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Is it an epidemic?

In my earlier post I mentioned that I have seen three computers this week with the same problem: At boot up they get an error message saying that the file %windows%\system32\config (or something similar) couldn’t be found. After thinking about it a bit I realized I actually have seen 4 computers with the same problem this week.

  1. Windows XP Home unknown SP level, in Detroit. I talked a family friend through the reinstall process after she got the error and found out that the partition type on the HD was “unknown.” I forgot about this one until today. I think I talked her through the problem on the 21st or 22nd. I don’t know what she used to connect or if she had a firewall.
  2. Windows XP Pro SP1a, Doctor’s office. They have a support contract with another company so the problem will be taken care of through them; but I did run chkdsk on the drive to see if it was a simple fix. Reported that it fixed several things on the HD and it did fix the error; but windows is hosed. The network connection is spotty, and Symantec AV thinks it is corrupted. Found this one on Monday the 28. Hardware firewall and internet access is limited to about 10 minutes at a time.
  3. Windows 2000 Pro unknown SP level; PC for a friend. Same error, ran chkdsk on it, it fixed some problems but the ‘cannot find file’ error remained. Ran through the Windows 2000 setup and the partition information was fine on it. This one was dropped off to me on Wednesday the 23rd or Friday the 25th. Connected via dial-up, no firewall.
  4. Windows XP Pro SP2, my desktop PC. Suddenly rebooted itself and displayed the error. Attempts to run chkdsk failed with “unspecified error” running the XP setup shows that both partitions were reporting as “Unknown.” After reinstalling XP it ran its own chkdsk on the second partition and fixed it as far as I can tell. I haven’t used my PC much since the reinstall so I have no idea how intact my data is. Errored on the night of Tuesday the 29th. Ran ZoneAlarm as well as a hardware firewall on the network. This PC was recently reinstalled when the previous hard drive failed after the cat hit the power switch on the surge protector too many times.

This seems like way too much of a coincidence for all four to have happened in the past week. What is going on here?


About James

I am a Senior Developer/Consultant for InfoPlanIT, LLC. I previously spent over 7 years as a Product Manager for what eventually became ComponentOne, a division of GrapeCity. While there, I helped to create ActiveReports 7, GrapeCity ActiveAnalysis, and Data Dynamics Reports.


One thought on “Is it an epidemic?

  1. I have the same situation “unspecified error” while running chkdsk. Maybe one of my SATA HDs is bad? I put a 550W PS in it seemed to help. The crashes aren’t as frequent. Any advice?

    Posted by Cal Meta | January 3, 2006, 3:19 am

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