My Tablet PC is a Very Sad Panda

Topic: Tablet PC 14 years, 3 months ago

So I’m restarting my Tablet PC and I find Windows seems to be stuck at “Windows is shutting down…” Naturally, after waiting for a few minutes I just flick the power switch and turn it off.

Lo and behold, I power it back up and get this:

Windows XP could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM

Uh oh. Let’s try restarting?

Uh oh. Windows still refuses to boot.

If I’m not mistaken, this error means the registry is corrupt beyond repair — I don’t have a clue why this would’ve happened. Luckily, a corrupt registry should just mean that Windows is borked and can’t start. All my data should in fact be unharmed.

In my case this isn’t even particularly important as all the data on my Tablet is normally just a mirror of what’s on my desktop. Luckily I synchronised the two just before this happened, so there’s no data loss and I can continue working without interruption. What’s annoying is I need to be mobile everyday with the Tablet and I can’t really afford any downtime at all.

Ah well, let the adventures begin!

Options

My first thought for getting out of this mess was simply to roll back to the last backup image I did of my Tablet’s Windows installation (I use Acronis True Image). Unfortunately, unlike on my desktop I don’t backup my Tablet nightly, I only do it when I feel like it — yep, that sure is dangerous! It looks like my last backup is from 24 Sep 2005, and I’m pretty sure I’ve installed some software since then. Too bad.

The other option would be to restore a working copy the registry from a recent System Restore checkpoint. In order to do this you need to boot to Recovery Console to allow you to copy the registry files around. (In practice it’s actually a little bit more complicated as you need to be able to get to the System Restore data.) A Microsoft Help and Support article has details.

Where’s my Optical Drive?

Unfortunately there’s always a problem with disaster recovery on my Tablet: it doesn’t have a built in optical drive! It’s kind of annoying, really… I can’t boot to Recovery Console on my Windows DVD or to my Acronis True Image recovery CD. I’ve actually installed Recovery Console on my Tablet specifically to get around this problem, but this time it refuses to boot to that either!

There’s only one way to get around this. It’s time to borrow a USB DVD drive from my friend Fiona again! I really ought to buy a USB DVD drive of my own, since I’m at her house borrowing her drive seemingly every other week — and there’s always ice cream or jelly at her place too!

It’s not something HP or the other Tablet manufacturers will tell you, but having an optical drive is a necessity for when things go pear-shaped. Sure, I can share my desktop’s DVD drive over the network normally to install applications, but that’s no help when you can’t boot Windows in the first place.

So I’m off to Fiona’s place to pick up her DVD drive now. I’ll let you know how things go later… wish me luck!

(Update, 15 Oct 2005: So this morning I boot to Windows setup on DVD, run Recovery Console and then restart without acutally modifying anything. Guess what? Windows now boots! I have no idea what’s going on, but I’m happy! Tablet is alive! :D )

The Attention-Seeker: My Tablet PC Usability Problems in Antibiotics?

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