Solved Can't do ANYTHING on my Compac nc8430

September 6, 2011 at 03:14:56
Specs: Windows XP
Upon starting, I get Error message: Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
\Windows\System32\Config\System

It goes on to say I can attempt to repair this file by starting Windows Setup using the original Setup CD-Rom.

I do not have original setup disc and don't know how to get them (scoured HP looking for them to no avail). Any ideas.


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#1
September 6, 2011 at 10:23:33
The error means the Windows Registry is corrupt, but the fix that Microsoft provides can't be used on an OEM pre-installed copy of Windows.

Best to run the factory default recovery in your case.


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#2
September 6, 2011 at 12:24:56
✔ Best Answer
"The error means the Windows Registry is corrupt,..."

That's correct


"...but the fix that Microsoft provides can't be used on an OEM pre-installed copy of Windows."

I know from experience that's NOT correct, if you mean this procedure.....

How to recover from a corrupted registry that prevents Windows XP from starting
http://support.microsoft.com/defaul...

That procedure DOES work with a brand name system software installation, but ONLY if you replace ALL the files mentioned with their backups - it WON"T work if you ONLY replace the corrupted SYSTEM file.


"Best to run the factory default recovery in your case. "

scriddle CAN do that to fix the problem, but that's NOT the best choice, especially if scriddle doesn't boot the computer with something such as a Linux CD and copy the personal data he or she doesn't want to lose to elsewhere before he or she does that.

Most Compaq computers that orginally had XP on them that I've come across came with an XP Re-installation CD or similar, and DO NOT have a Recovery partition on the hard drive.
READ the Owner's or User's manual for your model - that will probably tell you how to run a Recovery procedure and wll mention whether you need a CD that came with the computer, or that you have a Recovery partition on your hard drive.
If you don't have a Recovery partition on the hard drive, then you can't do the Recovery procedure without having a suitable XP Re-installation CD or a regular XP Windows CD or a set of Recovery CDs for your model..
......

How to recover from a corrupted registry that prevents Windows XP from starting
http://support.microsoft.com/defaul...

That will work, if you replace ALL the files mentioned with their backups.

You need either a Windows XP CD, or another CD such as a Linux CD that the computer can be booted from that can read the files on the partition Windows was installed on, to be able to do what the article tells you to do.

That will get Windows working fine again, however you will need to have to re-install MANY things - personal settings, drivers, and programs.
...........

You are usually MUCH better off doing a Repair installation of Windows procedure, rather than that procedure.
A Repair installation of Windows procedure will fix the corrupted Registry problem, and all the personal data and program installations will still be intact on the partition Windows was installed on . You will probably have to re-install some things after it is finished, but far fewer of them than if you did the Microsoft procedure to fix the corrupted Registry.

How to do an XP Repair installation of Windows procedure, step by step:
http://www.windowsreinstall.com/win...

You need a suitable XP CD, and a suitable Product Key for it.

Suitable CD
Most Compaq and HP computers that originally had XP on them that I've come across came with an XP Re-installation CD or similar.
That CD can be used the same way as a regular Microsoft OEM XP CD with your Compaq model. You use the (OEM) Product Key that's on the official Microsoft label that's on the outside of your computer case with it.

You usually CANNOT use an XP Re-installation CD or similar that came with a different brand name system model with any computer except the model it came with, or a small group of models made by the same brand at the same time. It will refuse to install Windows from scratch, or run a Repair installation of Windows procedure.

A regular Microsoft OEM XP CD has the Microsoft holograms on it and "For distribution with a new PC only." printed on it .
That CD can be used with your computer and with the Product Key on the official Microsoft label, if the label and the CD are for the same version of XP - Home, Pro, or Pro 64 bit.

(if you can't read the Product Key on the official Microsoft label, the Product Key the Windows installation was using can be found by connecting the hard drive to another working computer and by using certain software.)
.....

If you have any hard drive larger than 137gb manufacturer's size, the XP CD must have SP1 or later Windows updates integrated into it.
....

The XP CD has no built in support for SATA drive controllers, so it can't detect SATA drives, if the computer's bios Setup has the SATA controllers set to use SATA or AHCI mode.

If you get a message that says no hard drive is found after the initial files load from the XP CD and you choose to run Setup.......
the easiest way to fix that problem is,
you can change the setting for the SATA controllers in the bios Setup to an IDE compatible mode of some sort, Save bios settings,
and then the initial files loaded from XP CD WILL then be able to detect SATA drives, as IDE compatible drives.
We can't tell you what the specific setting is, but whatever it is, it is presently set to SATA or AHCI mode, that mode can be changed, and at least one other choice is an IDE compatible mode of some sort.


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#3
September 6, 2011 at 22:05:28
Thanks for the help. I'm still trying to figure out if I can restore without the use of discs. When I hit f-10 upon powering up, I get the Setup page. All I've read about talks about a "restore" option here. I'm not seeing it. I have "file", "security" "diagnostics" and "System Configuration." The only thing resembling any type of restore is under Security and it's labeled "Disk Sanitizer." Is that the same as restoring?

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#4
September 7, 2011 at 07:45:35
You DO NOT do a Restore or Recovery procedure unless you have no other choice !
It's MUCH MORE work getting your system back to the way it was before when you do that than it is when you do either of the methods I described !

You DO NOT necessarily need a Windows CD if you use this method:

"How to recover from a corrupted registry that prevents Windows XP from starting
http://support.microsoft.com/defaul...

My notes - Copy, Paste, Print this in Wordpad for the best result.
or - CAN PRINT THIS ARTICLE from online at the above link

That will work, if you replace ALL the files mentioned with their backups.

You need either a Windows XP CD, or another CD such as a Linux CD that the computer can be booted from that can read the files on the partition Windows was installed on, to be able to do what the article tells you to do.

E.g. the download to make such a Linux CD is free - all you need is access to another computer and one burnable blank CD !

That will get Windows working fine again, however you will need to have to re-install MANY things - personal settings, drivers, and programs.
...........


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#5
September 7, 2011 at 14:24:07
I got an XP CD and on the first run, it began loading a couple files then a message said a USB hub was corrupt (?). On second run it again ran through some file loading then a message said "the file partmgr.sys is corrupted" then "Setup has failed."
The third attempt got me to Welcome to Setup screen. I pressed "R" and got this:
"Setup did not find any hard disk drives installed on your computer. Make sure that any disk-related hardware configuration is correct. This may involve running a manufacturer-supplied diagnostic or setup program. Setup cannot continue..."

This is in conflict with the HDD self-test I ran from the BIOS screen, both of which came back after a couple of hours of testing as passing! I checked the hard drive to make sure it was securely in place and got the setup failure message again.

I'm truly at a loss here. I'd rather not reinstall so that I don't lose everything, but I feel like that might be my only hope!?


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#6
September 7, 2011 at 14:33:26
I may be going out on a limb here by guessing my hard drive has bit the big one. I will have it diagnosed and get a replacement and a friend has a transfer method. Let's hope that works. Thanks for your help regardless. Mighty nice of you in this world of everybody always chasing the quick buck.

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#7
September 8, 2011 at 08:28:44
I will reply to your response 5 and 6 in more detail in a few hours.

Your problems with errors when using the XP CD and it not finding your hard drive don't necessarily indicate the hard drive is defective.


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#8
September 8, 2011 at 11:45:33
"Setup did not find any hard disk drives installed on your computer"

See the last part of response 2.

If your computer has a SATA hard drive, and if the bios has the SATA controllers set to SATA or AHCI mode, it's NORMAL for the XP CD to NOT detect SATA drives by default. Changing the bios setting I described gets rid of that problem !

(The SATA controller drivers for your specific mboard are already in your present brand name supplied Windows installation but they're not on the Windows CD. When you're installing Windows from scratch, you can load the SATA controller drivers when you load the drivers needed for the motherboard after Setup has finished, then you can change the setting in the bios back to SATA or AHCI mode to get the full burst data transfer speed your SATA drive is capable of.)

That applies whether you choose to press R at the first screen after the initial files have been loaded, or you choose to continue on to Setup at that screen.
.......

"I got an XP CD and on the first run, it began loading a couple files then a message said a USB hub was corrupt (?)"

- unplug all USB devices connected externally to the computer that are not necessary for using the XP CD. If you have an external USB mouse or USB keyboard you need to use, plug it / them into USB ports that are physically built into the mboard.

You need to boot the computer FROM THE XP CD.
If you did not boot the computer FROM THE XP CD, you may get error messages when you load the XP CD that apply ONLY to the present problem Windows installation.

- When the XP CD has been inserted into a drive, when you boot the computer AFTER that, you should see a line while booting "Press any key to boot from CD" or similar - you press the stated key while that line is on the screen to boot from the XP CD.

If you DO NOT see "Press any key to boot from CD" or similar ......
You must have your bios Setup Boot Order or similar settings set so that CD-rom or similar is listed BEFORE hard drive or similar, Save bios settings.
OR - for some brand name system computers, you see a line while booting "Press (a key) for Boot Device" or similar - if you see that, you can press the stated key and choose to boot the computer from CD-rom or similar.

If you choose to do a Repair installation of Windows procedure (RECOMMENDED if you have a suitable XP CD - see response 2) , or install Windows from scratch (NOT RECOMMENDED IN THIS CASE) , once Setup has started you DO NOT need to press that key after that - Setup will Restart the computer several times and load the XP CD automatically.
......

If you DID boot the computer FROM THE XP CD....

".....a message said "the file partmgr.sys is corrupted"

You should get NO ERROR MESSAGES AT ALL about files on the XP CD being corrupted or missing !!.

If you DO get error messages about that....

- VERY UNLIKELY, unless you were having other problems before the subject of this Topic that you haven't mentioned. - your hard drive is failing.


Test your hard drive with hard drive manufacturer's diagnostics.

NOTE that your ram must be experiencing NO ram errors at all for the testing of the hard drive to be valid. See below.
Also your hard drive must be connected properly such the the mboard's bios and Windows and the XP CD or whatever operating system disk can detect but, but that's probably OK in your case.

E.g.
Seagate's SeaTools will test (almost) any brand of hard drive.
http://www.seagate.com/ww/v/index.j...

Do the long test.

The Dos bootable versions of SeaTools can test the hard drive when Windows will not load properly, or even when the drive has no data on it.

It the drive itself passes the test, any data problems on the drive can be fixed one way or another.

The XP CD and it's Setup is very sensitive to problems reading the CD...
- there may be a problem with the optical drive reading the CD properly.
- the CD must be clean and free of major scratches
- the laser lens may be "dirty" - use a laser lens cleaning CD in the drive you are reading the XP CD in, or if this is a laptop or notebook, eject the tray, and with no disk on it, clean the obvious laser lens with a tissue or a soft cloth. If this is a desktop computer, if you don't have a laser lens cleaning CD, get one - they're available at most places that sell CDs or DVDs, and even some "dollar" stores have them for a buck or two. .

Is the CD you're using a copy of an XP CD ?
If yes, it may NOT read properly in an optical (CD or DVD) drive it was not made in unless it's a CD-R or a DVD-R disk (if the drive can read DVDs) .


- The XP CD and it's Setup is very sensitive to even tiny amounts of errors reading the ram.

If your computer has 4gb or less ram installed....

If you want to try a memory diagnostic utility that takes a lot less time to run a full pass than memtest86 does, this one is pretty good - Microsoft's
Windows Memory Diagnostic:
http://oca.microsoft.com/en/windiag...
It can be toggled (press T) to do a standard or a more comprehensive set of tests - use the default 6 test one first - if it passes one pass of that, use the latter one. A few of the tests in the latter set are intentionally slower.
If you don't have a floppy drive, see the Quick Start Information at that Microsoft link for how to make a bootable CD of the Windows Memory Diagnostic (you need Windiag.iso - you don't necessarily need to use the program they mention to add it to the CD).

If your computer has more than 4gb of ram installed.

Use memtest86, or memtest86+ (different author) to test your ram.

If the memory tests find ram errors,
See response 2 in this - try cleaning the contacts on the ram modules, and making sure the modules are properly seated:
http://www.computing.net/hardware/w...

For a laptop, you must remove both its main battery and AC adapter before you do that.

See the User's or Owner's manual for your model if you need more info about how to properly remove and install the ram.

Then run the memory tests again.
..................

"I got an XP CD "

Tell us about that CD.

Is it the one that may have come with the computer - that would be a HP or Compaq branded "XP Re-installation CD" or similar.

As I said in response 2....

"You usually CANNOT use an XP Re-installation CD or similar that came with a different brand name system model with any computer except the model it came with, or a small group of models made by the same brand at the same time. It will refuse to install Windows from scratch, or run a Repair installation of Windows procedure."

If yes, are the Windows SPx updates included printed on the label ?

Is it a regular Microsoft OEM XP CD with the Microsoft holograms on it and "For distribution with a new PC only." printed on it ?

Is it a regular Microsoft retail full version CD or a retail upgrade CD ?
That would have the Microsoft holograms on it, but it will NOT have " For distribution with a new PC only." printed on it.
It MIGHT have "Not for Resale" in the outer part of the holograms.

If it's a Microsoft CD, are the Windows SPx updates included printed on the CD ?

Is it a copy of an XP CD ?
If yes, it may NOT read properly in an optical (CD or DVD) drive it was not made in unless it's a CD-R or a DVD-R disk (if the drive can read DVDs) .
.........

You can do the Microsoft procedure in the first first part of response 2 with any XP CD, or any other CD that you can boot the computer with that has an operating system on it that can read the files on the hard drive.

If the XP CD is one of the suitable XP CDs I mentioned in the part after that about doing
a Repair installation of Windows procedure, then you are much better off doing the
Repair installation of Windows procedure !
See response 2 !


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#9
September 8, 2011 at 13:56:56
"If you get a message that says no hard drive is found after the initial files load from the XP CD and you choose to run Setup....... "

Growing up, I always heard the advice, "Listen carefully" (in this case, read carefully), but always wanted to jump ahead. Thank you for referring me back to response #2 and to this. If I would have read it --carefully-- the first time I wouldn't have nearly given up. Thank God I didn't because I'm watching XP being "repaired" on my laptop right now! So far so good. I'll reply later if it doesn't work or if I've lost everything!

Thanks so much~


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#10
September 8, 2011 at 17:41:53
AAaaarrrgggghhh. So frustrating. So everything is loading off the XP CD and Windows has about 33 minutes left of installation when I notice the screen hadn't changed in quite... IT was frozen! This was right after the "Language" dialogue box came up and I hit "enter". It stayed on the next screen (with no working movement) for at least 30 minutes. All I could do at that point was force a power down.

When I returned to start the repair over this evening, the laptop won't even get to the BIOS screen. The power light and the volume mute light are the only ones that come on. I can load the CD, it starts, and the CD light comes on but nothing happens.

I tried disconnecting power+battery and removing the hard drive to see if BIOS would come up. Nothing. Even a ctrl+alt+del won't shut it down. It has to be forced off.

So then I searched MS Support site and found a dialogue about hangs during repair at the same point (33/34 minutes). I adjusted the RAM and tried to restart and up it came!

So now I'm starting the repair over again and right now it is at the infamous 34 minutes to go mark. So far so good. We'll see. At least I know what to do next if it locks up again.

(now at 13 minutes to go): Other than a few screen flickers, I think I'm IN!


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#11
September 8, 2011 at 18:50:17
"So everything is loading off the XP CD and Windows has about 33 minutes left of installation when I notice the screen hadn't changed in quite... IT was frozen! This was right after the "Language" dialogue box came up and I hit "enter". It stayed on the next screen (with no working movement) for at least 30 minutes."

Did you have ANYTHING plugged into the laptop externally that was NOT necessary for using the XP CD ?

The second stage of XP's s Setup, after Setup gets to the end of the first stage and Restarts the computer automatically and auto loads the XP CD again, is when Setup detects hardware devices. If Setup has problems properly detecting a hardware device, you get a LONG delay with 3x minutes remaining - various things can happen after that - a common one is the computer black screens, restarts, and the second stage of Setup starts over again, gets to the same stall point with 3x minutes remaining, restarts, in and endless loop

"All I could do at that point was force a power down. "

"When I returned to start the repair over this evening,..."

If you DID have something plugged in externally that is not necessary to use the XP CD, if you unplug it / them at this point, you DO NOT need to start over from the beginning. When you boot the computer the second stage of Setup should automatically start if the XP CD is still inserted when you boot.

".....the laptop won't even get to the BIOS screen. The power light and the volume mute light are the only ones that come on. I can load the CD, it starts, and the CD light comes on but nothing happens

Did you have the AC adapter plugged in while you were booting ?

If NO, the battery may have been discharged enough that the laptop won't fully boot until the battery has been charged to at least a minimal level, unless you have the AC adapter plugged in when you boot the computer.

If you DID have the AC adapter plugged in the whole time, you may have a problem with the AC adapter or it's cord or plug that plugs into the laptop jack or with the jack on the laptop.

Laptop no video (or video problems), and battery, AC adapter, power jack T shooting.

See response 1:
http://www.computing.net/answers/ha...

"I tried disconnecting power+battery and removing the hard drive to see if BIOS would come up. Nothing. Even a ctrl+alt+del won't shut it down. It has to be forced off.'

The proper way to shut it off when that happens is to hold the power button down until it shuts off.

If you disconnect both the AC adapter and the battery, or course the laptop will NOT start up.
If it does start up partially with the AC adapter plugged in there's probably something wrong with it's connection to the laptop.

If it does nothing or very little when just the battery is plugged, it's discharged too much for whatever reason.

You should get normal video BEFORE the CD attempts to load in any case.

It could be you also have a problem with your built in display.

Laptop no video (or video problems), and battery, AC adapter, power jack T shooting.

See response 1:
http://www.computing.net/answers/ha...

Some laptops will display on an external monitor without you having to do anything. Other laptops require that you press a key combo to toggle the display to external display / built in display - see the Owner's or user's manual for your specific model.

If there is nothing wrong with your AC adapter or it's connection and the jack in the laptop.......


Laptop main batteries usually work as they should for a year or so, then they begin to rapidly deteriorate. From what I've seen, by two years they cannot be charged to anywhere near their full capacity, and it gets worse after that.
They often develop internal shorts when they are older. If the battery gets HOT rather than just warm after you have attempted to charge it for at least a half hour, or after you have been using the laptop for a while with the AC adapter plugged in, it's definitely internally shorted and you must replace it. Internally shorted batteries getting too hot have been known to cause the laptop to catch on fire.


Tips about battery charging problems on Dell laptops - may apply to other makes.
See response 3 in this by iTech:
http://www.computing.net/answers/ha...
.............

Has this laptop been dropped, or has it had liquid spilled on it ?

Did you test the ram and the hard drive BEFORE you started the Repair installation of Windows procedure ?

You personal data you don't want to lose that's on the hard drive can be copied to elsewhere if you can get the laptop to boot from something such as a Linux CD, even if Windows is now trashed

The hard drive can be tested by connecting it to a different computer and running diagnostics on it, but a defective hard drive would not cause the problems you're presently having, and you haven't mentioned anything that definitely indicates it's defective.

Pressing Ctrl-Alt-Del, or pressing the Reset button on a desktop computer, triggers a software response from either the bios or the operating system. If the operating system or the computer is not working properly it won't work.

The proper way to shut it off when that happens is to hold the power button down until it shuts off.

.
.


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