More HDD woes... and a true image question


Active Member
I woke up this morning to an unreposnisve house. When I went to my server, HS had a program error (one of those where the windows box pops up and tells you it must close the application) and everything else was not responsind.

I rebooted and was told that windows could not start becuase the entire system directory was missing and I need to use my windows CD and the 'r' repair option to fix it.

Well, I knew (or at least I'm pretty sure) I had an acronis image from Sunday night/Monday morning, so I though it'd be better to just use it. To my dismay my acronis bootCD did not work (it worked before) it just would not finish loading. Must've gone bad or something.

When I get home tonight, I'll use another PC to create a new boot CD and hopefully it will be fixed.

If for some reason this does not work, or if the image is older than I think (I made a lot of changes last week, so if Sunday's image is not their for some reason, using the previous week's image may be bad), what will using the recovery console do. I had heard before that the recovery console can realy mess things up. Either way, what do y'all think is a better option - using my image or using the recovery console.

Now, there's a chance that the HDD may no longer be useable, in which case I'll have to get a new one, or use one of my existing data drives.

I'm seriously considering getting a new one (two actually) and taking advantage of my mobo's built-in RAID 1 abilities, so I'll have some redundancy for the future. Down time really sucks!

I know that True Image has some limitations on the types of volumes it will work with. Can True image work with RAID 1? I'm wondering if I install two drives, have the RAID BIOS set them up as RAID 1, then - could I have Acronis True Image restore my last image to the RAID 1 volume? I think I'll submit a help ticket to the Acronis folks just to be sure.

Another option, is to rebuild the system from scratch (which will finally give me an opportunity to install HS2), but that's the least desireably option.. especially if I go the RAID 1 route, since my system has no floppy drive, I'll have to create a special slipstreamed windows CD with my SATA drivers on it (and I'll go ahead and add the latest SP and my other drivers too).
Hey John,

Can you give us the exact error message you see when you boot up the system? This would help us figuring out what exactly is wrong, and if it is repairable. Also, did you try booting the "Last known good configuration"?
I'll have to do it when I get home - can't RDP a PC that won't boot :D (although there are some really fancy KVM over IP deals that will let you).

It never even got as far as the last known configuration... but maybe I need to hit F8 to see the options?

OK, I googled some of the keywords I remembered from the screen and found what looks like the exact message I got:


While doing that googling, I also found this (from: )
Q: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM is corrupt. HELP! (#3546)
A: Your system displays the error message.

Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM

That means the System Registry Hive has become corrupted.

There are two ways to get back up and running. The easy way which doesn't always work, and then there is the hard way.

Easy Way --- Note that this doesn't always work.
When you are booting your system, press the F8 key during the start of the bootup sequence, meaning after it does the Power On Self Test.

Once you press the F8 key, you will be taken to a Menu. Select "Boot Using Last Known Good Configuration".

It will now attempt to load Windows XP using a past set of configuration files.

If that doesn't work, there is the next step....the hard way.

Hard Way
Boot your system with the Windows XP Install CD, let the system boot into the Setup. Once in the Setup, choose to run the Recovery Console.

You will now be presented with a screen similar to good old DOS.

First, we will recover the System Hive.

Now, type in the following commands with pressing Enter after each line.

md tmp
copy C:\windows\system32\config\system C:\windows\tmp\system.bak
delete C:\windows\system32\config\system
copy C:\windows\repair\system C:\windows\system32\config\system

Be very careful when you are typing in these commands, one wrong move, and you know, broken Windows XP.

Also, change the C in the commands to whatever your Windows XP drive letter is.

Attempt to boot the system, if it doesn't boot, get back into the Recovery Console and do the following commands.

md tmp
copy C:\windows\system32\config\software C:\windows\tmp\software.bak
delete C:\windows\system32\config\software
copy C:\windows\repair\software C:\windows\system32\config\software

The full Microsoft Support Knowledge Base Article that I based this FAQ entry on can be found here (Q307545).
I'm a big dumby becuase I always know to push F8 when crap like that happens and I'm not offered the startup menu. I'll try this first thing tonight. Could fix everything in a few minutes :p
If that's the error you got, then it's definitely the registry. You should be able to fix it by restoring the backup, but you might lose a few settings made in the last few days (I didn't read your instructions, but I assume they mention this).
I had a friend who experienced that "MISSING OR CORRUPT: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM" error on his PC. I tried most of the things suggested on some web sites but they didn't work, except this one:

I'll tell you: it is long and detailed, but worth its weight in gold. The nice thing is that you can recover from many different dates, as you'll see in the text.
Thanks Guy. I'm not sure if that will work since I have system restore turned-off. I may not have those restore points!

If "last known" doesn't do it for me, I'll try the phased approach in the article I pasted in earlier... It only kills a chunk of the registry at a time..

If my settings are screwed-up and I have no restore files - I'll just backup my HomeSeer and MLServer directories (which are the only ones that have changed in the past 10 days or so) and use the last True Image 'image' I have, restore it, and replace my HomeSeer and MLServer directories with the backed-up copies.
OK. My system's back up and running. Here's what I did.

First I hit F8 and tryed "Last Known Good..." It did not work.

Then I inserted my XP CD and started the recovery console. I typed:

md tmp
copy C:\windows\system32\config\system C:\windows\tmp\system.bak

But it eould not let me copy, must've been really messed up.

So I decided to forget about creating the bak, since I had the Acronis TI ace in the hole as a fall back and I typed:

copy C:\windows\repair\system C:\windows\system32\config\system

That worked. I exited the console and windows rebooted. It booted up, but I gues since it was using the "fresh install" system registry, it reinstalled all my hardware. This was unnaceptable becuase it changed my drive numbers, the com ports for my modem and ten serial ports, and the network settings for my NIC.

Next I checked the date on my last Acronis TI, It was 23 October.. See, I have TI setup to create an image on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Sunday of each month. Darn October had 5 Sundays, so I missed a week! I'll have to see if there's a "5th" option in TI.

Since I had made several changes to my system since the 23, just in my HomeSeer and MLServer folders, I copied those to another HDD. I got a CRC error about 95% of the way through the copy, apparently on the MLServer folder files. So I went copied just the data files from the MLServer folder and they copied OK.

I then launched TI and had it restore the 23 October image, which only took a reboot and about 5 minutes - including verification. THAT'S FAST!

Windows rebooted and executed a scandisk on all the drives (I must've had one scheduled when the image was made). Scandisk uncovered a lot of errors - these probably contributed to the crash.

When windows restarted, everything appeared to work at first, but after a few minutes, everything started crashing.

I scheduled another scan disk, this time I set it to fix errors and do the thorough surface scan.

Windows rebooted again and fixed all the disk errors (apparantly, the previous time it was not set to fix anything, just ID problems). Windows started up and ran fine after that. I'm thinking this HDD may be on its last leg.

I then copied the backed-up HS and MLServer files. Becuase of some weirdness I had to manually redo the DooMotion xml file, becuase it created a fresh one, but that was an easy fix.

However I learned that the CRC error I encountered earlier that interrupted by backup also failed to copy my entire HomeSeer scripts directory. I had created 2 new scripts last week and lost 'em both. Fortuneately, I had uploaded the more complex of the two to the HS board and was able to retreive it. The other one is pretty simple and I should be able to recreate it from memory.

I then reinstalled HS, HSP and all of my plugins, just to be safe.

Everything ran fine through the night, even though MLServer was crashed by morning. I reinstalled it and it seems to be OK now.

So, after all that I have a net loss of 1 script. I also noticed that the system has more free memory now. I think that the corrupt HDD space was somehow causing something to run inefficiently.

I also got an email back from Acronis support. They said that there are no reported problems of TI running with a RAID 1 setup with my particular RAID controller (Silicon 3112 SATA controller on an Abit NF7-S motherboard). So that may be an option.

I'm considering getting a pair of 36.7GB WD Raptor 10kRPM SATA drives. They can be had for $110 new and as low as $85 refurbed, but I don't know if the little performance improvement they'll give will be worth the extra $$. These are just going to be system drives, and not for storage, so they don't need to be big. I wonder how cheap I can get two identical 7200RPM SATA drives for?

I wonder, is a 10,000 RPM drive 38% faster in actual use than a 7,200 RPM drive? Will my system boot 38% faster? Will my TTS voices load 38% faster? Perhaps I'll post a seperate thread about these drives...