help with reinstallation disk

February 4, 2011 at 12:14:19
Specs: Windows XP
Using Dell Dimension 8300 with Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition. At start-up I get error message:

"Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \windows\system32\config\system" and "You can attempt to repair this file by starting Windows Setup using the original Setup CD-ROM"

I inserted reinstallation CD and get the same message. Also set config sequence to
2) Hard Drive
3) Diskette

but still get same error. Any help? I can't get to the prompt to run the installation CD.


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February 4, 2011 at 13:18:55
The order should be diskette, CD-ROM, HDD. And you MUST "Press any key" when you see the onscreen prompt or the system will bypass the CD & move on to the HDD. That prompt may be hidden by the Dell screen.

Tell us, once you boot off the CD, what do you plan on doing?

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February 4, 2011 at 14:00:52
"Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \windows\system32\config\system"

There are two ways to fix that -
both ways will not delete the personal data you have added to the partition Windows was installed on.

The better way by far is to run a Repair installation of XP, but for that, you MUST use an OEM XP CD of the same version as is installed on the hard drive - Home or Pro - that CD can be used with the Product Key that's on the official Microsoft label that's on the outside of the computer case. You must enter a Product Key that Setup will accept as valid when you run the Repair installation procedure.
The OEM CD must be either
- the Dell XP Re-installation CD that came withe the 8300 when it was new.
(You probably will not be allowed to use a CD that came with a different brand name system computer model - it will probably refuse to run.)
- or - a regular OEM Microsoft CD - of the same version as is installed on the hard drive - Home or Pro .
A regular OEM Microsoft CD has "For distribution with a new PC only." printed on it's surface and has the Microsoft holograms on it.

If you do not have an appropriate CD, you could probably do the other procedure with any XP CD, you don't need to enter a Product key to do that, however, you will probably have to reload a lot more stuff afterwards.

For more info....

See response 3 in this (emachines system):

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February 5, 2011 at 15:28:05
Thanks for the replies,

I've backed up my files onto another computer and flash drive, and I've got the "Reinstallation CD Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition" but it won't boot up; that's the problem. How can I get the CD to run?

I've changed the boot sequence to diskette, CD, HD and still not booting up. I can hear the whirl of the CD but I just get returned to the system32 error.


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February 5, 2011 at 15:29:59
Thanks for the reply,

I do have the reinstallation CD, but it's not booting up. That's the problem; how can I get it to boot up?

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February 5, 2011 at 21:19:06
"I've got the "Reinstallation CD Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition""

Is it the original one that came with the 8300? If it isn't, it should be bootable, but you probably can't use it for a Repair installation.

"I've changed the boot sequence to diskette, CD, HD and still not booting up."

That's correct, but did you SAVE bios settings after you did that ?

( If you have a floppy drive, make sure there's no disk inserted in it.
This probably doesn't apply, but remove any USB flash drives or USB external drives before you attempt to boot from the CD. )

If yes, do you have more than one CD or DVD drive on the 8300 ?

If yes, try it in the other drive.
Some bioses will only boot a CD or DVD from one of the CD or DVD drives.

If that doesn't apply or if that doesn't help...

Try using a laser lens cleaning CD in the drive. If you don't have one, you should have one. Most places that sell CDs or DVDs have them, and even some "dollar" stores have them for a buck or two.

If that doesn't help..

It is common to un-intentionally damage IDE data cables, especially while removing them - the 80 wire ones are more likely to be damaged. What usually happens is the cable is ripped at either edge and the wires there are either damaged or severed, often right at a connector or under it's cable clamp there, where it's hard to see - if a wire is severed but it's ends are touching, the connection is intermittent, rather than being reliable.
Another common thing is for the data cable to be separated from the connector contacts a bit after you have removed a cable - there should be no gap between the data cable and the connector - if there is press the cable against the connector to eliminate the gap.
80 wire data cables are also easily damaged at either edge if the cable is sharply creased at a fold in the cable.

Try another data cable if in doubt.

80 wire data cables must have the proper end connector connected to the mboard IDE header - usually that's blue, but in any case it's the one farther from the middle connector on a 3 connector data cable.

Check your SATA data cables. The connector on each end should "latch" into the socket on the drive and on the mboard, or on the drive controller card - it should not move when you merely brush your hand against it near the socket - if it does, mere vibration can cause a poor connection of it - use another SATA data cable that does "latch", or tape the connector in place.
(There is a slight projection or bump on one side of the outside of the connector that "latches" it into the socket - it's easily broken off or damaged)

The same thing applies for the SATA power connection.

If that doesn't help, if the disk boots fine on a different computer, if you have only one CD or DVD drive it's probably defective.

You should see a line while booting early in the boot sequence " Press any key to boot from CD" or similar - you must press the stated key while that line is on the screen.

Setup will auto reboot the computer two or three times. DO NOT press the key to boot from the CD after Setup has started.

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