My brother did something to his girlfriend’s computer that corrupted C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM, leaving the system unable to boot. When I arrived, on my way back home, they pounced on my technical skills and recruited me to fix the computer. I asked first for the same thing the Gateway did: The XP system disks.
I Googled a few things before starting, trying to get more information on the error. The Recovery Console could be used to fix the problem, but the process was extremely risky on OEM-installed versions of Windows, which hers is. Reinstalling Windows was the next likely option. I dug out the disk and requested that it repair Windows. Multiple attempts merely resulted in installer crashes.
After more back-and-forth with Google and Casey (my brother’s girlfriend), we finally decided to just do a clean install of XP, wiping all data and programs from the PC. Since the disk is from Gateway, it’s likely that it will be returned to factory state, meaning not all programs will be gone. Applications that were included with the machine should still be present, but all settings and data (that is not backed up) will be gone. Oh well. Why can’t Microsoft operating systems be more resilient?
Stay tuned for an update on the outcome.