OT: Need help from a PC guru

Charles Robinson charlesr at visi.com
Thu Oct 8 10:52:54 EDT 2009

On Oct 7, 2009, at 12:47, paul stenquist wrote:

> My daughter has a custom built PC. It's about four years old, and  
> I'm not sure what processor is in it. It runs Windows XP and was  
> fine until recently. Now she can't seem to get it to boot, and she  
> can't afford to get help. I'm useless when it comes to PCs. Here's  
> her description of the problem. Can anyone give us a clue?
> On startup I get this error message: "Windows XP could not start  
> because the following file is missing or corrupt: \WINDOWS 

That's one of the three "registry hives".  There are a few  

1. A disk error is preventing that file from loading/reading  
properly.  If that were the case, a simple tool like  
"spinrite" (approx $80 and lovely tool to have in your bag of tricks)  
could likely fix the problem and you're on your way.

2. The file itself is corrupted even though the disk is good.  If this  
is the case, it's restore from backup or reinstall.  But you've said  
that the reinstall is not working either (which is weird), so

3. Could be a RAM problem, or motherboard problem - just hangs up  
while reading the file even though that file might be fine.  Hard to  
fix.  But if you download Memtest-86 (freeware!) and burn it to a CD,  
you can run this software on that machine and see if there is a memory  
issue.  http://www.memtest86.com/  -- free download, just pull down  
the ISO image and burn it yourself.

Last possiblity:

4. Some sort of virus is on the PC.   You'd need to boot from some  
other disc and scan the drive to remove whatever it is.  This can be a  

Good luck with the Best Buy guys.  Like any tech shop, there will be  
smart folks and not-so-smart folks in the lab.  It's kind of a  
crapshoot which one will sit down at this machine to work on it,  
though.  Too bad you aren't closer to Minnesota - I'd take a look at  
it for you for nuttin'!


Charles Robinson - charlesr at visi.com
Minneapolis, MN

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