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Repairing Windows XP using the Recovery Console

March 13th, 2011 No comments


NOTE:This solution is only for solving the errors and issues given below, if the computer is not infected by spyware and viruses. The commands given below may rebuild even some heavily infected computers, but there’s no such guarantee. If you doubt that your computer is infected, remove the spyware and viruses first, before trying this procedure.

Many people turn off their computers at night, all over the world, but some people, after turning them on, the next morning, get an error screen instead of the Starting Windows XP screen. The error can be any one of the following, in addition to others:

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

C:\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.

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

C:\WINDOWS\System32\Ntoskrnl.exe

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

C:\WINDOWS\System32\HAL.dll 

NTLDR is missing.

Press any key to restart

 

Invalid boot.ini.

Press any key to restart

Now, your computer doesn't boot in the normal way, so you try booting it using the safe mode. But, you still get the same error message. If you are somewhat knowledgeable and know about the recovery console, you boot into the recovery console and try the FIXBOOT and FIXMBR commands but these too don't help. You want access to some critical data, but how do you access it when Windows won't boot even using the safe mode?

If you call a computer technician, he would most probably tell you that the only solution to these errors is to backup your data by connecting the hard disk to another computer and then reinstalling Windows from scratch. Then, installing and configuring your software programs and restoring your data back. A very cumbersome process and it can take many weeks or even months to configure all your Windows and software settings, the way they were previously. Apart from the time and trouble this would take, you also have to spend a hefty amount for his work.

So, how do you troubleshoot and repair the above errors yourself? Continue reading below.

First, boot into the Recovery Console, using the Windows XP installation CD, or if you have the Recovery Console installed on your hard disk and available as an option in the Windows boot menu, use that.

Most people would have just one Windows installation. However, if you have more than one, select the one that gives the above errors. Once you are in the Recovery Console, type the commands in sequence, given in step 7.

The BOOTCFG /Rebuild command fixes the following:

  • Windows Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL)
  • Corrupt registry hives (\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\xxxxxx)
  • Invalid BOOT.INI file
  • A corrupt NTOSKRNL.EXE
  • A missing NT Loader (NTLDR)
    The repair process is harmless and may or may not apply to other types of errors and blue screens of death (BSOD), but it’s not guaranteed and xpdrivers won’t be responsible for any harm, it may cause.
  1. After ensuring that the computer BIOS is set to boot from the CD drive first, boot your computer with your Windows XP installation CD in the CD drive. If you don’t know how to set the BIOS to boot the computer from the CD, view this page.

    The following YouTube videos would also be helpful:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKaKj6uRLSM
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLaoajhiN_k
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exU85jk9UyM

  2. After the computer boots and Windows XP Setup starts, do not select the option which says: "Press F2 to initiate the Automated System Recovery (ASR) tool." Let the Setup proceed till you see the following screen. At this screen, press the letter "R" on your keyboard, to start the Recovery Console.

    Recovery_Console_Welcome_to_Setup_Screen

  3. After pressing the letter R, the Windows XP Setup prompts you to select a valid Windows installation (this would mostly be number "1"). Select the installation number ("1" in most cases) and hit the Enter key. If you had set an administrator password during the initial Windows XP installation, type the password and then hit enter.
  4. If you don’t remember the administrator password, or don’t remember if you had set one or not, try pressing the enter key instead of typing any password. This could work in many cases. 

    But, what to do if the recovery console doesn’t accept a blank password and if you don’t remember the one you had set during installation? Click here to know more, how to recover or reset your Windows XP password with some free tools.

    Once, the Setup accepts the password, it greets you with the following screen, which tells you that the recovery console is ready to accept commands:

    Recovery_console_Admin_Login

  5. There are seven commands which you have to type one by one in sequence to repair any of the above mentioned errors. Type one command per line and hit the enter key after typing each. Remember to replace the drive letter (C: in this case), with the appropriate drive letter for your Windows installation. The commands are:
    • CD .. or CD \
    • ATTRIB –RSH C:\boot.ini
    • COPY C:\boot.ini C:\boot.bak
    • DEL C:\boot.ini
    • BOOTCFG /Rebuild
    • CHKDSK /R
    • FIXBOOT
  6. The first command, CD .. (or CD \) brings you out of the Windows directory, into the root directory, C:.

    Recovery_Console_CD..

  7. Once you’re at the C:\> prompt, you can start repairing XP. First of all, you have to change the attributes of the boot.ini file, which is hidden from normal view. BOOT.INI controls what operating systems the Windows boot process can see, how to load them, and where they’re located on your hard disk. Type the below command at the command prompt and press the enter key. to remove the system, hidden and read-only attributes of boot.ini:

    ATTRIB -RSH C:\boot.ini

  8. After removing the attributes with the above command, make a backup of boot.ini, using the ‘copy’ command. Then, delete the original boot.ini, using the ‘del’ command, as shown below.

    Recovery_Console_del_boot.ini

  9. The BOOTCFG / REBUILD is the most important of all the commands. It searches for existing Windows XP installations, rebuilds essential Windows’ components, recompiles the BOOT.INI file and corrects many common Windows’ errors.

    There are two important steps in this command:

    • You must use the /FASTDETECT as an option to the BOOTCFG command, when the command asks for an OS Load Option.
    • If you have a CPU with the Intel’s XD or AMD’s NX buffer overflow protection, you must also use /NOEXECUTE=OPTIN as an OS Load Option, as shown below. Do not put NOEXECUTE as an OS Load Option if your CPU doesn’t have the Intel’s XD or AMD’s NX buffer overflow protection.
    • For the identifier, you can type "Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition", if you have Windows XP Home Edition, for example.Recovery_Console_bootcfg_command
  10. This command checks and fixes any physical errors on the partition containing Windows XP. This is just a simple command, type it at the C:\> prompt:

    CHKDSK /R

    The command can take some time to complete, especially if there are some errors, as it has to check the whole partition. If you don’t learn or understand how to use any other Recovery Console commands, learn this one for sure. In many cases, this single command has fixed computers which wouldn’t boot into Windows. After the command finishes, move on to the last step.

    Recovery_Console_chkdsk_command Recovery_Console_chkdsk_report

  11. This is also a simple command. Just type FIXBOOT at the C:\> prompt. This command writes a new boot sector to the hard drive. Press "Y" when the command asks if you want to write a new boot sector to partition C:, and press the Enter key to confirm.

    Recovery_Console_fixboot_command

  12. The procedure is complete and you can type the command, EXIT, followed by pressing the Enter key, to reboot the computer. If you are lucky, the computer should boot into Windows XP as if nothing had happened. If you were successful in booting into Windows XP, you saved yourself a lot of headache, frustration, data loss and paying big bucks to a computer technician.

Windows XP Crash Recovery – When all else Fails

January 21st, 2011 1 comment

WARNING: Do not use the procedure described in this post, if your computer has an OEM-installed operating system (Dell, HP, Compaq, etc). The system hive on OEM installations creates user accounts and passwords that were not there previously. If you use the procedure described in this post, you may not be able to log back into the recovery console to restore the original registry hives.

NOTE:

  • This post assumes that you have tried other recovery methods and still can’t access the system, except by using Recovery Console. If you haven’t tried other methods of recovery yet, try them first. Click here to know a few other methods of recovery, before you try this method. However if you’ve already tried the other methods, go ahead and try the one mentioned below.
  • Make sure to replace all five registry hives. If you replace only a single hive or two, this can cause problems because software and hardware may have settings in more than one location in the registry.
  • 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 in a different location.

Since your Windows already crashed, you’re probably viewing this post on another computer. It’s better if you take a printout of this post, because you’ll have to type many commands to recover your corrupted Windows XP installation. Even if you don’t have to type them, it’s better to have a printout. If you don’t want to print the images, here’s a text-only version of this post.

It’s possible that somehow your Windows registry is corrupt. But there is a backup of the registry! Since Windows doesn’t start, we’ll have to restore this backed up registry files, manually. How do you do that? Follow the procedure detailed below.

1. Boot the computer with your Windows XP CD in the drive. If you see a message like "Press any key to boot from CD …", go ahead and press a key on your keyboard.

Press_any_key_CD_boot

2. If you don’t see any such message or if your computer doesn’t boot from the CD, go into your BIOS/CMOS setup, by rebooting the computer and pressing the appropriate key (like F1, F2, F10, DEL, etc).

image 

3. If you don’t even see the message to press the above keys to enter the BIOS setup, read your motherboard manual on how to enter the BIOS setup. These videos about BIOS and CMOS may be helpful too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKaKj6uRLSM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLaoajhiN_k

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exU85jk9UyM

4. Now, when booting from the XP CD, when you see the Welcome to Setup screen, press R to start the Recovery Console.

XP_Welcome_to_Setup_Screen

5. You will see the following screen. Type 1 and press the Enter key. You’ll have to enter the Administrator password. If you didn’t set a password, when you installed Windows XP, just press the Enter key.

Recovery_Console_Admin_Login

NOTE: If you have access to another computer, to save time, you can copy the text in step six and seven, and paste it in a text file called "Regcopy1.txt" (for example). You can also download this text file and save it on a USB pen drive, before you run the below command. To use this file, run the following command when you start in Recovery Console:

batch regcopy1.txt

To know, how to access files on other drives when in the recovery console (USB pen drive, for example), type the following three commands, one per line, and press the Enter key after each command (make sure to type the space on both sides of the equal sign):

AllowWildCards = TRUE
AllowAllPaths = TRUE
AllowRemovableMedia = TRUE

6. Now type the commands you see below, one per line and then press the Enter key, after each command:

md c:\tmp
cd\system32\config
copy system c:\tmp\system.bak
copy software c:\tmp\software.bak
copy sam c:\tmp\sam.bak
copy security c:\tmp\security.bak
copy default c:\tmp\default.bak
del system software sam security default

After you enter each of the above copy commands, the system will reply with a message like "1 file(s) copied".

7. Now, type this set of commands, one per line and press the Enter key after each (Take care to type the space and the dot as shown):

copy c:\windows\repair\system .
copy c:\windows\repair\software .
copy c:\windows\repair\sam .
copy c:\windows\repair\security .
copy c:\windows\repair\default .

8. Now type exit and press the Enter key. The system will reboot.

9. Remove the CD from the drive and boot into Windows normally, as you do before. If, even after doing each of the above steps correctly, Windows doesn’t boot, you’ll have to do a clean install of Windows, after taking a backup of your data. There is no other way to recover.

But, the question is – How do you take a backup of a computer which doesn’t even boot or start Windows? Click here to read more on this topic and backup your computer before you format the hard drive or reinstall Windows from scratch.

However, if the system boots into Windows, then do the following:

a. Start Windows Explorer. On the Tools menu, click Folder Options and then click the View tab.

Windows_Explorer_Folder_Options

b. Under Hidden Files and Folders, select the radio button "Show Hidden Files and Folders", and then clear the "Hide Protected Operating System Files (Recommended)" check box. Also clear the "Use Simple File Sharing (Recommended)" checkbox. This is the last checkbox under the Advanced settings, so you’ll have to scroll down.

c. Click Yes when a dialog box is displayed. Then, click OK to close Folder Options.
Folder_Options

d. Now, check whether you have an NTFS or a FAT32 file system. How do you check if you have NTFS or FAT32 file system? In My Computer or Windows Explorer, right-click the C drive (or your Windows drive, if other than C) and then click Properties.

C_Drive_Properties

e. If the file system on C drive is NTFS, Windows won’t let you open this folder, but there’s a solution. Under the C drive, right-click on the System Volume Information folder and select Properties. In the drive properties, click the Security tab. Click the Add button, and then in the box that’s labeled "Enter the object names to select", type the username that you use to log on to Windows. This is shown in the image below.

If your file system is FAT32, you don’t have to do anything like the above. You can access the System Volume Information folder without any problems.

System_Volume_Information_Add_User

f. Now, open the System Volume Information folder. This folder appears dimmed, that’s fine.

g. This folder contains some _restore {GUID} folders such as "_restore{87BD3667-3246-476B-923F-F86E30B3E7F8}". Open a folder that was created before the current date and time. You may have to click Details on the View menu to check this.

h. There may be one or more folders starting with the name "RP x", under this folder. These are the restore points. Open one of these folders to locate a Snapshot subfolder.

_restore_folders

i. The following path is an example of a folder path to the Snapshot folder:

C:\System Volume Information\_restore{D86480E3-73EF-47BC-A0EBA81BE6EE3ED8}\RP1\Snapshot

j. From the Snapshot folder, copy the following files to the C:\tmp folder with the mouse (by Ctrl-clicking them):

_registry_user_.default
_registry_machine_security
_registry_machine_software
_registry_machine_system
_registry_machine_sam

_restore_snapshot_folder

k. Rename the above five files as given below (using the mouse or the F2 function key):

_registry_user_.default        default
_registry_machine_security     security
_registry_machine_software     software
_registry_machine_system       system
_registry_machine_sam          sam

l. Once again, put your Windows XP installation CD into your CD Drive and reboot the computer.

m. Again, press R for the recovery console when you see the message for recovery, just like you did in step 4 above.

NOTE: If you have access to another computer, to save time, you can copy the text commands in step n, and paste it in a text file called "Regcopy2.txt" (for example). You can also download this text file and save it on a USB pen drive, before you run the below command.To use this file, run the following command when you start in Recovery Console:

batch regcopy2.txt

n. At the console, type these commands one per line and press enter after every command (take care to type the dots exactly as shown in each command):

cd\system32\config
del sam security software default system
copy c:\tmp\software .
copy c:\tmp\system .
copy c:\tmp\sam .
copy c:\tmp\security .
copy c:\tmp\.default .

o. Now, type exit and remove the CD. Boot normally into Windows and you must be back to normal. In case, the restore point is not the one which you wanted, you can use the System Restore to restore a different restore point. This time you are already in Windows so you don’t have to use the recovery console. For more information, how to use the System Restore in Windows XP, click here.

How to Update Drivers in Windows XP

December 3rd, 2009 1 comment

If Windows XP doesn’t install a device automatically, or if the hardware is having some kind of problem, you’ll need to know how to update/install drivers in Windows XP.

If you see a Device Manager Error, sometimes the solution is as easy as updating the driver. Updating the drivers for a piece of hardware will sometimes enable additional features for the hardware as well.

Here’s how to update drivers in Windows XP:

  1. Check the device manufacturer’s web site for the most current drivers available for your hardware. Note: Many drivers come packaged with software that automatically installs the driver. The manufacturer’s website will tell you if the driver download is packaged this way and if so, the steps below aren’t usually necessary.
  2. Open Device Manager
  3. Locate the hardware device you wish to update drivers for.Click on the [+] icon to expand the categories.
  4. After finding the hardware you’re updating drivers for, right click on the hardware’s name or icon and choose Properties. In this Properties window, click the Driver tab.
  5. Click the Update Driver… button. The Hardware Update Wizard will begin.

  6. Click the No, not this time button and then click the Next > button. When asked “Can Windows connect to Windows Update to search for software?”
  7. Choose the Install from a list or specific location (Advanced) button and then click the Next > button. When asked What do you want the wizard to do?” The next window that appears will be the Please choose your search and installation options. window containing several buttons and checkboxes.
  8. Choose the Don’t search. I will choose the driver to install button and then click the Next > button.
  9. Click the Have Disk… button on the Select the device driver you want to install for this hardware. window.
  10. Click the Browse… button on the Install From Disk dialog box that appeared.
  11. Click the INF file that displays in the file list and click the Open button.
  12. Click the OK button back on the Install From Disk dialog box.
  13. Choose the newly added hardware back on the Select the device driver you want to install for this hardware. window and then click the Next > button.

    If you’re prompted with a message warning you about the software for the hardware device not passing the Windows Logo testing, click the Continue Anyway button. Many drivers are not Windows certified but are still perfectly safe to install. (If you’re installing a driver obtained from anywhere other than the manufacturer of the hardware, click the STOP Installation button instead and obtain drivers from the manufacturer directly.)

  14. The Hardware Update Wizard will now use the instructions provided in the INF file from Step 11 to install the updated drivers for your hardware. Follow any additional instructions on screen to complete the driver update.
  15. After the driver update is complete, click Yes to the “Do you want to restart your computer now?” question on System Settings Change and other important areas of your computer. Restarting your machine is a good way to confirm that updating drivers hasn’t negatively impacted some other area of Windows. dialog box. Not all driver updates require a restart of your computer. Even if you’re not prompted, I always recommend restarting anyway. The driver update process involves changes to the Windows Registry (If a driver update causes an issue, you can always roll back the driver)
Categories: Driver FAQ, XP Drivers Tags: ,

Yellow Exclamation Point

November 23rd, 2009 No comments

yellow exclamation pointA yellow exclamation point next to a device in Device Manager means that Windows has identified a problem of some kind of problem with that device.

This helps notify you that there might be a system resource conflict, a driver issue or another problem. Seeing the yellow mark itself doesn’t give you any valuable information other than notify you of a problem. It does mean that a “Device Manager Error Code” has been generated. To fix whatever problem is going on, you’ll need to view this code and troubleshoot accordingly.

NVIDIA GPU driver v191.03 released

September 28th, 2009 No comments

NVIDIA has released it’s newest driver revision for GeForce 100, 200, 6000, 7000, 8000, 9000 GPUs. The download is approx. 100MB, this beta Windows XP/Vista/7 driver delivers the following changes:

  • Adds support for OpenGL 3.2 for ION, GeForce 100, 200, 8000 and 9000-series GPUs.
  • Big anti-aliasing or SLI performance improvements for a handful of titles.
  • For graphics cards supporting multiple clock states, 3D clocks correctly return to 2D clocks after exiting a 3D application. This will have big power savings for impacted users.
  • Adds support for DirectX 11’s DirectCompute (Compute Shaders) API on GeForce 8000, 9000, 100 and 200 GPUs.
  • Added support for 3D Vision Discover, a feature to enable stereoscopic 3D for games.

This is a fairly important release, particularly due to the inclusion of the DirectCompute API. Note that this does not mean the compatible GPUs are DX11-ready; DirectCompute merely requires stream processors, and all recent GPUs have them. It can be expected that ATI will do the same thing with their next driver release.

Download

Windows Vista & 7 x86-32: Here
Windows Vista & 7 x86-64: Here
Windows XP x86-32: Here
Windows XP x86-64: Here

Camera Drivers for Windows XP

September 28th, 2009 No comments

Need drivers for your digital camera? (If you want to download the pictures from your digital camera to save, print or email, you first need to install the drivers onto your  computer.) The drivers that you need usually come in the original camera box on a CD. You can also download them from your camera manufacturer’s web site.

To get the pictures off your camera, either take the memory card out of your camera and plug it into a card reader, or plug your camera into your computer using a USB cable. Most of the CDs that are included in your camera package also include an editing software and also a digital photo album.

Click Here for a list of popular digital camera manufacturers and the links to their driver download pages.

Windows XP Audio Drivers

August 23rd, 2009 2 comments

If you’re having problems with the sound quality of your computer, before you buy a new set of speakers, first try to download the latest drivers for your sound card. The problem might be on the drivers and not on the speakers. (Why not try this first…drivers are a lot easier and less expensive to replace than the hardware.)

To enjoy a great sound coming out of your speakers, you need to have the latest audio drivers for your computer.  Some drivers are built-in into your computer system, especially in the case of notebooks. The first step is to check what type of sound card you have. You can find the driver information for most devices through the Control Panel. Click the Start button, Settings, and Control Panel. Locate the type of device you want to check. Click to select the desired device from the Devices list and click the Properties button. In the resulting dialog box, click the Driver tab and look for the Driver Date and Driver Version. You can download updated drivers from the manufacturer’s site. Or, look for the drivers CD that came with your system. Run the CD and look for the audio drivers. You can use the files there to reinstall the drivers in your computer. While that won’t update your driver, it usually solves most of the problems that users encounter with their sound system.

Categories: XP Drivers Tags: , ,

How To Access Device Manager in Windows XP

August 1st, 2009 No comments

The Device Manager is an integrated part of Microsoft Windows. It gives you an organized view of all recognized devices installed on your computer. The Device Manager is used to change options, manage your drivers, enabling and disabling your devices, such as your hard disk drives, USB devices, keyboards, sound cards and more.

Here are several ways on how to access the Device Manager in Windows XP:

  1. From the Control Panel:
    • Click the Performance and Maintenance link. (If you are viewing the “Classic View” of the Control Panel, you won’t see this link. Double click on the System icon.)
    • Click on the System icon
    • Click on the Hardware tab
    • Click on the Device Manager button
  2. From the Computer Management utility:
    • Click the Performance and Maintenance link. (If you are viewing the “Classic View” of the Control Panel, you won’t see this link. Double click on the System icon.)
    • Double-click the Computer Management icon
    • Click on Device Manager on the left side of the window, located toward the bottom of the list under “System Tools” (If you don’t see Device Manager Device Manager listed, you may need to click on the [+] next to System Tools.)
  3. From the Command Prompt:
    • Click on Start and then Run.
    • Type “devmgmt.msc” into the text box, and click the OK button.
Categories: FAQs, Troubleshooting Tags: , ,

Driver Errors in Windows XP

April 13th, 2009 No comments

Most computers have Windows XP for their platform. This operating system is regarded as the most stable and user-friendly in the market. However, Windows XP users do encounter errors with their system if their hardware drivers have gone corrupted or accidentally removed.

Drivers malfunction can damage your system. It is possible for your computer to crash while you’re in the middle of an application if the drivers become corrupt. Driver errors can also show up during start-up, causing your computer to fail booting altogether. Errors like these can paralyze your entire system.

The best solution for errors caused by drivers in Windows XP to update your drivers.Visit the support section of your manufacturer’s website to find current drivers for your device.

Sometimes you can just unistall the driver and reinstall the same driver version using the CD that came with your computer. This refreshes the files present on your computer and will overwrite everything else that may have become corrupt. The drivers have to be uninstalled first before they are reinstalled. All files (including the device itself) have to be removed from your system. If you just try to run the CD on top of the existing driver, Windows would just detect the drivers to be similar, telling you that there is no need to upgrade. Use the add/remove hardware section to remove the files first. (This technique is only advisable if there’s no valid driver update from your computer manufacturer’s site or from the website of the makers of the hardware itself.)

Categories: XP Drivers Tags: , ,

Drivers for Windows XP

February 18th, 2009 No comments

The drivers for your computer have to match the operating system on your machine. This means that changing your operating system would require you to change the drivers of all the computer hardware installed on your computer as well. This is the biggest drawback of updating an operating system in favor of the newly released platforms. Some hardware doesn’t even have drivers for the newer OS versions. Those devices then become unusable unless the manufacturer comes up with a driver update for your new operating system.

Here are some tips about a few popular operating systems:

  • Windows Vista: Although there are many Windows Vista driver downloads available from the Internet, some older hardware proves ineffective under this operating system. If you have one of these devices, you are forced to replace it with something that is compatible with Windows Vista.
  • Windows XP: This  is the most widely used operating system these days. The biggest issue users are encountering with this platform is usually related to the newer LCD monitors. To solve these issues, try visiting the manufacturer’s website and see if they have the Windows XP monitor driver that you need and download it.
  • Other operating systems: You probably won’t find any driver updates for the older Windows 98 software anytime in the future. Most users of Windows 98 have shifted to other operating systems, so manufacturers rarely take time to release Windows 98 driver updates for their hardware. However, Windows 98 driver downloads are still being offered over the Internet today. (A driver download just reinstalls the driver to your computer. It will not update your driver.) The same is true for Windows NT drivers. (Which is much older than Windows 98.) The process of updating, repairing, restoring, and installing drivers under this platform is a little different from the usual steps applied to the later Windows program. If you still have this OS installed on your computer and would need to update some of the drivers for some reasons, it is advised that you read the detailed instructions on how to go about it first.
Categories: XP Drivers Tags: ,