Scott Hanselman

Mo's Computer says System32/Config/Software is either missing, corrupt or has an error.

May 24, '06 Comments [4] Posted in Musings
Sponsored By

ScreenshotThumbnail-ERDCommander2005"A Repair Install is not foolproof and should not be considered the cure-all fix for non-boot situations." says an XP Repair FAQ. This is true.

If you've got a spot on your carpet, should you rip up the floor and lay new carpet?

I updated the wife's computer's network drivers yesterday and got this lovely error on reboot:

Blah blah Systemroot/system32/config/Software is either missing, corrupt or has an error.

You'd think they'd know if it were missing or not. ;) I thought seriously about doing reinstall/repair install, but then thought there might be a simpler, less drastic solution.

I held down F8 and tried "Last Known Good Configuration" and that didn't work. I also couldn't get into the system via Safe Mode, but I could get into the Recovery Console. The Last Known Good and Safe Mode not working (via my gut) told me that there was probably a disk corruption error around the area of the registry file, rather than a corrupt hive.

From within the console I changed directories down to system32/config and saw that SOFTWARE (the Registry Hive) was in fact there, and was of a reasonable size for this simple machine (about 26 megs). I ran chkdsk /p (it's /p, not /f, inside the Recovery Console) and it found and fixed errors. Rebooted and was were back in business.

(Had this not worked, the next step would have been a purchase of ERD Commander)

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

facebook twitter subscribe
About   Newsletter
Sponsored By
Hosting By
Dedicated Windows Server Hosting by SherWeb
Wednesday, 24 May 2006 09:36:43 UTC
I had similar problem few times on my old Dell laptop due to disk corruption (and I hated it for this). But I found this procedure helpful: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;q307545

In short, first you need to restore registry to state when Windows was installed so it can at least boot in safe mode. Then you can manually restore last good configuration from the last restore point.
Wednesday, 24 May 2006 23:45:42 UTC
I gave up on this sort of rare fix long ago in favour of disk imaging.

I'd rather spend 20 minutes reimaging because there is no uncertainty of the result, expecially because my images are known good states with all customisations in place.

Of course, other people's PCs do not have that in place, but I always feel that people tend to think 'I fixed the problem and it's all OK now' when it was never really possible to know the full extent of the potential problem in the first place or what harm it did that you have not noticed yet.
Thursday, 25 May 2006 15:45:47 UTC
Scott, I completely agree with what you did. However, when someone i know gets that problem, and i can't get to their location, i usually tell them to do the repair for 2 reasons. 1) it does fix the problem about 80% of the time, and if it doesn't, at least i don't waste my time trying that. 2) it's simple for the person to do, even if they know nothing about computers, and when it works, everyone is happy. they even know what to do the next time.

by the way, when that happens to me, and depending on how old the drive is, i always use that as an excuse to upgrade to a bigger drive. :D
Thursday, 25 May 2006 17:36:49 UTC
Had exactly this same problem on my Dad's computer not long ago. Only figured out the actual problem _after_ I did a clean install. (hey, I'm a software guy) Fortunately I had set Dad up with a separate data drive and had remapped his My Documents so it was just installing the O/S and programs.

Needless to say, Dad now has an Acronis True Image backup of the system drive on his data drive and an Acronis boot disk in hand. Next time it happens, I can get him back up from here. Of course, that eliminates the opportunity to enjoy some of Mom's cooking. ;)
Comments are closed.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.