1. cd system32
2. cd config
3. ren system system.old
4. cd .. (note the space after cd it is important)
5. cd .. (note the space after cd it is important)
6. cd repair
7. copy system c:\windows\system32\config.................. This copy command is not working!!!!

Reading thru this thread it becomes obvious that no-one seems to do a system state backup. Ever. Not bragging here, just a bit of guidance:
I have a partition which is my Data Store; one folder in it is labelled System State Backup. What is in it? Well, you start Microsoft's Backup [in Pro it is there already, in Home you must load it especially from your installation CD] and it is found under Pgms > Accessories> System Tools.
I put a check against System State, browse to my SS Backup folder [the tool fights a bit, for some reason it wants to put nearly 400Mb onto a floppy set, but that's M$ for you...], and back it up. Takes less than 2mins, including verification. A comfy security blanket. It also updates the files in Windows\repair to your currrent state [default, SAM, SECURITY, software, system...].
Somewhere in this forum I have laid out this procedure of replacing those files in your system32\config folder, plus then using the files in your last successful sysem restore point to get back right to that last good configuration before your troubles began.
Note also that those five files are rewritten in system32\config every time you shutdown your sys [or should be], but NOT in Windows\repair. It does not matter that the ones in \repair are slightly out of date because in the end you would copy them from your latest good system restore point.

hey gerbil,
thx for ur reply but my problem is I am not able to copy the files in repair folder to the config folder thru' recovery console. It always says "the files could not be copied"..... what shud' I do? And what causes this problem that simple files are not being allowed to be copied from one folder to another?

Ignoring all the cd commands, pretty much you say this command does not work?:
copy c:\windows\repair\system c:\windows\system32\config\system
-and the system file exists in \repair? If it does, oh dear, it should copy, it should not have any attributes set to prevent that.; if it does not exist, oh dear. You could then try copying all the others and then attempting a restart of Windows...
The only difference between your method and the one I follow is that I copy out the 5 \config folder files to a tmp folder, delete them in \config and then use that command above, or a form of it...
-in effect, no difference. So I don't know, sorry.
I guess you could try [in RC]:
attrib -s -r -h c:\windows\repair\system
and so on for any other files...

Gerbil hit the nail on the head with his point about backups - I got so fed up with wasting time trying to recover, then giving up and reinstalling system and programs, that I re-partitioned my (80Gb) hard drive into 3 - system, data, and archive.

All my documents, letters, website designs, pictures emails and favourites backup etc go in the data disk, and I use norton ghost to back up the system and data at least weekly or after any significant change. I usually keep the last 3 or 4 backups, then ditch the oldest

It takes 5 to 10 mins to restore my XPpro, but I use erunt to back up the registry (to the archive partition) so if I get funnies after installing something new I can restore the registry in less than a minute. I recently upgraded my system and the faster disk access and processor have halved those times

When you next have to reinstall, this is the way to go. Best of all is to put your backups onto a separate physical disk, in case the HDD goes down.

Hello, I too have this problem. I tried the steps from the Miclonestuff, I mean Microsoft,support link but I cannot, or it will not let me, get past the first line- copy c:\windows\system32\config\system c:\windows\tmp\system.bak, I get a message saying it cannot be copied, does this mean a reformat and total re-installation, or have I missed something.
Missing system file error message-CHECK
XP CD(for recovery console)-CHECK
Support page link(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/307545/en-us)-CHECK
Brain-Ummm-So So

The Toshiba disks are used to recover your pc incase of emegerncies(i'm not really sure) but if you put them in, u might lose all your data

The instructions provided here worked for me, simpler than the MS solution:


In case the link doesn't work here are the abreviated instructions once you are in recovery console:

After you enter your password (or simply press enter) you should be at a prompt that reads "C:/windows". Type the commands below to navigate to your Windows/System32/Config directory and replace the appropriate file:

  1. cd system32
  2. cd config
  3. ren system system.old
  4. cd .. (note the space after cd it is important)
  5. cd .. (note the space after cd it is important)
  6. cd repair
  7. copy system c:\windows\system32\config

Alright well I did this, it said file copied, and when I restarted my computer I know at least start to get the Windows startup screen with the little banner, then it restarts!! Any insight into how to remedy this?? Also how do you do step 3?? I was not able to get that part, for some reason or another I am thinking that is the reason it won't fully work!!

I work at a computer repair shop and i've seen this error message numerous times, and I'm tried of having to copy data, wipe windows and reinstall, even though the time of having to do that, is less than trying to fix it.

So now I'm stuck with the problem again but to my prevail I actually fixed it took me some long hours here after work, but I found it kinda interesting and seemed to have learned a little more.

But I did run into a problem, after having fixed the config folder, I cannot log into the user accounts, as if replacing one of the five files in the config folder made it as if their is only one account windows has to log into. But when I go to c:/documents and settings/ all the user accounts are there along, with the data. But the main problem is the programs will not open up, coming with an error message saying this "Program was not installed for this user account" or "This program was not installed."

My Question does anyone know which file in the config folder holds the information for the user accounts and I'll just replace that one with the older one saved. I know the "SAM" file holds passwords and what not, now does it also hold the user account login information?


I would try copying and replacing more than just the system file and replacing it into the Config folder.

In Example.

cd system32
cd config
ren system system.old
ren SAM SAM.old
ren default default.old
ren software software.old
ren security security.old

cd .. (note the space after cd it is important)
cd .. (note the space after cd it is important)
cd repair
copy system c:\windows\system32\config
copy SAM c:\windows\system32\config
copy default c:\windows\system32\config
copy software c:\windows\system32\config
copy security c:\windows\system32\config

Now I did this and I can now boot into windows just cannot open programs because it some how removed the other user accounts I could log into but I can still find the data from the other user accounts in documents and settings.

But BEFORE you do any of that I would simply try a chkdsk /f in the dos console, which I tried 3 times along with a sfc /scannow. Also if this does not work I'd try http://nordicgroup.us/xprecovery/recoveryxp.pdf I believe going through that would be your best bet, but the only problem for me was that I had no restore points on the pc I was working on, so I cannot copy and replace the system files. Also if you cannot get into safe mode or you do not have another pc to connect your hard drive too, than you won't be able to copy and replace the system restore /config files with the new ones.

i have the same problem but after i try to repair it my keyboard and mouse wont work can you please help me?

i have the same problem but after i try to repair it my keyboard and mouse wont work can you please help me?

Is your keyboard USB or PS/2 most of the time you can use dos with USB keyboard you may have to switch to the standard Round PS/2 keyboard.

If it is USB try unplugging and replugging the keyboard back.

is a laptop

i have the same erro and i already try the repair part but the error still pop it up can you guys help me i have a laptop dell latitude d610

this has happend to me before, and i think this is how i fixed it...

when its booting up keep pressing f8 to get to the boot up selection menu. select safe mode and see if it boots up, then try opening restore and go back a week or so.. maybe it will replace the system file...

last easy solution would be to stick that hard drive into another computer as a slave drive and get all your information off it before you format and install...

you might have to reset folder permission settings if you get "not accessable" error when opening your "my documents" folder...

great job it worked for me u the man thanks

i got problematic for the my system it show in hard disc error and occured
prees ctrl+alt+delin restart many time i type the but not restart

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