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post #1 of 14 Old 01-01-2006, 5:30 PM Thread Starter
 
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Desktop Won't Load

I'm coming to the list since you guys are the gurus. I didn't know what to search on to find info in the archives, so if it is covered there, please point me in the right direction.

My computer (Sony PCV-RS720G, running Windows-XP Home) won't start. Says I have a corrupt or missing system configuration file and that I need to "repair this file by starting Windows Setup using the original Setup CD-ROM)". Unfortunately, all of that is built into this computer (no disks when I bought it), and running the Sony recovery program (F10 on start up) only gives the option of starting over and losing everything.

Starting in Safe Mode got me a little more information, but still wouldn't load. Apparently it can't find the files:
windows\system 32\config\system ... and ... \system.alt

This occurred after running CHKDSK \r while trying to troubleshoot a CD/DVD drive that was not responding.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I'd search more, but only have 26k dial-up on my wife's laptop. Thanks.
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post #2 of 14 Old 01-01-2006, 7:23 PM
 
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Re: Desktop Won't Load

Did you try the "Last known good configuration" option? The SYSTEM file is part of the registry. Your computer definitely won't load without that. There may be a backup we can rename/restore worst case (or maybe it's best case at this point).
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post #3 of 14 Old 01-03-2006, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Desktop Won't Load

Quote:
Originally Posted by southpark460
Did you try the "Last known good configuration" option? The SYSTEM file is part of the registry. Your computer definitely won't load without that. There may be a backup we can rename/restore worst case (or maybe it's best case at this point).
Yes, tried that, and there is no known last good configuration. When I try to start in safe mode, I get 2 lines of messages ending in "\system" and "\system.alt" before it crashes, so I'm assuming these are either bad or were never saved. I don't know if I can start it with a command line, don't know enough to try that without guidance.

At this point I'm assuming I may have to move the hard drive to another computer to get my information off (like all of the vacation pictures since the last save of my data on CD) and then do a restore which will wipe the drive clean.

Thanks for any help.
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post #4 of 14 Old 01-03-2006, 6:26 PM
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Re: Desktop Won't Load

gt702,
This won't fix your XP problem, but may help you get your vital files off. Download a bootable Linux cd, and boot the Sony with it. Depending on your Linux skills, you can try:

Rescue Is Possible
http://www.tux.org/pub/people/kent-r...looplinux/rip/

or for a more familiar look Knoppix
http://www.knoppix.net

If you have a network at home, boot up with the cd, and connect to your network. You can "map" a drive over to another machine with this command:

cd /mnt
mkdir sharedmachine
mount -t smbfs //othermachine/share /mnt/sharedmachine -o username=userid

It will pop up and ask for the password, which should coincide with the userid you map the drive with normally. From there, you can copy all the important files off to the /mnt/sharedmachine folder which will be the shared drive on the other machine.

It doesn't sound like it, but it's fairly easier (to me) than swapping the drive out to another machine.
Fig
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post #5 of 14 Old 01-03-2006, 6:40 PM
 
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Re: Desktop Won't Load

Knoppix is how navydevildoc saved the data on my computer after a corrupt video driver made windows commit suicide. Had to reload everything, not a pleasant experience with the engineering software that had to be reloaded.

Total PITA, but better than losing everything, which I would've without knoppix.

After that hell, I have a Maxtor Firewire external HDD that creates a new back-up image of my storage array every night.



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post #6 of 14 Old 01-04-2006, 11:11 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Desktop Won't Load

Thanks for the input, this should help.

If I can get a bootable disk from another Sony running WindowsXP (I just discovered a coworker bought one over the holidays), could I use this to get the machine running ... and would it kind of fix itself (the eternal optimist am I ), or would I still need some software to repair or extract things? I'm hoping a clean boot would restore the right files and let the system continue, but don't know.

Thanks again, you guys are great.
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post #7 of 14 Old 01-04-2006, 1:28 PM
 
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Re: Desktop Won't Load

Quote:
Originally Posted by gt702
Thanks for the input, this should help.

If I can get a bootable disk from another Sony running WindowsXP (I just discovered a coworker bought one over the holidays), could I use this to get the machine running ... and would it kind of fix itself (the eternal optimist am I ), or would I still need some software to repair or extract things? I'm hoping a clean boot would restore the right files and let the system continue, but don't know.

Thanks again, you guys are great.
It is very rare that OEM boot disks are anything more than the "recovery" images that you already have on the machine. Since most users don't know how to fix things like this, it is easier for the 800 support line to just have you wipe everything out and start from a known good image.
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post #8 of 14 Old 01-04-2006, 1:45 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Desktop Won't Load

Quote:
Originally Posted by navydevildoc
It is very rare that OEM boot disks are anything more than the "recovery" images that you already have on the machine. Since most users don't know how to fix things like this, it is easier for the 800 support line to just have you wipe everything out and start from a known good image.
I'm trying to avoid wiping everything out, which is why I stopped here first. I can get to the recovery portion that will wipe it clean and start over, so it is there as a last resort.

If I boot from a bootable disk (made from a similar computer), would that get me started so that I can reload the pieces I need to make the computer work? Or should I avoid trying that and just take it to an expert to fix for me? Thanks.
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post #9 of 14 Old 01-04-2006, 1:54 PM
 
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Re: Desktop Won't Load

Do you have another PC? If so, you can pull the hard drive out and add it as a 2nd drive on the other PC to get your important data off. Then, put it back and do clean install.
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post #10 of 14 Old 01-04-2006, 1:57 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Desktop Won't Load

Quote:
Originally Posted by ConqSoft
Do you have another PC? If so, you can pull the hard drive out and add it as a 2nd drive on the other PC to get your important data off. Then, put it back and do clean install.
Nothing new enough, or large enough, to be of value (very old Win95 machine). Getting a second hard drive to do back-ups was on my list of things to do after the holidays ... missed it by a week. If that is the only, or the recommended solution, then I can get a friend to help me. I hate to lose all of the set-up and other programs currently loaded (I have a lazy streak ).
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post #11 of 14 Old 01-04-2006, 2:01 PM
 
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Re: Desktop Won't Load

We only have laptops now, but I bought an external drive enclosure for this very reason. If one of the laptops dies, I pull the hard drive out, put it in the enclosure, connect it to another PC, get my data backed up, and wipe it clean before sending it off for repair. (Of course, that only works if the hard drive isn't the part that died.)

Yeah, you would lose all your setups and would have to reinstall your apps though.
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post #12 of 14 Old 01-04-2006, 2:28 PM
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Re: Desktop Won't Load

I found this site, which has links to some goot articles:
http://labmice.techtarget.com/troubleshooting/ERD.htm

How to replace a corrupted driver:

http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=313670


Using System.alt to Recover the System Hive
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: 151247 - If your system fails to boot because the System hive is corrupt, it may be possible to rename the System.alt file to System to recover Windows NT. This file is located in the Systemroot\System32\Config directory. It is recommend to first try to use the Emergency Repair Disk (ERD) to recover the System hive. Information on using the ERD can be found on page 49 in the Installation Guide. Renaming the System.alt file should only be used as a last resort after you have tried to recover the system using the ERD. If the Windows NT system files are located on a Windows NT File System (NTFS) partition you will need to boot into another installation of Windows NT to rename the file. If the Windows NT files are located on a FAT partition you can boot from a bootable MS-DOS diskette to rename the file.


Unfortunately the link on the last one doesn't work, but the text they give is pretty informative. Can you get a Linux boot disk, and boot the machine to see if you have a SYSTEM or SYSTEM.ALT file on the disk? You might also try running a linux program called dosfsck. It's chkdsk for DOS filesystems.

Try booting with a WinNT install disk and perform a recovery, then go to console mode. From the console, run chkdsk. I know that I have to go to console mode in win2k with one particular desktop I have as some critical Microsoft updates cause more pain than they fix..
Fig
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post #13 of 14 Old 01-04-2006, 3:09 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Desktop Won't Load

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fig
Unfortunately the link on the last one doesn't work, but the text they give is pretty informative. Can you get a Linux boot disk, and boot the machine to see if you have a SYSTEM or SYSTEM.ALT file on the disk? You might also try running a linux program called dosfsck. It's chkdsk for DOS filesystems.
I have Windows XP-home on the computer, and the problems began after running chkdsk. When booting in safe mode, I get a can't find error for both system and system.alt, and then it won't go any further.

I'll check out the links at home, maybe stopping to get a HD enclosure on the way. Thanks.
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post #14 of 14 Old 01-04-2006, 3:47 PM
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Re: Desktop Won't Load

gt702, again I will refer to linux tools, but that's because it's what I would use to troubleshoot this. I would make a disk image of your drive before you start doing anything. i realize you are making a disk image of a bad instance, but if there is a way to restore this and you clobber it, you can start back from fresh. You can use a tool called Partimage on most linux bootdisks to "ghost" a copy to your new removable drive. It will store the image in a set of files that you can name.

I would also copy off your important files and docs, just in case, but making an image is just in case you want to go the route of trying to recover.

If you went the route of moving this disk to another machine, I would get one of the many Undelete tools to see if it can find the missing SYSTEM and SYSTEM.ALT files. Those are hive files which are critical to the Windows os. I have used Active-Undelete and it worked on my NT Server in my trailer to recover what turned out to be the only existing copy of some pictures we had taken, and people had ordered. Long story short, the cost of buying the program was miniscule compared to the cost of explaining the images were lost..

You have a lot of options and I think taking an image of the drive first will make sure that you can try out more than one just in case.
Fig


P.S. on the RIP linux cd, there is a tool - NTFSUndelete... It might be worth a try as well. I probably should have used that on my images, but I was literally having a stroke and a heart attack all at the same time knowing that I may have blown away all known copies of those photos..
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