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Getting error message - Stop c0000218
{Registry File Failure} The Registry Cannot Load Hive (File):
\SystemRoot\System32\Config\Software Error

on a Dell Dimension 3000 running XP Home. Ran chkdsk, which could not fix it. Drive is still visible, but diagnostics report Error 7.

Is there a fix for this? Can I format it and reinstall the OS?

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When do you get this error? What does "chkdsk could not fix it" mean - did it report any errors or just didn't found nothing? – gronostaj Aug 4 '13 at 20:16

The "Software" part of your registry is damaged. If you have system restore turned on there should be no need to reformat.

Boot the computer from a Windows install media XP or otherwise.

XP CD:  Recovery Console
Win 7/8/etc  Repair Computer "Command Prompt"

cd "\System Volume Information"
dir /ahs
cd _restore{<random hex number>}

There should be folders named RP### You need to go into the last or 2nd highest numbered entry.

For example:

cd RP500
cd snapshot
copy _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SOFTWARE c:\windows\system32\config\Software

If the highest number fails to work go back one more and keep doing the steps over till you find one that works.

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