windows system32 config system is corrupt in Windows Server 2003


1. Insert your Windows Server 2003 CD and reboot from the CD drive

[To boot from CD, go to BIOS Setup option on startup and select your CD/DVD drive as the first boot drive, save the present settings and exit]

Your computer will reboot & will boot from Windows Server 2003

2. Press ‘R’ when offered the option of using the Windows Recovery Console

Recovery Console will prompt at the command prompt type the following:

C:\WINDOWS >cd system32\

this changes the current directory to C:\Windows\System32

ren config configold

This renames the config folder to configold

mkdir config

this makes a new directory called config

cd config

changes the current directory to c:\Windows\System32\Config

then type the following lines pressing enter after each one

copy c:\windows\repair\system

copy c:\windows\repair\software

copy c:\windows\repair\sam

copy c:\windows\repair\security

copy c:windows\repair\default

after each line it should say:

1 file copied

type: exit

Now Server will reboot

[To boot from Hard Drive, go to BIOS Setup option on startup and select your Hard drive as the first boot drive, save the present settings and exit]

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92 comments on “windows system32 config system is corrupt in Windows Server 2003

  1. What will this fix do? Does it work on a Small Business Server? Will it change any configurations (e.g. Exchange etc)?

  2. Worked! Thanks; this solved the issue with the server of a customer. And saved me a lot headache however this only succeeded after I made an image of the drive and followed the procedure with the server drive connected to my workstation. In de server itself the windows recovery console crashed everytime.

  3. Got this error message on a server used for testing, so it contained only Windows and VMware Server. Reinstalling wouldn’t have been much worse, but knowing the repair option should be useful somehow, I set out to actually solve the problem, not only overwrite it.. 😉
    Your article solved the problem completely, however I notice that all user settings are gone, and I have to reinstall VMware Server application. It was due for an upgrade anyways.. 😉
    Thanks a lot for this excellent solution!


  4. for some reason i can do all but copy over the new files it just keeps saying the system cannot find the file specerfied.
    many thanks jon

  5. as it turns out the c:\windows repair file is missing the system,software, sam, security and default files are missing wot can i do apart from a fully reinstall to sort this

  6. Yo,
    Came in this morning and the server was thrashed by an electrical storm the night before. Got the corrupted message … did chkdsk 5x’s before it reported the HDD clean. It was ugly. Was on the phone w/ Dell server support (needed a little help getting the controller booted so that the repair console could see the disks … I had always ignored the F6 option). Anyway, aside from that, me and Dell didn’t know how to fix it, I was able to recover and boot into OS using these instructions. After being impressed, the Dell rep asked me to FW this page to him and he’s going to run it up the flagpole as a solution to problems such as this. I backed up my critical data, and restored the server from backup. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS TECH NOTE. YOU SAVED MY LIFE.

  7. Hi Greg,

    With Pressure you can always my blog for more tech tips.

    Did dell guys run it up the flagpole as a solution to problems such as this?


    • Hi
      When I type logon on command prompt, there is no request for the local administrator password! What Should I do?

  8. Many other guides detail copying the backed up files into the config folder which was not working for me. This guide gets you to create a new config folder which worked a treat for me and saved me the time of a rebuild. Only problem was the backed up files were quite out of date. Is there any way to force more regular updates of system files?

  9. Merci beaucoup!
    j’avais l’erreur sous Windows serveur 2003 en serveur virtuel avec un disk .vhd

    et cette manipilation a corriger le problème.

    il y a aussi Winimage v8 avec keygen disponible sur le site et le keygen vous le trouverai facilement j’en suis certain. Avec Winimage v8 il est possible de copier le stoke de votre disk .vdh vers un répertoire backup de votre choix sur votre machine.



  10. Hey, thanks! I had some VMware images that I needed badly off my trashed server and this at least got me booting up again! Now, if I just knew how to get Administrator to use his original directories/desktop….

  11. I get a file copied for all of them except copy c:\windows\repair\system? Any suggestions. I have tried repeatedly.


  12. It worked great until I rebooted, not it acts like it’s going to boot into windows but restarts every time it gets into the boot screen. I have no idea what the hell to do now but a fresh install.

  13. Hi,

    thanks a lot for your help
    I just have one question, using your method windows ask me for the administrator password but now the password did not work !!!

    there is a default password in this case (with this method) because the previous one want work.

    Kind Regards

  14. Hi,

    There is no default password you must remember your local system password not domain password if your computer was in a domain. And there another point that people does not consider; by applying this method all your registry information will be lost and if you don’t have any backup (ip address, some drivers information, domain information,etc.)


  15. EXCELLENT….MS knowledge base articles had registry restore garbage, hot fixes, etc….After applying this fix my only problem was that the server would indicate destination unreachable when doing a ping to any IP other than itself…I right clicked and ran a repair on the network adapter in control panel with same results.. then uninstalled HP Nic Team from the connection “server only has one nic so it was not needed” and presto back in business in less than 45 minutes….Exchange is running fine, two errors that I’ll work out but nothing serious…Server 2003 RC2 on HP ML350 running Exchange 2003….Thanks for the article…

  16. Sounds great going to try this today on my one File & Print server, one doubt “will this recovery retains the share & NTFS permissions that i have set for ths folders?”

  17. You have no idea how much this post has helped me. Truly, Thank you so much. I could not find this straightforward information anywhere else. Thankyou Thankyou.

  18. If the system reboots contineously after applying the above solutions then
    Try the following steps.

    cd c:\windows\system32 press enter

    ren config confignew press enter

    ren configold config press enter


    and restart

  19. Hey,
    m using Server 2003…..
    By using above method previously installed softwares or applications rus as usally or should i re install n config that n my server is bit infected of virus bt AV is not able to clear that pls suggest any tools to clean that
    pls help me…..

  20. This got the server booting again, but I had to re-apply SP2 and over 130 updates. Plus DNS seems to have lost all forwards and domain entries. two primary exchange services won’t start and SQL doesn’t seem to be responsing even though it is started. Not sure if this was caused by the crash or this fix. Anyone have any ideas?

  21. Note if only says system is corrupt or missing, just try overwriting the system instead of everything. It may come up with an error the first time it boots, but the second time it could come up like it did for me without overwriting all the other settings. Had I overwritten everything as described here, the system would boot, but then I would have had to reconfigure alot of things, including domain membership, in order to restore the server to its intended purpose.

  22. This worked great. FYI as someone else mentioned this will wipe out all your registry settings. After following these steps and getting the system to boot into a fresh profile, I repeated the steps above to get back into the recovery console. Once there I copied the 5 files from the configold folder back into the new config folder and it restored all my profile settings. Apparently non of the files themselves were corrupted, there was another issue inside the config folder that was causing the system not to boot.

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  27. it solve the Problem but, when i Started the Server i cannot see any Installed Application even SQL server.
    No Driver is Installed.
    Windows Looked like new.

    What to do?

  28. Thanks you so much, I have exchange installed on server 2003 and have the problem in start up same as you mentioned above. I have started the server using same method.
    I so thankful to you as it was great help for me.
    Thanks so much.

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