image Let me start by saying I hate things like this, but sometimes you just need to do it…   I had a client with a laptop that was stuck in an endless reboot loop.  Safe mode, command prompt, etc. all led to a quick blue screen (“something about the registry”) and a reboot.  For anyone who’s been there, this means registry corruption.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have my copy of ERD Commander with me, so I couldn’t use that to come to the rescue.

Fortunately, I found a great online resource that walks you through, step by step:

  1. Boot into the recovery console using the Windows XP setup CD
  2. Copy over the following files in C:\Windows\System32\Config with the files from C:\Windows\Repair
    – system
    – software
    – security
    – sam
    – default
  3. Start the computer regularly
  4. Give your login access to C:\System Volume Information
  5. In C:\System Volume Information, find the latest folder starting with RP… (look at the modified dates of the files).  Copy the following files:
    _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SAM  –>  rename to SAM and copy to a temp folder
    _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SECURITY –> rename to SECURITY and copy to a temp folder
    _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SOFTWARE –> rename to SOFTWARE and copy to a temp folder
    _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SYSTEM –> rename to SYSTEM and copy to a temp folder
    _REGISTRY_USER_.DEFAULT –> rename to DEFAULT and copy to a temp folder
  6. Reboot back into the recovery console using the Windows XP setup CD
  7. Copy those 5 files from your temp directory over the files in C:\Windows\System32\Config.

That’s the quick version, you can find the full version here.  It worked like a charm, and the client’s laptop is back and healthy again.

Now too bad that isn’t more automated.  How great would it be if you could just start your computer, get the blue screen, get to the regular/safe mode/etc menu and have an option right from there to do a system restore.  Maybe someday…  Even in Vista, I believe that you have to boot from the installation DVD to do a system restore.