Some tips to bring your Windows xp back to life.

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Each of the following options operate differently and work on different problems, since you don’t know what’s preventing the system from booting, I’d suggest you to try them one by one starting from top to bottom until you solve your problem.

Recovery options:

  • Last good known configuration
  • Recovery console and Checkdisk
  • Windows xp repair ( press “R”  option)
  • Registry hives recovery from snapshots ( files generated by system restore points
  • Half installation + Copy and paste


To perform last good known configuration:  ( it brings the operative system configuration back  to last time it booted successfully)

  • Turn on the pc
  • Wait until bios logo and devices detection completes and hit F8 button as soon the screen turns completely black  (it lasts 2 seconds at most).
  • You’ll see a menu with different options–à choose “last known good configuration”
  • Hit return

If you’re lucky enough, your  xp will boot successfully. If it doesn’t….go over step Two:

Recovery console and CheckDisk

  • Insert you xp cd  into your optical device and reboot your pc.
  • Go ahead until you find a menu where you have 3 options.  Choose: “To repair a windows installation using Recovery Console  press R”.
  • You will be asked to choose the operative sys you have to work with, just press “1”
  • You will be asked for the Administrator pdw,  most of the times there’s no password set, so live it blank  and hit return.
  • If blank pwd is accepted, you’ll see something that looks  like this c:\Windows\Administrator>
  • Type chkdsk /p /r  and wait until the whole process completes.
  • Once you’re back to “c:\Windows\Administrator>” type exit and reboot the pc

This operation shall remove any corrupted sectors or data on disk that were preventing xp from from booting.   I have fixed windows  this way plenty of times.


Windows xp Auto repair

  • Turn on the pc
  • Insert the xp installation cd, and make sure that the optical drive is the selected device for booting.
  • When the cd starts, keep going UNTIL you get to the EULA contract where you’ll have to press F8.
  • At next menu, you’ll have to select the operative system that you want to repair. Select with the arrow keys the installation that needs to get fixed and choose “press “R” to start the repair”
  • After a while, the installation will require you to type the  product serial key composed by 5 groups of letters and numbers. You will find it on a stick that is usually attached at the bottom of your notebook or somewhere on top of your pc case.
  • Wait until it finishes the required repairs and then reboot.
  • Remember to reactivate your  xp copy or  you’ll be unable to use it after a while.


If you had the restore system configuration option enabled, your own pc should have made some restore points when the computer was downloading new updates..

Obviously you can’t use those restore points simply because you can’t get to the operative system.

You can’t even get to the basic dos prompt at the F8 menu because as soonest the pc starts to boot up  you get this :  “the following file is corrupted or missing: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG”

Your registry is damaged ….that’s a bad news.

You can do still much about, but this time  you will have to do little more than just typing!

1)You must buy one of those USB Adapters to use your hard disk as it was an external one (it usually comes with an external AC adapter).

Plug the disk using the USB cable to another pc and boot normally with Xp or Vista.

You’ll see  that the operative system assigns a drive letter to our disk like for example D: or E

(be aware that the operative system might try to boot from our attached hard disk preventing the good disk from starting. If this thing happens, check the “boot priority settings” on bios options and select the good hard disk as first booting device)

— example: if your troubled hard disk is Maxtor or Hitachi, you put the other hard disk( whatever the name is)  as first booting device.

Once the operative system has assigned a drive letter the hard disk is accessible therefore do the following:

  • Open an explorer window as you do when you search for your favourite pics or mp3.
  • You have some options on the top…open TOOLS— FOLDER OPTIONS— view
  • Remove the flag on “ do not visualize hidden folders and files”
  • Remove the flag on “Hide protected system files”
  • Press Okay

You can now see also the hidden system files inside your trubled hard disk.

Before we go to modify  the registry hive files, we need to make sure that we have some copies of them created and stored into the “restore point” folders I was talking about before.

( set administrative ntfs permissions to your account for this “sys volume” folder or access will be denied)

Browse through the following folders:

  • system volume informations –> restore{306DE927- ecc..ecc..–> RPn –> snapshot (RPn folders are the restore point folders and they’re named progressively like RP1,RP2, RP3)
  • Inside the RP folders you have the folder SNAPSHOT. You’ll find the following files: Registry_user_Default,  Registry_Machine_system, registry_machine_software registry_machine_sam, registry_machine_security.
  • Check on the file creation date in the property tab of one of those files,  if the files have been created like two weeks(or more)  before your crash date  they can be used.

(Take all the indicated files from THE SAME FOLDER!!)

  • Create a copy of eachone, rename them as default, system, security, software and sam. Create a TEMP folder and put the renamed files into it
  • Go on :  WINDOWS–>system32—-> config (here are the current and corrupted  registry files)
  • Rename the files software, sam, security, software  and default  into samOLD, securityOLD, softwareOLD  ecc ecc…
  • Copy the  RENAMED  good files from the TEMP folder into the CONFIG FOLDER.

You have replaced all the current registry files with older ones that are not corrupted, you basically have performed a  sort of manual restore.

Reinsert the hard disk into your computer and try to boot.  If the registry was your problem, you should be able to boot safely.

Alternatively, you could avoid to extract your disk from the case by using “live_cds”  like Bart-pe, Erd commander or knoppix linux.  These cds can start a sort of virtual operating system that would allow you to access  the disk and work with it directly from the troubled pc.


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