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Windows XP, Restore Points and a corrupted SYSTEM registry

Posted by jpluimers on 2014/08/11

If you ever had one of the below errors and your system does not have Restore Points, then you’re hosed: virtually no chance for recovering from that (except for once case, see below).

The errors are these:

  • Windows XP could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM
  • Windows XP could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SOFTWARE
  • Stop: c0000218 {Registry File Failure} The registry cannot load the hive (file): \SystemRoot\System32\Config\SOFTWARE or its log or alternate
  • System error: Lsass.exe
    When trying to update a password the return status indicates that the value provided as the current password is not correct.

To recover from this error, you have to follow the steps in How to recover from a corrupted registry that prevents Windows XP from starting, which requires you to have System Restore turned on as the global steps boil down to this:

  1. From the Recovery Console (you can create a USB boot stick with the Windows XP Recovery Console), backup the registry files from the %systemroot%\system32\config directory to the %systemroot%\registrybak directory.
  2. Copy the registry files from the %systemroot%\Repair directory to the the %systemroot%\system32\config directory.
  3. Reboot.
  4. Copy the registry files from a System Restore Point to the %systemroot%\tmp directory.
  5. From the Recovery Console the %systemroot%\Repair directory

Unlike Windows 2000, which has a %systemroot%\Repair\Regback directory if you created an Emergency Repair Disk (see Fix a fragmented or corrupted SYSTEM hive file with Recovery Console | TechRepublic), Windows XP only has a %systemroot%\Repair directory that contains the registry created right after the firs installation.

To protect you against such an error, you have to regularly create a Restore Point. This often happens when you reinstall new software. You can also do this manually by running this:


It is the command equivalent of these steps from Create a System Restore Point in Windows XP — Information Technologies — Penn State College of Ag Sciences:

  1. Click Start,
  2. then All Programs.
  3. Slide right to Accessories,
  4. choose System Tools,
  5. then System Restore.

If you do not have system restore enabled, it will get you to the settings Window for System Restore. Enable the check mark, and give it a proper size (a couple of % of your HDD space suffices).

The slim chance to recover from a SYSTEM hive that fails to load

At the start I mentioned there is a small chance to recover from these errors.

It might be that one of your registry files have become so fragmented so the NTLDR cannot load it. This is a known issue in some Windows 2000 versions, but appears to be an issue with Windows XP too.

If that is the case, these steps from Fix a fragmented or corrupted SYSTEM hive file with Recovery Console | TechRepublic can recover it:

  1. Boot into the Recovery Console
  2. Execute these commands (you can put them into a small text file “DefragCFG.txt” and execute it in the recovery console using BATCH DefragCFG.txt)


  3. Wait until the system has rebooted.
  4. Create a Restore Point

What happens is that the defragmented SYSTEM.OLD file is copied to a (less fragmented) SYSTEM file which the hive loader can load.


via: windows – How to repair xp corrupt registry file? – Super User.

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