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STOP: c0000218 Registry File Failure

By:Christine Fettinger

One of my client’s servers recently experienced a hard drive crash. Luckily, it was part of a RAID -5 array and I was able to replace the hard drive and do a rebuild. Unfortunately, the hard drive crash caused the following error when trying to boot Windows:

STOP: c0000218 {Registry File Failure}
The registry cannot load the hive (file):
\SystemRoot\System32\Config\SOFTWARE
or its log or alternate.
It is corrupt, absent, or not writeable.

Looks nasty, but actually quite fixable.

First, boot into the Recovery Console. If you don’t have it installed, you can run it from the Windows 2003/XP install disc. Or another option is to boot to a BartPE
disc. Then open the Command Prompt.

Next, we need to rename the Software and System registry files and replace them with the install versions.

cd c:\windows\system32\config
ren software software.old
ren system system.old
cd c:\windows\repair
copy software c:\windows\system32\config
copy system c:\windows\system32\config

Now, reboot the machine. Windows should boot up successfully and you should be able to login normally. Once you are in, disable any extra services like Exchange, Blackberry, Anti-virus, etc.

The last step is to restore the registry files from the latest System State backup. Use your restore software to extract the System State to an alternative location. Find the Software and System files in the Registry folder you restored. Rename them to Software.new and System.new. Then copy them to c:\windows\system32\config. Reboot the server and go back into the Recovery Console (or BartPE). Now we replace the default registry files with the recently restored registry files.

cd c:\windows\system32\config
ren software software.repair
ren system system.repair
ren software.new software
ren system.new system

Reboot the server and load Windows. Complete!