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Windows Crash - Please Help


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I got up today to start my computer and I am hit with the following message.

Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:

<Windows root>system32ntoskrnl.exe.

Please re-install a copy of the above file.

I went to the following site that told me to use the recovery console from my Windows CD.


But the problem is Dell never provided me with a recovery CD.

All they provided me with was a sheet of paper that says the following:

Your new computer does not require an operating system CD or driver CDs. Instead, if you ever need to re-install your software, use one of the following methods.

The options they give me:

Option 1. Microsoft Windows System Restore returns your computer to an earlier operating state without affecting data files. For more information, double click the Owner's Manual's icon on your desktop.

The problem is I can't even log in. So I can't access my desktop.

Option 2. Dell PC Restore returns your computer to its original operating state. For more information, double click the Owner's Manual's icon on your desktop.

The thing is I don't want to lose any of my data and I need to know as to how to access the SYSTEM RESTORE tool without the CD or without being able to log in to my system.

Thank you very much for those trying to help me figure this out. This just hit me out of nowhere. Thanks again.

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One thing I would like to mention is that my desktop runs a Windows XP Media Edition and I have a laptop that runs Windows XP Pro. Now I have the installation CD for Windows XP Pro. Could I use that CD to restore the above listed file - meaning could I use a XP Pro CD to fix a problem with XP Media Edition? Once again thanks for all the help.

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I have finally been able to fix it, though I am not sure what I did.

All I did was put my Windows XP Pro CD and asked the computer to boot from my CD drive. And when it prompted to press any key to boot from CD I just didn't do anything, and the startup was great. It took me to the login screen and I am able to access all the files.

I don't know how the booting from CD works but I guess that did the trick.

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When you start the system and the Dell splash screen is shown, hit the F12 key. From the boot options menu, choose "Hard Drive diagnostics" - it may be listed as "IDE hard drive diagnostics" or "SATA hard drive diagnostics". The test will take around a minute and a half to two minutes. If it passes, the rest of your data is probably fine. If it fails, take a note of the error code and call Dell technical support, stating that you've run the 90/90 test on your hard drive and it failed with error code X.

If your system was rolled out as part of the MRI (media reduction initiative) scheme, you'll have gotten a discount on the system price for not having any media provided. If you weren't on the MRI scheme, you should have gotten a copy of the disc with the system, so call technical support and request a copy of the disc. If they put up a fight, get them to check the order details and see that you should have had a disc with the system. If they're determined, ask to speak to an L2 (usually the team's tech lead).

If the test fails with error code 7, boot to the CD when you get it and run chkdsk /r from the recovery console.

if the HDD passes the test, all you need is a valid copy of the ntoskrnl.exe file. Restore that from whatever medium you like and your system should be fine, but be prepared for another couple of errors - you may have to copy more than one file. If you know anyone else with XP M.E., you could borrow their CD for a couple of hours, boot to it, and restore the files.

If you want to PM me your system service tag, I might be able to have a look at the specs and details for you.

(BTW, keep backups in future.)

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Thanks for the reply MarkB. It seems to be working right now but would you still recommend me run the Hard Drive Diagnostics and see if everything is ok?

The thing is, I am not sure how I fixed it but the computer seems to be loading fine now.

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Definitely, yes, run the HDD diagnostics. It's just a basic test that will test the integrity of the drive. In all honesty, I'd recommend running it once a month, even without any problems. The 90/90 test is a Dell technical support rep's best friend - trust me. :) There's also a more extensive test of the drive which you can run if you really want to make sure it's 100% OK, but it may take a while - it's the hard drive equivalent of the Spanish inquisition. If you want to know how to run that, just let me know.

It could have been an intermittent problem accessing the file and the drive will work fine now, but on the other side, it might be a sign of a more serious underlying problem and an indication that the drive is on the way out.

Either way, back up your data.

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Also, see if you can make installation CDs yourself so in case if something similar happens, you can just use the installation CDs you made. I think DELL has that option and that is why they don't offer reinstallation CDs unless if you call them, which took a few days for them to send me an XP reinstallation CD. But unfortunately that CD they sent me didn't contain all the extra Dell features. But for the future, unless if the hard drive dies, there is always a way to recover data if you need to do so.

~~ Good luck ~~

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Thank you for the info MarkB. I will try the steps that you have suggested. Thanks once again.

No problem at all, good luck. (BTW, ran 5 of those tests at work today, all failures. ;) )

1 - Normal

2 - Diskette Drive

3 - MBA Undi

4 - Harddisk Drive C:

5 - IDE CD-ROM Device

Very strange...I'll try to check that out tomorrow. You should have at least another 2 options there. What BIOS revision are you using? The latest revision is A09. Check out this] page - it shows all of the downloads available for your system type.

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