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Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt

What causes the error that Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt? How to fix the Windows\System32\Config\System is missing or corrupt? This post from MiniTool will show you the solutions.

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What Is the Error Windows Could Not Start Because the Following File Is Missing or Corrupt?

Computer may come across the boot failure due to all kinds of reasons, such as the error code 0xc0000001, the boot selection failed because the required device is inaccessible, Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt, and so on.

When you encounter the error that Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt, you may receive the following message:

Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:

\Windows\System32\config\SYSTEM

You can attempt to repair this file by starting Windows Setup using the original Setup CD-ROM.

Select ‘r’ at the first screen to start repair.

the error message

Besides the Windows system32 config system missing or corrupt, you may also receive other error messages that are related to this error.

  • The dll is missing or corrupt.
  • The registry cannot load the hive file: \SystemRoot\System32\Config\SOFTWARE or its log or alternate.
  • Stop error code 0xc000000f.
  • System error: When trying to update a password the return status indicates that the value provided as the current password is not correct.

The error that Windows\system32\config\system file is missing or corrupt may be caused by the virus attack, power outages, mistakenly configured registry files, etc.

So, in the following part, we will show you how to fix the error that Windows failed to load because the system registry file is missing or corrupt. But before proceeding to the solutions, you had better rescue data from the unbootable computer due to the system registry file missing or corrupt.

Hence, in this section, we will walk you through how to retrieve data from the unbootable computer due to the issue that Windows\system32\config\system file is missing or corrupt.

How to Retrieve Data from the Unbootable Computer?

It is often for you to encounter the error that Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt on Windows 7/8/10 and XP. So, all operations will be made on Windows 7 and the measures can be used on other Windows versions.

To retrieve data from the unbootable computer, MiniTool ShadowMaker is strongly recommended.

MiniTool ShadowMaker is a piece of professional backup software. It is designed to back up the operating system, files, folders, disks and partitions. It also enables you to sync files to other locations with the Sync feature. In addition, MiniTool ShadowMaker is a clone tool, which enables you to clone OS from HDD to SSD without data loss.

With so many features, download MiniTool ShadowMaker to have a try and we will show you how to retrieve data from the unbootable computer or you can choose to purchase an advanced edition.

Free Download

Since your computer is unbootable due to the error Windows system32 config system missing or corrupt. You need the help of bootable media to boot computer and retrieve data. MiniTool ShadowMaker enables you to do that.

Now, here is the tutorial.

1. Install MiniTool ShadowMaker on a normal computer.

2. Launch it and click Keep Trial to enter its main interface.

3. Go to Tools page and click Media Builder feature to create the bootable media.

click Media Builder feature

4. After the bootable media is created, connect it to the unbootable computer encountering the error that Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt no CD.

5. Enter the BIOS and change the boot order.

change boot order

6. Then you will enter the MiniTool Recovery Environment, go to the Backup page. Click Source module and choose Folders and Files. Then select the files you want to retrieve to continue.

choose Folders and Files

7. Click Destination module to choose a target disk to save the backup files. It is recommended to save the backup files to an external hard drive.

8 After selecting the files and folders, you can click Back up Now to perform the backup task immediately.

click Back up Now

When the process is finished, you have retrieved data from the unbootable computer because the Windows\system32\config\system file is missing or corrupt.

Now, it is time to fix the error that Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt.

How to Fix Windows\system32\config\system File Is Missing or Corrupt?

In this section, we will show you how to fix the problem that Windows failed to load because the system registry file is missing or corrupt. If you have the same problem, try these solutions.

1. Run Startup Repair

In order to solve the error that Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt, you can try running Startup Repair.

  1. As your computer is unbootable, the installation disc is required. If you already have, ignore this step. If you don’t have one, click here to download the Windows 7 installation disk.
  2. Connect it to the unbootable computer and boot from it.
  3. Select the language, time and keyboard input.
  4. Then choose Repair your computer to continue.
  5. In the pop-up window, choose Startup Repair to continue.
  6. Then you can follow the wizard to continue. It will begin to diagnostic your computer. If there are some problems with your computer, it will repair them.

choose startup repair

When it is finished, reboot your computer and check whether the error that Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt is solved.

If this solution does not take effect, try other solutions.

2. Scan Hard Drive Errors

If there are some problems such as bad sectors on hard drive, you may also encounter the error that Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt. So, in order to fix the Windows\system32\config\system file download error, you can check the hard drive.

Now, here is the tutorial.

  1. Boot your computer from the Windows installation disc.
  2. Click Repair your computer.
  3. In the pop-up window, click Command Prompt to continue.
  4. Then type the command chkdsk c: /r and hit Enter to continue.

type the command

Then the chkdsk utilities will begin to scan your hard drive. When the scanning process is finished, reboot your computer and check whether the problem that Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt is solved.

If this solution does not take effect, try the following solutions.

Related article: Top 4 Free Hard Drive Test Tools Every Windows User Must Know 

3. Run SFC Tool

If there are corrupt system files on your computer, you may also come across the error that Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt. In this situation, you can run the Windows built-in tools – System File Checker to scan and repair the corrupt system files on your computer.

Now, here is the tutorial.

  1. Boot the computer from the Windows installation disc.
  2. Click Repair your computer.
  3. In the pop-up window, click Command Prompt.
  4. In the pop-up window, type the command sfc /scannow and hit Enter to continue.
  5. Then the System File Checker will begin to scan the corrupt system files on your computer. Please do not close the command line window until you see the message verification 100% complete.

When the scanning process is finished, reboot your computer and check whether the error that Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt is solved.

4. Restore the Registry Manually

The problem that Windows failed to load because the system registry file is missing or corrupt can be fixed by replacing it with a clean copy that was created on the hard drive when Windows was installed.

Note: This operation will restore the system to a state that might be different from its current state.

Before proceeding on, you had better back up the current registry files so that they could be restored if anything goes wrong.

Now, here is the tutorial.

1. Open Command Prompt as the way listed above.

2. Type the following commands and hit Enter after each command.

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

Note: Replacing the C with Windows’s drive letter.

3. After that, you can delete the current registry files.

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

4. Then you can repair the registry hives from the repair folder.

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

After that, exit the command line window and reboot your computer to check whether the error that Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt is solved.

If the above solutions are not effective, you can try the last solution.

5. Perform a Clean Reinstallation

If none of the above solutions takes effect, you can choose to reinstall the operating system. But before reinstalling, the first thing you need to do is to export your data. You can choose to back up data from the unbootable computer or you can choose to recover data when PC won’t boot.

After retrieving data from the unbootable computer due to the error that Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt, you can start to reinstall the operating system.

Now, here is the tutorial.

  1. Boot the computer from the Windows installation disk.
  2. Select language, time and keyboard input.
  3. On the next page, click Install Now.
  4. Then check option I accept the license terms and click Next.
  5. Next, choose which type of installation you want. It is recommended to choose Custom (advanced).
  6. Next, select the drive to install Windows and click Next.

Then you can follow the wizard to complete Windows installation. When the process is finished, the computer can boot normally and you also have fixed the problem that Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt.

After fixing the problem that Windows failed to load because the system registry file is missing or corrupt, it is recommended to create a system image. In this way, it can effectively safeguard your computer and files. In addition, you can directly restore your computer to a normal state when encountering some problems or coming across the issue that Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt again.

To create a system image, MiniTool ShadowMaker is able to do that. And you can read the post: How to Back up Windows to Safeguard Your Computer? Try MiniTool! to know more detailed operation instructions.

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Bottom Line

To sum up, this post has introduced what is the error that Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt. This post also has shown 5 ways to fix the error that Windows\system32\config\system is missing or corrupt.

If you have any better solution to solve the error that Windows failed to load because the system registry file is missing or corrupt, you can share it in the comment zone.

If you have any problem with MiniTool ShadowMaker, please feel free to contact us via the email [email protected] and we will reply to you as soon as possible.

Windows Could Not Start Because the Following File Is Missing or Corrupt FAQ

How do I fix Windows 10 registry file is missing or corrupt?
  1. Use a recovery drive.
  2. Use bootable system installation drive.
  3. Use bootable CD/DVD or USB drive.
  4. Reboot PC to the Last Known Good Configuration.
  5. Use Bootrec.exe to fix boot sequence.
  6. Run SFC and DISM to repair system file corruption.
  7. Perform a clean install.

You can read the post How To Fix The System Registry File Is Missing Or Corrupt Error to know more detailed operation.

How do I fix Windows failed to load because a critical system driver is missing or corrupt?
  1. Run Startup Repair.
  2. Scan hard drive errors.
  3. Run SFC tool.
  4. Restore the registry manually.
  5. Perform a clean installation.
What causes registry corruption?

There are three common reasons that corrupt the Windows registry.

  1. Freeware.
  2. Tampering of the Windows Registry.
  3. User’s incorrect installation of programs.
How do I restore my registry?
  1. Open Registry Editor window.
  2. At File, click Import.
  3. Then browse and selected backup registry files you want to restore.
  4. Click Open.
  5. Once the process is finished, restart your computer and log back in the operating system.

You can read the post How to Backup and Restore Registry in Windows 10 (2020) to know more detailed operation instructions.

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