+ 2 Votes How to get Windows booting again gechurch February 15, 2013 at 3:43pm PST Others have already covered this, but options for recovering the file are: * Buy a large USB stick and install some sort of live OS onto it, then boot from that and copy the file * Buy a USB CD/DVD drive (and boot off one of the live OS discs and copy the file to a USB stick) * Buy a USB-to-SATA cable. Open your computer case and pull out the hard drive. Plug in the power, and plug the SATA cable into your new adapter. You then plug the USB end into any computer and it will detect your hard drive and let you read the files. (That is, it turns your hard drive into a portable one). * Take your PC to a local computer store and ask them to recover it for you. If you're interested in fixing the problem, that's not much harder. It is caused by a corrupt registry file (in your case C:\Windows\System32\config\system). If you have System Restore turned on (it's on by default), then a backup of this file is made every time your computer creates a restore point. The easiest way to recover is to download a trial of the Microsoft Diagnosic and Repair Toolkit (MS DaRT) for Windows XP. Boot off that (again, you either need a USB stick or external CD drive). It has a registry restore wizard which will let you take a backup of the registry from any of the restore points and copy it in place over the corrupt file(s) in C:\Windows\System32\config\. Your computer should boot again once you've done this. Note that you will then need to get to the bottom of why the corruption happened. Your first step is to run chkdsk, because the most likely candidate is a failing hard drive.