When you try to start or restart your Windows XP-based computer, you may receive one of the following error messages:
Windows XP could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM
Windows XP could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SOFTWARE
Stop: c0000218 {Registry File Failure} The registry cannot load the hive (file): \SystemRoot\System32\Config\SOFTWARE or its log or alternate
System error: Lsass.exe
When trying to update a password the return status indicates that the value provided as the current password is not correct.

Recover a corrupted registry that prevents Windows XP from starting

The procedure that this article describes uses Recovery Console and System Restore. This article also lists all the required steps in specific order to make sure that the process is fully completed. When you finish this procedure, the system returns to a state very close to the state before the problem occurred. If you have ever run NTBackup and completed a system state backup, you do not have to follow the procedures in parts two and three. You can go to part four.

Part one

In part one, you start the Recovery Console, create a temporary folder, back up the existing registry files to a new location, delete the registry files at their existing location, and then copy the registry files from the repair folder to the System32\Config folder. When you have finished this procedure, a registry is created that you can use to start Windows XP. This registry was created and saved during the initial setup of Windows XP. Therefore any changes and settings that occurred after the Setup program was finished are lost.

To complete part one, follow these steps:
  1. Insert the Windows XP startup disk into the floppy disk drive, or insert the Windows XP CD-ROM into the CD-ROM drive, and then restart the computer.
    Click to select any options that are required to start the computer from the CD-ROM drive if you are prompted to do so.
  2. When the "Welcome to Setup" screen appears, press R to start the Recovery Console.
  3. If you have a dual-boot or multiple-boot computer, select the installation that you want to access from the Recovery Console.
  4. When you are prompted to do so, type the Administrator password. If the administrator password is blank, just press ENTER.
  5. At the Recovery Console command prompt, type the following lines, pressing ENTER after you type each line:
    md tmp
    copy c:\windows\system32\config\system c:\windows\tmp\system.bak
    copy c:\windows\system32\config\software c:\windows\tmp\software.bak
    copy c:\windows\system32\config\sam c:\windows\tmp\sam.bak
    copy c:\windows\system32\config\security c:\windows\tmp\security.bak
    copy c:\windows\system32\config\default c:\windows\tmp\default.bak

    delete c:\windows\system32\config\system
    delete c:\windows\system32\config\software
    delete c:\windows\system32\config\sam
    delete c:\windows\system32\config\security
    delete c:\windows\system32\config\default

    copy c:\windows\repair\system c:\windows\system32\config\system
    copy c:\windows\repair\software c:\windows\system32\config\software
    copy c:\windows\repair\sam c:\windows\system32\config\sam
    copy c:\windows\repair\security c:\windows\system32\config\security
    copy c:\windows\repair\default c:\windows\system32\config\default

  6. Type exit to quit Recovery Console. Your computer will restart.
Note This procedure assumes that Windows XP is installed to the C:\Windows folder. Make sure to change C:\Windows to the appropriate windows_folder if it is a different location.

If you have access to another computer, to save time, you can copy the text in step five, and then create a text file called "Regcopy1.txt" (for example). To use this file, run the following command when you start in Recovery Console:
batch regcopy1.txt
With the batch command in Recovery Console, you can process all the commands in a text file sequentially. When you use the batch command, you do not have to manually type as many commands.

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