Repair the Windows Registry in Windows 7 if you cannot log on

Last Updated on September 9, 2020 by Next Century

It’s been quite a while since Windows XP launched back in 2001 and at the time, it’s stability as an operating system made it very popular.

Like other versions of Windows, XP uses the Windows Registry for most settings and configuration options.

At times, the Registry can become corrupt or damaged and prevent you from logging in to fix the issue, but there are some procedures to get the Registry fixed and minimize the downtime for your business.

Here are some options to try:

Option 1 – Last Known Good Configuration

  • Turn on the computer

  • Press the F8 key before the Windows logo appears to bring up the Advanced Boot Options menu

  • Select the option to start the computer with the Last Known Good Configuration

    If Windows boots up, then this has resolved your issue.

Option 2 – Safe Mode and System Restore

  • Try to start Windows XP in Safe Mode from the Advanced Boot Options menu

    If Safe Mode refuses to start, then skip to the Windows Registry Repair section

  • Log in as the Administrator or a user with Administrator privileges

  • Click Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore to open up the System Restore dialog

  • Select Restore My Computer to an Earlier Time and click Next

  • Choose a restore point from the calendar before the computer started having trouble, then select Next

  • Select OK if a dialog pops up noting that some drives aren’t tracked

    Select Next to have System Restore restart the computer

  • Log in as an Administrator or a user with Administrator privileges

    A System Restore Restoration Complete Screen should appear

Option 3 – Windows Registry Repair

  • Make a backup of important files if possible.

    The process shouldn’t affect any of the installed files, but having a backup is always a safer idea.

  • Insert the Windows XP CD and boot up the computer

    If possible, make sure the Windows XP CD matches your version of XP, Home or Pro.

  • When prompted, press a key to boot from the CD

    If the computer tries to boot directly into Windows, you need to enter the BIOS, usually by pressing F2 or the Del key when the computer first starts up

    In the BIOS, change the boot order to have the CD-ROM boot before the hard drive

  • Press R to start the Recovery Console from the Welcome to Setup screen

  • Choose the Windows XP installation and enter the Administrator password when prompted or press Enter if there isn’t an Administrator password

  • Type the following lines in the Command Prompt window that comes up to create a backup of the existing broken registry:

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

  • Type the following in the Command Prompt window:

    copy c:\windows\repair\system c:\windows\system32\config\system copy c:\windows\repair\software c:\windows\system32\config\software copy c:\windows\repair\sam c:\windows\system32\config\sam copy c:\windows\repair\security c:\windows\system32\config\security copy c:\windows\repair\default c:\windows\system32\config\default

  • Choose Yes when asked to overwrite the existing files to restore the Windows Registry

  • Choose Start Windows Normally if the Advanced Startup Options menu appears

  • Type exit and press Enter to restart the computer.

    You can remove the Windows XP CD from the drive before restarting, though you may want to keep it close by if Windows refuses to start normally.

Option 4 – Windows Repair Installation

  • Let Windows start normally instead of booting from the CD when it restarts.

    Proceed through any dialogs that appear while Windows repairs the installation.

    If Windows still fails to boot after the repair, a full reinstallation may be your only option

  • Insert the Windows XP CD and boot up the computer.

    If you haven’t made a backup of the important files on the computer yet, this is another opportunity to.

    Again, the repair installation should only affect the Windows installation on the computer.

  • Press a key when prompted to boot from the CD

  • At the Welcome to Setup menu, press Enter to set up Windows XP.

    The process is similar to a full reinstall of Windows, but instead attempts to repair the existing Windows installation

  • Accept the License Agreement

  • Select your existing Windows installation from the list and press R to repair it.

    If repair isn’t an option for the installation, the Windows CD version may not match the installed version; press F3 to quit and back up your files before fully reinstalling Windows or to try other options

  • Allow Windows to copy the files from the CD

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