Video Podcast: Recovering Windows from Common Errors that Prevent it From Booting

In this video podcast I will show you a few ways to repair some of the more common errors that cause Windows not to boot. Be sure to view it in high definition so you can see the details.

Show Links:
UBCD4Win.com

Show Transcription:
Hello and welcome to another Technibble video podcast. Im your host Bryce Whitty and today I am going to show you how to fix a handful of commonly occurring problems that cause Windows to not boot.

The first commonly occurring error I am going to cover is:

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

The last part where it says SYSTEM can often be something else like SOFTWARE. Basically, this message tells us that part of the Windows registry is corrupted.

To bring this Windows install from the dead, I am going to use a boot Cd called UBCD4Win which you can download from www.UBCD4Win.com. Its a boot CD that gives you a Windows like desktop loaded with various computer repair tools.

Once you have downloaded the ISO from ubcd4win.com, burn it to a CD and boot the computer from it. It takes a little while to completely load but once its finished you’ll see something like this. There are two ways to fix this corrupted registry problem so I am going to start with the easiest one first.

Before I begin, we need to make sure that the hard drive itself is able to be read. UBCD has a handy interface that puts the information right on the desktop. In this case, it can read C: and tell me the available space so thats a good sign. If it couldnt it would say something like c:\ Unrecongnizable and that would indicate theres a larger problem.

Anyway, back to fixing this registry. To begin I am going to goto Start > Programs > Registry Tools > Registry Restore Wizard.

This Registry Restore wizard is very similar to the restore points you see inside Windows. The first step I need to do is specify which Windows installation I would like to fix, sometimes it has a Windows install in the list, sometimes it doesnt depending on the damage. In this case I only have the custom option and that is to edit c:\Windows so Im going to click next.

This is not a valid windows directory, continue anyway? Yes, it thinks its not valid because the registry is damaged.

What do I want to do? I only have one option and that is fix the registry to that of a previous state so I am going to click Next.

Now I have a few options of which date I would like to roll the registry back to. I generally try and roll it back to the date closest to now. The reason why is because if there were any changes to the registry made after the one you select, those changes will be lost. By choosing the most recent one this minimises the loss. Once I have selected one Im going to press Next.

Are you sure you want to restore the current registry? Yes. I need to wait a few seconds and then press Finish.

I found this process fixes the error mentioned before abut 90% of the time. If the most recent registry version also has this problem, try the second most recent as well.

There is another way to do this and it can be done using any boot CD that has the ability to edit the systems files such as the Windows XP CD’s Recovery console. Since I have UBCD open I am going to do it in here by loading up Command Prompt and navigating to:

c:\Windows\System32\config

In here we can see some of the main parts that make up the Windows registry. In our case, SYSTEM was corrupt so we need to replace it. Rename “system” to “system-old” by typing “ren system system-old”.

Now, we need to replace it with a working copy and luckily Windows makes a backup copy right after you first install it. Navigate to c:\Windows\Repair, list the directory and we’ll see some of the same files. These are the backup copies and we’re going to move them into the working directory that we were in before. So I am going to type “copy system c:\windows\system32\config\system” and press Enter.

This way is less desirable than the Registry Restore Wizard I mentioned earlier because it restores that part of the registry back to when Windows was first installed. Since we restored the system file, any drivers for hardware you added after this point may need to be installed again.

To finish, reboot the computer without the boot CD and if you did it right Windows should now boot. You can apply this process to the other registry files as well such as software, system and security.

Other errors that prevent Windows from booting that I frequently come across often are random Blue Screens of Death messages. While many BSOD messages can be explained with a little help from Google such as IRQ_LESS_OR_NOT_EQUAL often being a RAM issue and UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME being a hard drive issue, some of them just arent that helpful. Its often some weird stop code that few people have had before. If I come across this there is a command that fixes many of these weird ones 90% of the time by scanning and fixing the errors. Its called checkdisk.

The command is: chkdsk c: (which is the drive letter) /x (which dismounts the drive) /f (which tells it to fix the errors) /r (which tells it to locate bad sectors and recover any readable information) and press enter.

This process can take around 10 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the drive.

Thats it for this podcast. These steps should help you get out of some of the more common unbootable Windows problems. Thank you for watching.



Bryce Whitty

About the Author

Bryce Whitty
More articles by me...
Bryce is an Australian computer technician and the founder of Technibble. He started his computer repair business when he was 17 years old and is still running it 9 years later. He is an avid traveller and spends at least a month of the year in another country.

Comments (13)

  • JohnG says:

    Very nice Bryce…and in HD no less!

  • Anteus says:

    Very nice site and good tut, but why no pause button on the podcast?

    Maybe you should show how to test the RAM too now, not all so many know how.

  • Stefan says:

    Anteus –

    Try clicking the center of the screen while the video is playing :)

    -Stefan

  • joe3k says:

    Yet another fantastic podcast Bryce. Once again hats off to you and keep up the excellent work.

  • JerZa says:

    Thanks for this Bryce. Great quality feed!

  • purple_minion says:

    Good day mate! Sorry I couldn’t resist, I’m sure we all have accents since we all live in different places! I hear us Minnesotians have long vowels, but not like in the movie Fargo. Boooooooooot CD. :D Still very nice.

  • ifelloutofatree says:

    Bryce, nice podcast – Iknow they are probably time consuming to create but they are much appreciated and I would love to see more – Leisa

  • kallam says:

    Great post, really help me alot. Thanks

  • Boris Said says:

    Sorry to ask this silly question… but I can’t seem to find a sound button on the video player? I had to reduce my own sound on my windows xp, hehe.

  • Fritz says:

    i can’t download the podcasts. Do i need a special software for that ?

  • Curtis says:

    Great podcast. I’m just starting out in the field. Your podcasts are very helpful. Thanks Bryce!

  • Ras says:

    Great stuff! Keep them coming!

  • jolin says:

    i think if you want to be a computer expert,you must clean up the computer first,and here i recommend a software for you:tuneup360,it really can help you to deal the computer problem.