Computer problem, corrupt system file, won't boot

So few days ago I walk into work to see one the computers says

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

You can attempt to repair this file by starting windows setup using the original setup CD-Rom. Select “r” at the first screen to start repair.

So I get into the repair screen, google around on another computer to find out how to fix it. (Chkdsk), fix it, and move on.
This morning it said the same thing. Any ideas on why this would happen more then once?
Hard drive maybe?

Having files disappearing at random would certainly sound like a failing hard drive to me. The only other thing that it might be is a virus, but I’m betting that it’s a hard drive failure.

Likely hard drive failure.
Alternative minority chance failure mode is persistent system fails causing unclean shutdowns result in corrupt file systems.
Some of the most likely causes of system fails, in order:

  • bad power taking unit down
  • bad RAM
  • bad mobo
  • bad CPU
  • bad PCI/AGP card of some other type

On edit:
Suggest running drive OEM hard disk drive diagnostic utility before proceeding with service. If passes, reload or repair system, then rule out other system fail causes by trial and error.

That’s my guess as well. It’ll be an hour or so before I have it up and running. Then we’ll do what we need to do, I’ll image the drive and replace it later in the day.

Well the PSU,RAM,mobo and CPU are all a year or less old. But I beleive the HD is still pretty old.

You’d be surprised how young some failed RAM can be.
Also, junk AC power can hammer your PSU, which can then burn out the RAM, mobo, and sometimes CPU.
85% it’s gonna’ be the hard drive.
Another tip, once you have it booting again, run a:

Watch it start. If you get more than 25 corrupt files at the beginning, that’s a bad sign about the hard drive.

It’s running right now.
Once it’s done, we’ll do the work we need to do and I’ll image the drive and replace it.

Dammit, chkdsk /r didn’t work this time. It’s rebooting, I’m thinking…

Still having problems. What happens if I image the hard drive as is?

I used to deal with this sort of problem at least once a week.

This is usually a corrupt Registry. Last Known Good is your friend. Or, preferably, if you can boot to Safe Mode, restore a previous checkpoint.

If CHKDSK doesn’t finish, uh… you got hardware issues.
I’d suggest pulling the drive for forensic reasons, fixing your hardware problem(s), installing Windows on another drive, slaving up the old drive and saving all your documents found on the old drive.
After your files are safe, then worry about regaining use of this suspect drive.

Well, here’s what happened.
I got into repair mode (dos prompt) via an XP disk.
From there I navigated to the corrupted fild
That’s what threw me to begin with, that looks like a directory, not a file. Anyways it’s an extentionless file, there’s a good copy elsewhere on the drive, I copied it over, rebooted, got into windows.
Now remember, I said I had a few things to do before I could start backing everything up. Well, I had to send some packages out via UPS. So I try to pull up Worldship and I get all kinds of errors. After twenty minutes of diagnostics and rebooting, I give up and uninstall in. During the reinstall, the whole computer crashed and I couldn’t boot. The computer couldn’t find the hard drive to boot from.

The hell with it, I went to Best Buy and picked up an eMachine for $330 (including tax) and now I have that up and running. It’ll do, barley, for now.

But now I find out UPS doesn’t have any software for Vista. I really wasn’t expecting that. I should have been expecting it from UPS, but I wasn’t. So I have to install it on a different computer and in the mean time I enrolled in the Worldship Beta so we can run it off the other computer.

What a fun day.

Well, my suspicion that your HDD was crap turned out to be dead-on.
Once it goes sideways on you, it can go real far, real quick.

Re UPS Software:

Ow. That sucks.
May I suggest using VMWare or Microsoft Virtual PC to emulate a UPS-capable OS in your new hardware?
You’ll need install media, but if you’re computer-savvy it can be fun to tinker with.

I’m intrigued, tell me more…

Re: HDDs going bad. If you look back at posts of mine in similar topics, my basic advice boils down to

I know from first hand expierence that hard drives that go bad, go bad REAL fast.

In fact, one of my employees that was supposed to do the shipping had specific instructions from me…Get everything ready to ship, the second this computer is up an running, I want you making the UPS labels and sending the data to UPS so I can start backing up. Ok.

Oh well, now I get to tinker with Vista I guess.

Well, I’d tell you all about VMWare and Virtual PC, but that would fill a small book.
Let’s just say it’s handier than sin at my workplace… I can run NT4 in emulation for troubleshooting, W2K in emulation… roll back screwed up software installs even quicker than system restore can do it, and on OS platforms that don’t have system restore.

And just to note, virtualbox is a formerly commercial Virtual Machine program that is now free (as in Open Source).

The Linux version is pretty good, I have not tried the Windows version.

VMWare server is also free, but there is no easy interface. So is the MS Virtual PC server software. Both can be run on workstations, but are not quite trivial.