Protect Yourself From the Windows/System32/Config error Message

Published on 07-03-2007  | 

This is a tutorial that will explain what the "Windows/System32/Config/System file missing or corrupt" error message is, and provide you a solution to restore the damaged System file. This tutorial will also show you how to backup and/or restore your windows/system32/config files to protect your computer against the dreaded windows/System32/config system missing error message.

First it is important to understand what is contained in the config folder and whet the "system" file in Windows XP does for your computer. Windows XP introduced software that allowed your Microsoft operating system to keep backups of critical Windows files. This has saved computer users countless hours of downtime and money. However, there are some core files contained within the Windows XP operating system that are not backed up automatically. These files are contained in the windows/system32/config folder on your hard drive.

NOTE: If your computer is suffering from the "Windows/System32/Config/System file missing or corrupt" problem, use the links below to attempt recovery now. If your computer is working properly at the moment, PLEASE follow the links to page 2 of the tutorial to learn how you can back up your system files so you can recover from this problem should it afflict your computer in the future. As of now, we do not know why this problem is afflicting Windows XP users, and we do not know how to prevent it from striking your PC. The best thing you can do with a healthy computer is to backup your Windows/System32/Config files now in case you experience this error. The back up is free, and it will not harm your PC in any way.

Recently there have been many computer users in our Service Centers complaining that their computer will not boot because the "system" file is missing. The "system" file is one of many that is stored in your windows/system32/config folder and it tells Windows XP how to start your computer and who to log in at startup. If this file is missing, your computer will not boot and you will see an error on a black screen stating: "Windows/System32/Config/System file missing or corrupt."

There are two scenarios where this can happen. In the first scenario, the system file is simply corrupt or missing and needs to be replaced with Windows XP's backup copy. Follow the links below for instructions on replacing the corrupt windows/system32/config/system file with the backup file stored by Windows XP.

The first step in recovering from this problem is to boot into the Recovery Console and replace the missing or damaged system file with a backup copy. To do this, you will need an original Windows XP CD, or a recovery CD from your computer's manufacturer, or a set of 6 Windows XP boot disks. If you do not have any of these, please visit our tutorial on creating Windows XP boot disks at

Once you have booted from your Windows XP CD or floppy disks, press the letter "R" at the first screen asking you for input. The computer will now ask you "Which Windows installation would you like to log onto." Each profile is represented with a number. Press the number associated with your profile (usually the number 1) and press enter. Now you will be prompted to 'Type in the Administrator Password." Enter your password and press enter (if you do not have a password to log into Windows, simply press enter).

NOTE: If you are not prompted to enter a number for your Windows profile, type the following command: "cd windows". If the computer tells you "access denied" scenario one does not apply to you, and you need to progress to page three of this tutorial for further information and instructions.

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

You should now see a message stating that the file was copied successfully. Reboot your computer and all should be well. If you do not get this message, or you can not navigate to the windows/system32/config folder in steps 1 through 2, proceed to the third page of this tutorial.

If you were not able to log into your Windows profile in the recovery console, or if you were not able to navigate to the windows/system32/config directory, this likely means that the directory is gone. We have seen multiple reports of this occurring, and there is no discernible pattern that would indicate what is causing this problem at this time. This directory contains information required by Windows to boot, as well as information about your installed programs and saved passwords. If you currently are receiving the error "Windows/System32/Config/System file missing or corrupt," there is nothing you can do to remedy this problem.

If you have important data on your hard drive, your information is still there and intact. We would strongly suggest that you seek the advice and experience of a local computer repair shop to copy this data to CD or DVD for you before you reinstall Windows. Reinstalling Windows will result in the loss of any data that exists on your drive.

NOTE: If your computer is currently working fine, we have created a utility that will backup your Windows/System32/Config/System data so that if you are ever impacted by the "Windows/System32/Config/System file missing or corrupt" error, you can easily recover your data. Follow the link below to page 4 to download and use this free utility.

The following backup utility only works on computers that are currently functioning properly and are not suffering from the "Windows/System32/Config/System file missing or corrupt" error. If you run this utility on a computer that is functioning properly, you can use the recovery method below to restore its config files should it ever suffer from the "Windows/System32/Config/System file missing or corrupt" error.

We have created a DOS batch file that will copy your Windows/System32/Config/System files to a backup directory so that in the event your computer crashes with the "Windows/System32/Config/System file missing or corrupt" error you will be able to recover from it quickly.

NOTE: As you run the batch file, Microsoft Antispyware, Windows Defender, and other applications may ask you if it is ok to run the batch file. Please click allow or run or ok to any prompts that appear.

Follow the directions below to backup your files, and the save this page to your favorites in case you ever need the instructions on restoring your backup files.

  1. Download the backuptool batch file here
  2. Click "Open." It should open a new window containing a file called runtool.bat
  3. Double click on the runtool.bat file and click on the "Extract All" button
  4. The Windows XP file extraction wizard will open. Follow the prompts by clicking next, and then finish
  5. A new windows will open. Double click on the runtool.bat file in the new window and click on Run.
  6. A black box will appear. Press any key to continue.
  7. The software will now copy files. Ignore any "Sharing Violation" errors
  8. Press any key to continue
  9. The software will now backup the files that were passed over due to sharing violations
  10. Press any key to exit the program

Follow these directions to restore your backed up config data in the event of a crash:

  1. Remove your hard drive from your computer and hook it up as a slave in another computer
  2. Boot the second PC, open My Computer, and double click on the malfunctioning hard drive's icon
  3. Double click on the "Windows" folder
  4. Double click on the "ERDNT" folder
  5. Single left click on the "hive" folder and click on Edit and invert selection
  6. Click on Edit and Copy
  7. Navigate back to the Windows folder on the damaged drive
  8. Double click on the System32 folder
  9. Create a new directory called Config
  10. Open the config directory and click paste
  11. Navigate back to the ERDNT directory on the damaged drive
  12. Double click on the "hives folder" and click Edit and then Select All
  13. Click on Edit and then Copy
  14. Navigate to the config folder you created on the damaged drive
  15. Paste the hive files into the config folder.
  16. Remove the damaged hard drive, replace it in its original computer and it should function perfectly!
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