time this happened.  I did read that thread you mentioned while I was in the midst of this.  I am about to go out of town for a few days, but will try doing the system diagnostics when I return. 

    As also mentioned, I fortunately have a Norton Ghost backup image on a second hard drive that it only about 3 weeks old, so I can try using that if nothing else seems to work.  And if the hard drive is truly failing, well I can copy the backup drive image to that.  But in the meantime, I appreciate other ideas to see how to restore the USB input device functionality.


  • Have run system diagnostics on the hard drive and USB controller, plus mouse response.  No problems indicated.  Able to use USB keyboard and mouse when using the diagnostics from the hard drive utility partition and prior to Windows boot.   Maybe it's a problem with the USB driver in Windows?

    I'm hoping someone has an idea short of Windows repair to regain keyboard/mouse input at this point so I can complete restoring the system.  (Anybody?)


    Otherwise, on Tuesday night I plan to try the Windows CD and go to Install, and see if it recognizes a prior installation, so I can use the repair function (which I now realize that I should have tried before the recovery console option).  If that doesn't work, I may have to resort to restoring a disk image via Norton Ghost - an option that's not so appealing now that I have checked that my last backup was in July, rather than last month.

  • In case anyone is following this thread - I have resolved the issue by using the Norton Ghost program and my backup disk image.   Before I resorted to do that, I tried the Windows XP repair function from the CD Install menu (rather than recovery console).  I tried it twice and it stalled after the reboot -to-hard drive function (where, I presume, XP attempts to repair itself based on the settings from its initial installation).  I suspect the reason why was that DELL SENT THE WRONG WINDOWS XP CD with my computer!  Although the CD was labeled as "Windows XP Media Center" version and it came from Dell, I realized in the middle of the repair install attempt that it was actually "Windows XP Pro".  On the 2nd go-round, the repair install applet found the previous installation on my computer as "Windows XP Pro" rather than Media Center, due to the failed repair on the 1st go-round. 

    As noted, fortunately, I have backup stuff - again showing the value of investing in backup software and 2nd hard drives/external hard drives.  BUT - I have a useless XP CD from Dell for this computer that practically requires me to use backups for any type of Windows corruption.  If anyone from Dell is reading this post, I'd appreciate your response on fixing this problem and avoiding it for anyone who buys Dell computers.

  • Didn’t reply yesterday because I believed you were heading to Norton Ghost backup image, assuming it contained recent MS updates & most of your personal data, whereas the Repair Install would require reinstall MS Updates


    Anyhow I guess the main question is – is HDD OK?


    Quote “I had done something similar..….before, last time this happened

    Wasn’t sure if you meant windows\system32\config\system error had happened before?

    In which case the HDD is probably suspect?


    Strange issue about the Dell OEM Windows CD, as supplied with D400

    If preinstalled OS was XP Media Center Edition (as shown on COA sticker) then you would need a separate licence if OEM CD wasn’t Windows MCE?


    Similar questions have been raised in these Forums & the subject can become confusing because MCE is an add-on to XP Pro but with some features removed (e.g. Active Directory domain)

    Answers vary & seem to depend on the Edition of preinstalled MCE, some reporting two Windows CDs were supplied for MCE??


    Maybe you should contact Dell & request correct backup CD – read this thread, click here


  • Thanks for your response.  Yes, hard drive appears fine - passed all diagnostics I ran.

    I had had the windows\system32\config\system error before when we also had a power outage while the computer was on - maybe 3 years ago.  This recent event was an identical circumstance.  I've had hard drives go bad on me before and this situation had none of those signs.

    I have written Dell and gotten very unsatisfactory responses so far.  Dell said that computer is out of warranty and that I should have notified Dell within 30 days if something was missing/wrong in the order.

    Am still pursuing the issue with that customer rep - I pointed out that I had no way to suspect w/in the 1st 30 days that Dell had mislabeled an OS CD it provided me, so Delll should fix the problem it generated. 

    Meanwhile, I'll try ordering via the website you linked to and see if that department at Dell wants to demonstrate its commitment to customer service, or refuses to fix a Dell error as the other one is doing so far.



  • Hi DJG500


    Could be wrong, but posting exact content of any correspondence from Dell probably violates DCF TOS

    I know it doesn’t contain any secure personal data

    You can either wait & see if your post is deleted or hit the Edit button & remove content or just summarize Dells’ response



    Power loss can & does cause corruption of HDD system files but normally results in BSOD – NTFS.SYS error


    I have come across that a few times after users have either pressed power on/off button or pulled power plug, instead of using normal Windows Shutdown process


    Under these circumstances the most successful repair method is to use Recovery Console & run the command chkdsk /r to repair damaged HDD sector system files – but then you need the correct Windows CD




  • Thanks again.  Was not aware of policy re: posting customer correspondence.  I edited my previous reply just in case to excise the exact quote.

    In meantime, I got a response when I followed up with the media order form that you linked me too.  Got a better response - Dell said they would send me a replacement XP Media Center DVD (OK - my mistake, not a CD) as a "one time deal only" as it is out of warranty.  So thanks for the lead on trying that option.  Hopefully this prepares me for the "next time" (hoping that doesn't happen), but for anyone reading these posts - if you care about what's on your computer, use a backup system!  Norton Ghost is what I used and it has worked for me in this case.

  • DJG500,

    Were you able to get the USB ports working before resorting to Ghost? Perhaps with the repair option from the Windows installation disc?

    I'm working on a similar PC for a friend that has the same problems. I can get into the BIOS and boot to CD with the USB keyboard, but as soon as Windows loads, USB stops working. The USB ports also test fine from the diagnostic partition.



  • J.D. - that was my problem, and no, I could not get the USB keyboard and mouse working before resorting to Ghost.  (Otherwise, I might not have needed to use Ghost as I intended to try Windows System  Restore).

    It sounds like your friend's PC is exactly where I was after I used the Recovery Console (NOT Install-Repair from the installation disk) to get Windows to load again.  As I discussed above, when the USB devices didn't work, I tried to use the Install-Repair from the Windows DVD, but that probably failed due to Dell's providing me w/ the wrong "flavor" of Windows XP on that DVD.  So I can't say if it would work or not if you try that w/ a CD or DVD with the identical version of XP.  I can tell you that since I restored the hard drive image using Ghost, all seems to work just as it did before this round of system problems.

    Please let me know how you end up fixing this PC.  Thanks.

  • I see. I couldn't tell if you had ever run the repair option from the correct disc. This PC is just XP Home, so I'm going to give that a try after I back up what's on the hard drive and then let you know. Thanks for the prompt reply!

  • I tried a repair install but it did not work either. The USB mouse and keyboard did not respond. This is probably due to the same issues as before, but I'm not completely positive, as there was some nasty malware that popped up *during* the repair install. I've never seen anything like it. Since I had the files backed up, I ended up wiping it with a clean install, and then the USB mouse and keyboard started working again. This is a pain, as I've seen more PCs with just USB, which makes sense as far as universality goes, but it's somewhat of an oversight on the manufacturers' part, in my opinion.

    Thanks again, and have a great weekend.

  • Hello, yesterday i to had used microsoft's advice on manually system restoring using the recovery console. I had successfully did it once before (the mouse did not work during part one, but the keyboard did), but this time the keyboard and mouse do not respond once the windows login screen starts. So the major link here is the manual system restore that causes devices to not be functional. All the files are still there (with i'd prefer not to lose), its so closed to being fixed i just need to use a mouse or keyboard to fix it fully. Has anyone found a way to get the mouse or keyboard working??