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I have an old system that has Windows 2000 on it (yes, I should retire it), that recently stopped booting, with the message "Windows Could Not Start Because the Following File Is Missing or Corrupt: \Winnt\System32\Config\Systemced"

Searching around revealed a couple of useful sites,, and also, which at least helped me get the machine booting again, albeit with a default system registry hive.

My question is, is there any way to analyze/repair the 'broken' system hive?

Both the links above suggested that Windows 2000 will throw the indicated error when the system hive exceeds 16MB, but the one on this system was only just over 9MB. The 'regcompact' utility (as seen at doesn't seem to even recognize the old hive. My inclination is to get a copy of the suspect hive onto one of my more modern machines and try to repair it somehow, then transplant it back. Any thoughts on how to proceed are welcomed.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Your almost only hope is to put back the bad system hive and try Microsoft's Windows 2000 Registry Repair Utility :

Registry Corruption in Windows 2000 can prevent your system from booting. The Windows 2000 Registry Repair Utility is a tool that can help to recover a Windows 2000 system from registry corruption. This utility can be downloaded on to floppy disks and then run on the system with the corrupted registry. Six floppy disks are required for downloading this utility. The utility will attempt to repair the corrupted registry and allow your machine to boot again.

As computers with floppies are not very plentiful, and you have the WIN2K machine working, maybe use it first to create the six floppies

If the alternative version of the system hive, System.alt, was not enough to fix the problem, then the next best idea may be to reinstall Windows 2000.

If you do not have the original boot media, they may still be found on torrent sites (use "win2k" in the search), although with very very few seeds.

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I have the ailing system booting and recognizing a thumb drive. If there's a way around messing with floppies, I'd rather avoid them. Could this 'repair utility' be put on the system using the thumb driver, then run from a Setup repair console? Or does it expect to execute from floppies? – JustJeff Apr 16 '11 at 1:28
One can convert the boot floppies to a boot CD. For example here and here. – harrymc Apr 16 '11 at 5:36

Running chkdsk /f on the hard drive will correct file system corruption, this will solve the hive corruption most of the time.

Chkdsk will fix >80% of "file missing or corrupt" messages at boot time, if you get it repaired and booting normally, defrag the drive, heavy fragmentation can cause file system corruption, always run chkdsk before you defrag.

I would run chkdsk before using the W2K registry repair utility.

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