Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Manually Restoring Registry Files (offline System Restore for XP)

The process in this post is not relevant for Windows Vista or Windows 7. For Windows Vista or Windows 7, boot from the installation DVD and perform a repair. The repair process can perform a system restore.
I recently had an unbootable computer that complained about registry corruption on startup. I attempted a last known good for recovery but it didn't work. Which makes sense because last known good works within the registry rather than replacing registry files. A system restore on the other hand replaces the registry files, unfortunately I couldn't get the system bootable to the point of performing a System Restore.

Here is how I replaced the registry files manually:
  1. Boot the computer from a bootable DVD such as WindowsPE or Ultimate Boot CD 4 Windows.
  2. Browse to C:\Windows\System32\Config and rename:
    • SAM
    • SYSTEM
  3. Change security on C:\System Volume Information to allow Administrator access
  4. Browse to C:\System Volume Information\_restore{xxxxx}\RPxxx\Snapshot (choose the RPxxx folder based on time of creation)
  5. Copy the following files to C:\Windows\System32\Config and rename to match step 2.
  6. Reboot and good to go.
It's a pity I'm learning this as Windows XP is slipping out the door. However, this has only become relevant in the last few years when a lot of XP machines are starting to have registry corruption issues due to failing drives.

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