Fixing a Corrupt Windows Registry

Fixing a Corrupt Windows Registry

I had a friend that asked me to take a look at her computer. The machine wasn’t booting up correctly and Last Known Good would not run. Nor Safe Mode. With just a quick boot, I could immediately spot the problem, a corrupt Windows System registry hive.

hiveThe registry hives, there are 5 of them, are used to store data for your system. They are the lifeblood of Windows. They store all kinds of information such as user settings, application settings, If any of the registries are not corrupt, you’ll have a non-booting system.

This computer system had a problem with the System hive and it prevented the computer from booting. The main issue that I found is that there was also no backup copy of that hive! That meant most of the recovery methods were not valid, as they all depended on the backup hive being available. For some reason, there was no backup, not even from when the machine was originally configured.

Thinking in another direction, I thought perhaps I could read the registry on my computer and could then repair it there? Turns out someone has documented a method of doing just that: Carl’s Blog.

His method was to pull the drive, load the corrupt registry hive on a working computer and repair it there. Then just pop the drive back into the non-working computer and magically it will be fixed.

All I can say is that it worked! 2 minutes and I was finished. Computer problem solved. Here are the steps:

  1. Pull the hard drive with the corrupt registry hive and use a USB – SATA bridge to connect it to a working windows computer. (In my case, the broken pc was windows xp, and the good pc was windows 7)
  2. Launch REGEDIT.
  3. Highlight HKLM then go to File – Load Hive.
  4. Give the hive a name. Carl used “badpc” and so did I. You should get an error message which is to be expected.
  5. Now, highlight “badpc” and File – Unload Hive.
  6. Pop the drive back into the original computer and DONE.

Like I mentioned earlier, this takes all of 2 minutes to do.

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