This is my problem that I'm having.. I ran this software called easycleaner and I was deleting duplicate files.. not knowing that this one was very a important one..anyway now I'm getting this on my kids computer screen

Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
<Windows root>\system32\hal.dll.
Please re-install a copy of the above file.

ok I would normaly just pop in the reformat disk..but Bestbuy lost it when I had to take their computer in, in Nov of last year to get a new motherboard fixed, and now they never gave it back to me and it has been of course to long and it's probably thrown without a reformat disk..I really am lost.

I have tryed doing microsofts SP1 ( don't have SP2 yet on their puter) Windows XP Home Edition with Service Pack 1 Utility: Setup Disks for Floppy Boot Install.. and no luck I tryed using the recovery console but I can't get no where with that because I run c:\windows>bootcfg /rebuild, add, list, scan, etc... and all I get is an error saying there isn't a boot.ini in my windows try runing chkdsk..tryed that won't let me run that because I it says there is no AUTOCHK.EXE in that drive or in no CD rom.. so I'm at my wits..been at this since 2:00pm my time and it's 10:41pm now..please if anyone can help that would be sorry so long.

Laura :confused:

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Try starting the computer in Safe Mode, then use System Restore to a point before the problems began:

Start or restart the computer.
As soon as the BIOS has finished loading, begin tapping the F8 key on your keyboard; continue to do so until the Windows Advanced Options menu appears (if you begin tapping the F8 key too soon, some computers display a "keyboard error" message, if you get this message, restart the computer and try again).
Using the arrow keys on the keyboard, scroll to and select the Safe Mode menu item, and then press Enter.

To use System Restore, right click My Computer, go to Properties, go to System Restore, and then to the Restore tab (I believe these are the correct steps, I'm not on an XP computer now to try it).
Search for a Restore Point prior to the date which you began having trouble (if System Restore hasn't been activated, there may not be any restore points available).

Let us know if this works or not.

Another thing you might try: Search your hard drive(s) for a copy of that missing file. You did say you were deleting DUPLICATES, I would assume somewhere on your hard drive there is still one copy of that file. Move that file into your windows/system32 folder, and see if that fixes it.

Well those both sound real good but I can't load windows up at all right after the splash screen I get a black screen with the message. So this is why I'm stuck.


If you're hitting F8 repeatedly while booting as DLH6213 suggested, you shouldn't get a splash screen, instead you should get a list of options, including one to allow you to boot into safe mode.

Just tryed to do that and no luck I can't do anything when it comes to loading Windows it's like the file is gone..


It's pointless to hit f8. Your HAL is a hardware list showing what your computer is compatable with. You need to get your hands on a copy of XP one way or the other. All you would have to do from there is boot from the cd, go to the recovery console option, get to your DOS prompt from it, and the copy the file from your cd to where it should be - i think it's in your system32 folder. Evaluation copy of xp would work too, but you need that cd to boot from for sure.

He's right, hal.dll is a critical dll, required by Windows XP to talk to your computer's hardware via the 'Hardware Abstraction Layer'. Unfortunately for you, you do not have a Windows XP disk available to you.

After more research, I've found that you are really in a pickle, two things can cause the error your having: Deletion of the file, which seems to be your situation. The second thing that could cause this is corruption of your boot.ini file. Either way, you need to get that machine booted to find out which of these is your problem.

Hopefully, the URL to Microsoft's page I sent you earlier while we conversed in a private message to get the Windows XP boot disk can get you moving towards solving this problem.

ok I would normaly just pop in the reformat disk..but Bestbuy lost it when I had to take their computer in, in Nov of last year to get a new motherboard fixed, and now they never gave it back to me and it has been of course to long and it's probably thrown without a reformat disk..I really am lost.

Laura :confused:

Laura, what you need to do is an In Place Upgrade, instructions are at this link:;en-us;315341&Product=winxp

But you need to have the CD. Since BestBuy lost your CD, talk to the manager there and see if they will do this for you -- in my opinion it's the least they could do after losing a CD worth a couple of hundred dollars. If they won't do it, I hope you can find a CD somewhere to use. Best of luck to you!

Any XP CD should be ok, if you bought a pre-built PC such as a Toshiba or HP it will usually have a product key/COA on the bottom which would mean you can basically use any XP cd since you have a valid Windows license and it's really the license that matters; not the CD.

I think the hal.dll should get fixed by running the repair option from the XP cd, it's Method 2 on the link that Dl6213 posted. I don't know for sure if the repair option would write a new hal.dll, at the moment I'm too lazy to blow up Windows to find out...I usually wait for my users to do that sort of stuff - maybe one of the smarties in here knows. Either way, if the repair doesn't work then a parallel install is the next best option but all installed programs will be gone, atleast until you can get the previous install of Windows working again.


The section called "Install Windows XP to a new folder" describes steps to perform a parallel install of Windows. This would be particularly good for your problem if the repair doesn't work since when you do the parallel install a new hal.dll would be created and you could copy it to the previous install of Windows and change the boot order back so it boots the old one and you'll get all the programs back.

Good luck!

commented: Good to see someone else pitching in to help. :) +1

Yup, Antioed hit it all, unfortunately after talking with sunflower in private message discovered she has no Windows XP disks at all, she does have a restore disk, but it's for a different brand of machine. (Egad, I hate 'restore disks', it should be required to give an actual copy of WIndows XP, not a restore disk).

I did advise she could simply borrow a disk from a friend. But the best thing she could do would be to make the Windows XP boot disk I sent her to MS's website to download. Then she could merely copy the hal.dll file from her working machine over to a floppy to copy to her sons machine. (Of course, that might not fix it, since it's possible her boot.ini has been corrupted, which could cause the same error...however since she did say she was deleting duplicate files, I assumed that she probably really did lose her hal.dll file).

I'm hoping she got somewhere with all this, but I fear it's all a bit confusing.

Laura, you will definitely need to purchase a new copy of Windows XP. You can't 'borrow' a copy off a friend, as some have suggested here, because the Windows Product Activation anti-piracy measures will kick in after a short period of time, rendering your system inoperable.

If the vendor can't (or won't) replace the CDs for you, then I'm afraid you're in for some expense.

Of course, she said she lost the disk, she may well still have her activation number in her documentation. Hard to tell.

Either way, I told her the same thing, she should buy a real copy of XP, since now her sons machine has nothing.

you get the same msg when there somthing wrong with the boot.ini file as well. when you get the xp cd boot to the recovery console and use this command BootCfg /Rebuild and except the defalts

Laura, you will definitely need to purchase a new copy of Windows XP. You can't 'borrow' a copy off a friend, as some have suggested here, because the Windows Product Activation anti-piracy measures will kick in after a short period of time, rendering your system inoperable.

The "anti-piracy measures" look at the licensing information, not which CD is used. If anything the individual would have to request their license information or purchase a new one...once again this is independent of the install media that is used.

I have several copies of Windows XP here and I can assure you that if you use one CD to install, and try to use the key-code from a different one, then the install will NOT complete because an error is encountered with the installation routine rejecting the CD key-code.

I believe you, sounds like something MS would do with each new pressing of the CD.

However, I can attest to the fact the CD key will work if the two CD's are from the same time period, if you take my meaning. I have two XP cds, one I've tucked away for safekeeping, the other I use for both my XP machines. Bought them both the same day at Staples. I'm guessing that each new successive pressing of the CD has all the most recent updates on them, and that you need to have an activation code from a CD pressed in that 'batch'. But this is a guess, I only know that my one CD will take the code from my other no problem. (Heheh, guess I'm lucky).

Anyway, it's bad news for Sunflower, since it's unlikely she'll be able to use her old activation code for her sons machine with another copy of XP, by the sound of it.

Edit: Hmm, you both got me thinking. I do use one XP cd, but now that I think of it, I seem to recall I did originally INSTALL my other machine with the second CD of XP. I've reinstalled XP on this machine 3 times since then, but the other machine is still running the original install. I do use the CD if I have to grab windows components or what have you, but that's not the same. So...I'm now unsure if the numbers would work. I'll have to try it someday...(though my other XP machine is really just a home server, and never gets any real use, and doesn't NEED a reinstall). Open mouth, insert foot, heheh. Mmmm! Sweatsocks. ^^;

Yep...I'm a bonehead...XP Home probably does care. The 2003 server versions care, Office 2003 definitely cares, XP Pro in a corporate environment doesn't, which is all I do with XP at this point. I forget that they're probably more strict with XP Home since it would be per computer. Either way...if a person had a license or can prove that they bought the machine they shouldn't have to buy Windows again...that would just be wrong. The place who sold it should assist that user with obtaining a proper media and license replacement from Microsoft and I know there's steps you can take for that. Thanks for the correction.

If the original installation of Windows XP is an OEM edition, then the license must be obtained from the system manufacturer, not from Microsoft. Microsoft is only accountable for the licenses which apply to the full retail version.

That's part of the OEM 'deal' I'm afraid, and why the OEM version is less expensive.

This is a bit extreme, but sometimes desperate situations call for desperate measures, and it seems you may fall into that catagory.

Remove the hard drive and set it up in another computer as a slave drive (if you're not sure how to do this, request more detailed instructions).

Now that you have it in another computer, download Restoration from here:
(It will fit on a floppy disk if you wish to run it from there)

Double-click on Restoration.exe and the program will open up. In the Drives box, click the drop-down arrow and select the drive that had the missing .dll (you may need to go to My Computer first to find the correct drive).

In the empty box below that, type in hal.dll and then click Search Deleted Files.

With any luck, it will find the deleted file. If it does, click on it to highlight it, and then click on Restore by Copying.

Navigate to the folder it should go back into. Note: it will not be on the "C" drive since it's in another computer, it will be on whatever drive your slave is showing as, like f:\WINDOWS\system32.

If all this has gone correctly, put the drive back into the original computer and see if it will boot up.

commented: i just dont like you +0

no no no, XP has their recovery files on a different partition most of the time, if you bought it pre-made. It's a hidden partition that your system restore uses. see if there is an option in your startup functions, maybe hit f8 and see if there is a system restore. If not, maybe make a win98 bootdisk you can get at and boot from there. You might need to go look at to see how to restore, but there should be something there if your computer was made by hp or whoever. Umm maybe even see if you can download a hal.dll from a site of some sort, it might work. i'd def look to see if you can do a system restore from dos tho.

XP has their recovery files on a different partition most of the time, if you bought it pre-made.

How can the recovery files be on a different partition if your computer has only one partition (which is how mine was when I first bought it from Dell)?

Also, the Restoration program will find deleted Restore Points, I haven't tried to restore any though so I don't know if it would work.

Sunflower hasn't posted to this thread in awile so the problem may have been sorted out already.

The 'recovery files' don't belong to XP as such, they 'belong' to the System manufacturer.

A number of 'Brand name' manufacturers actually put the installation files in a 'hidden' partition which doesn't appear via Windows. You can follow manufacturer's instructions and retrieve them to restore your system to it's original state, or to reinstall drivers or refresh your OS installation. You'll find this practice followed particularly by those manufacturers who don't provide a "Recovery CD", but you'll also find that even some manufacturers who provide such a CD actually still have the files on a 'hidden partition' and the CD itself includes basically just the routines to run to extract and install them.

im not sure if this hall.dll was ever resolved, but i read online it had to do with a bad boot.ini file....

not sure how correct they are, but worth the read. i didnt take the time to read all the posts cuz their was alot, and they were long. so i dunno if this has laready been mentiond.


Missing Windows hal.dll file.

Additional information:

Additional information about the definition for HAL can be found on our HAL dictionary definition page.


The missing or cannot find hal.dll, \windows\system32\hal.dll, or \winnt\system32\hal.dll error message may be experienced on a Microsoft Windows 2000 or Microsoft Windows XP system when the boot.ini becomes corrupted or when a user is attempting to dual boot a computer.


Verify that the computer boot.ini is present and not corrupted

  1. Verify the boot.ini file is found on the computer by using a boot diskette or use your Windows CD to get to the MS-DOS "C:\>" prompt.
  2. From this prompt edit the boot.ini, verify that it is pointing to the correct operating system, and that no anomalies are found within the file. Additional information about editing the boot.ini as well as additional information about its available options can be found on document CH000492. Below is a listing of what to verify
  • If only one operating system is on the computer verify that the boot.ini only has one operating system listed. In some situations an alternate configuration line may be added for the same operating system, leaving the improper line.
  • Verify that the "default=" line as well as the operating system line are the same and that they are pointing to the correct operating system.

Verify that the computer has the hal.dll file

From the MS-DOS "C:\>" prompt quickly determine if your computer has the "hal.dll" file by typing "dir hal.dll /s" at the prompt. If the computer returns a "File not found" message, the hal.dll has been deleted.

To recover this file boot the Windows operating system CD and choose the option to "restore", "repair", or "recover". This option will prompt you for the Windows installation to use, the administrators password and will allow you to restore the proper file. At the MS-DOS prompt type the following command:

expand x:\i386\hal.dl_ y:\windows\system32\hal.dll

In the above example "x" would be the letter of your CD-ROM drive and "y" the letter of the drive your operating system is installed on. If you need to determine the drive letters of your devices type "map".

Additional information about the expand command can be found on our expand help page.

Reinstall the operating system

If the boot.ini is found on the computer and does not appear to be corrupted and/or if the hal.dll file is missing it is recommended that you reinstall your Windows operating system.

Heh, her post points out she deleted the file with Easyclean. I had already pointed out the possible corrupted boot.ini, but it seemed moot since she knew she deleted it. lol

Quick follow up on the question of using someone else's is perfectly fine to install XP from someone else's just have to use their product key and after the OS is installed go activate the OS using your product key by following the instructions outlined here:;en-us;810892

Just get a new computer, i always like using reasons like this just to go out and get another one :) Hyperthreading anybody? If anything you can call your manufacturer and they will send you out a cd for like 10 or 15 bucks, and you can get it off of there. If it's a dell, tell them they suck, then ask them what you need to do. It's ONE FILE, we are making way too big of deal over it. Get a cd. Boot from it. Go to the recovery console. After you are in DOS, copy the file over to the system 32 folder. Restart. Windows works.
If you are in college you can buy cheap student versions of XP for like 20 bucks.

could you boot from a second hard drive and use easycleaner's undo feature?


I, too, am having the same problem. This morning, I turned on my computer, only to have it stop booting before it got to the Windows logo. It then gave me the message: windows cannot start because the following file is mssing or corrupt <windows root>/system32/hal.dll.

I then did "ctrl+alt+del" to restart and received the message one more time. I restarted again, with everything going normally. I then did a search for the file in question and found that is was where it was supposed to be. Does this mean it is not missing, but corrupt?

I don't know if I turn off my computer tonight, it will do the same thing when I try to restart. Obviously, the file is not missing, because I was able to eventually boot up. What do I do?

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