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Fixing XP’s Registry from the Recovery Console Using System Restore Points

November 11, 2010 Leave a comment

I recently had a client’s Windows XP machine suffer a crash that corrupted its registry and prevented it from even booting into safe mode. After trying several different tricks to try to get it to boot, I came across an article at http://bit.ly/ccKMOe that really did the trick. I thought I’d summarize the steps I took to perform the fix:

  1. Boot into the Recovery Console using a Windows XP CD. If you prefer, you can use a Live CD like Knoppix or Ubuntu to access the computer’s hard drive.
  2. Backup the current SOFTWARE and SYSTEM registry hives. While this step isn’t technically required to restore the registry from an old system restore point, it is always a good idea to make a backup of system files that you are going to replace (just in case you have one of those “uh-oh” moments later and need to undo what you just did). To do this from the Recovery Console, type:
    cd \Windows\System32\Config
    ren software software.bak
    ren system system.bak
  3. Navigate to the directory where the system restore files are being kept. You can do this by typing: cd "\System Volume Information\_resto~1". The _resto~1 part of the line is a shortened name for a directory called _restore followed by a long GUID number. If this command doesn’t work, you will need to replace the _resto~1 with the full name of the directory (you can find out what the whole name is by using the dir command).
  4. In the _restore directory, there are a bunch of directories starting with RP. These are the different restore points saved on your system. Use the dir command to see the dates associated with these various restore points and cd into one with a date before the problem started occurring (ex. cd RP743).
  5. Inside the restore point directory, there is a folder titled snapshot. Type cd snapshot to change into that directory as well. In the snapshot directory, there are backup copies of the SOFTWARE and SYSTEM registry files that we need. Copy them into the Windows\System32\Config directory by typing:
    copy _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SOFTWARE \Windows\System32\Config\software
    copy _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SYSTEM \Windows\System32\Config\system
  6. Type exit to close the Recovery Console and restart your computer. If everything went right, you should be able to boot into Windows XP without any problems.
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