windows xp booting issue

A friend of mine had some booting problems with their computer; it wouldn’t boot. Here’s what happened.

The error displayed during the boot process said, “\System32\Drivers\FastFat.sys missing or corrupted.”

I found a web site touting the benefits of checking the knowledge base first. In his case, the error was displayed because of bad memory, however I got the same error when I put the hard drive into another machine that worked fine, so bad memory wasn’t the source of the problem.

I booted off the Windows XP CD into recovery mode (actually, my friends couldn’t remember the administrator password, so I had to boot off a specially made Linux CD that had a password clearing mechanism for Windows XP, then I booted into recovery mode). I backed up FastFat.sys and expanded a new one (with the expand command) onto the hard drive from the CD. That got rid of the FastFat.sys error, but instead of booting normally or getting another error, it silently hung during the boot process.

My next course of action was to install Windows XP on top of the existing installation, otherwise known as restoring Windows XP. It’s a nice solution because you don’t lose any of your files or settings, but you get a new copy of the Windows XP installation. That fixed the booting problem, but then the modem wasn’t working. I found drivers for the modem and got it working, but then I couldn’t create any dial-up connections. In one dialog the dial-up connection option was grayed out and using another method I got an error saying the Remote Connection Manager Service wasn’t running. I searched on Google for the error and learned it’s a known issue in Windows XP that you cannot create a network connection after you restore Windows XP.

The recommended fix is to install Windows XP SP1, but it would take longer to download that monstrous beast on a dial-up connection than it would to walk to Redmond, copy the code by hand and key it in. Fortunately, there was another option which was far easier and faster. That option was to delete two registry keys and verify that a third had the correct value (it did). When I did that and rebooted, the dial-up connection that used to be there magically appeared and it worked beautifully.

The registry keys to remove are:


Then you need to make sure that under the key below, Objectname has the value LocalSystem.


When we finally got the connection up we found over 100 e-mail messages waiting on the server. The process of resolving the problem took me over two weeks because each time I ran into a problem I went home to research it on the internet. It would then take me a few days to get back over to their house to continue working on it after I had found the information and/or files I needed, and then I’d run into another stumbling block and start the process over again.

Without the internet, I don’t think I would have ever figured out the cause of that problem on my own and I thank my lucky stars I didn’t have to try.


 (Post a comment) | Comments RSS feed
  1. I can empathize.

    Comment by Cameron on December 8, 2004 @ 11:07 am
  2. I had a terrible problem with that and eventually I had to reinstall XP but it does not automatically find all the drivers. that would be nice.

    Comment by fareed on December 9, 2004 @ 8:33 am
  3. Get a Mac.

    Comment by Andrew on December 13, 2004 @ 8:50 pm
  4. Andrew: I’m not the one using Windows XP, and when someone asks you to help them with their computer, telling them to get a Mac is about as helpful as a hole in the head.

    Comment by dan on December 13, 2004 @ 9:11 pm
  5. why a mac when my pc works just fine

    Comment by fareed on December 13, 2004 @ 11:03 pm

Comments are closed