The Windows registry is the configuration database for the operating system and programs. Registry files are very important; once a file is missing or damaged, errors occur. In this article, we will look at how to deal with a situation where a system registry file is missing. Let Techquack help you with such a dilemma.
What is a registry file?
The registry, also known as the Windows registry, is actually a hierarchical database of settings, options, information, and other low-level values of software and hardware installed on an operating system (OS). The registry is not one big file but consists of a series of separate files called hives (each containing a registry tree). Device configuration and user settings can be reflected in the file.
Where are the Windows registry files?
In fact, each time a new application is installed, a new connection is created and stored in the system registry. The settings associated with that application are contained in the file: location, version, size, etc. Typical registry hive locations :
- DEFAULT: \system32\config\default.
- HKEY_USERS \userprofile: \winnt\profiles\user_name
- HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \SAM: \system32\config\sam
- HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \SYSTEM: \system32\config\system
- HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE: \system32\config\security
- HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \SOFTWARE: \system32\config\software
Windows could not boot: Registry file is missing or corrupted.
While surfing the internet, I suddenly came across many people talking about the “missing registry file” problem. When you start up, your computer displays a black/blue screen indicating that the system registry file is missing or contains errors. You will then be locked out of the system, which means you will need to restore the registry to successfully access the operating system.
Many users have reported seeing the error message: Windows 7 failed to boot due to a missing or corrupt registry file. The truth is that the error “Missing or corrupt registry file” is not unique to Windows 7. It can also occur in Windows 8, Windows 10, and even Windows XP. And not all error codes are the same by status.
What is the cause of the “Windows couldn’t load the registry” error?
Windows 10 is closely related to the Microsoft account and user profile, and when the user profile is corrupted, serious problems can occur.
In this article, we will show you all the options you have when your user profile is corrupted.
A corrupt user profile can cause some problems and prevent you from accessing Windows.
Speaking of problems, users reported the following:
Corruption of your user profile registry key.
- Sometimes your registry can be the cause of profile corruption.
- According to users, your profile registry key can be corrupted and cause this problem.
A corrupted user profile cannot be loaded
- If your user profile is corrupt, you won’t be able to load it, and in some cases, you won’t be able to connect to Windows 10.
The user profile service does not work.
- This is another such error that can happen.
- Fortunately, this is not a serious error and you should be able to fix it using one of our solutions.
Active directory of a corrupted user account
- Depending on your users, this problem can sometimes affect your active directory.
- In most cases, you should be able to fix the problem by recreating the account.
Corrupted user file
- Several users have reported that their user file was corrupted.
- This can be a serious problem, as you will no longer be able to access your account.
Not loading the user’s profile
- Sometimes your profile doesn’t load at all.
- If you have this problem, you may need to recreate your profile from scratch.
Your user profile locks up and disappears again and again.
- Some users have reported these problems with their user profile.
- If you are experiencing these problems, you can try some of our solutions.
Unfortunately, corrupt user files are common in Windows, especially after upgrading from Windows 8.1/7 to Windows 10. Depending on the error message, different solutions may be used.
To fix the error preventing Windows from loading the registry
Method 1: Eliminate malware infection (if applicable).
If you suspect that the “Windows couldn’t load registry” error message is caused by malware, adware or spyware that has corrupted certain system files, it’s important to make sure that the virus infection has been completely removed before attempting to repair the corrupted files.
The fastest and most effective way to do this (in our experience) is to perform a thorough per-byte malware scan that will check your entire system and devices (not just your Windows drive).
If you’re not sure how to do this, check out this article (here) for detailed instructions on how to perform a thorough malware scan.
Once you have completed this process and made sure that all traces of viruses have been removed, move on to the next method.
Method 2: Recovering corrupted system files
Since most of the culprits of the “Windows couldn’t load registry” error inevitably result in corrupted system files, you need to take the necessary steps to fix any type of corruption that may affect your operating system.
In this case, the easiest and most effective way to fix any degree of damage to system files is to use utilities such as System File Checker (SFC) and Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM).
These two integrated tools have essentially the same capabilities but do things differently. The former (SFC) uses a local cache to replace corrupt system files with fresh copies, whereas DISM relies on Windows Update to download fresh copies to replace corrupt items it discovers.
Since DISM is designed as a backup plan in case the SFC fails to repair the corruption, we recommend running two utilities one after the other to repair the corruption and resolve the “Windows could not load the registry” error.
Here is a quick guide on how to perform an SFC and DISM scan from the extended command line :
1.) Press the Windows + R keys to open the “Run” dialog box. Then type “cmd” and press Enter to open the extended command prompt. When prompted for a user account (UAC), click “Yes” to grant administrator privileges.
2.) After successfully entering the extended command line, enter the following command and press Enter to begin scanning the SFC:
Note: Keep in mind that closing the CMD window or closing the computer after running this procedure can corrupt system files. Therefore, do not attempt to close the utility or restart your computer before completing the procedure.
3.) After completing the procedure, restart the computer and wait for the next boot procedure.
4.) Once your computer is fully up and running, run step 1 again to open another high PDC window. Then enter the following command and press Enter to start the DISM scan:
DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth.
Note: Remember that a stable internet connection is required for DISM to work properly as it depends on Windows Update to download new copies and replace corrupt files.
5.) After the DISM scan is complete, restart your computer and see if the problem still occurs after the next boot sequence.
If you still see new events with the message “Windows could not load the registry”, go to the next method described below.
Method 3: Delete UsrClass.dat file
Some users who have encountered this problem in Windows 10, with symptoms such as non-functional search function or non-expandable start menu, have been able to solve the problem by deleting UsrClass.dat file from the AppData folder.
In some circumstances, this procedure removes the corrupt registry key, forcing Windows 10 to create a new clean copy that doesn’t have the same problem.
Here’s a quick guide to removing the UsrClass.dat file:
1.) Open File Explorer on your computer, click the Ribbon View tab at the top of the screen, and check the “Hidden Objects” box.
2.) Once you have made all the hidden folders visible, navigate to the following location :
Note: Note that *yourUser* is just a replacement parameter for the user account you are using. Replace it accordingly.
3.) When you get to this point, scroll through the list of items, and find the UsrClass.dat file. Right-click it and select Delete from the context menu.
4.) After deleting the file, restart your computer and check if the problem is fixed the next time you start your system.
If you still see new errors in Event Viewer with the message “Windows could not load the registry,” proceed to the next method.
Method 4: Create a new user profile
Since the problem is usually caused by a corrupt user profile, you can solve it in most cases by creating a new profile for your Windows computer. Once this process is completed, any corrupt dependencies associated with the current user profile will be replaced with clean copies.
Several affected users indicated that they were able to resolve the issue by creating a new user profile. The “Windows could not load the registry” error no longer occurred after switching to a new account.
Here’s a quick guide on how to create a new user account in Windows 10:
1.) Press the Windows + R keys to open the Run dialog box. Then type “ms-settings:other users” in the text box and press Enter to open the Family and Others tab in the Settings app.
2.) While in the “Family and Other Users” tab, scroll down to the “Other Users” tab and click “Add another user to this PC”.
3.) On the next screen, add the email or phone number associated with the Microsoft account, or click “I don’t have this person’s credentials” if you want to create a local account.
4.) On the next screen, log in with a Microsoft account, or click “Add a user without a Microsoft account” if you want to create a local account (some network features will not be available).
5.) Add a username and password for the new account. You will then be prompted for security questions. Do this to secure your account and click Next.
6.) After creating your account, restart your computer and log in with the newly created account the next time you start up.
7.) After you have logged in with your new account, go to Event Viewer and see if you still see errors with the message “Windows could not load the registry”.
If you still have the same symptoms, proceed with the following methods.
Method 5: Using a previous restore point
If you’ve determined that the problem occurred recently, you can bypass the problem by restoring your computer to a healthy point where the “Windows could not load the registry” error did not occur.
All newer versions of Windows allow you to restore your system to a healthy state using restore points that were previously backed up. If you were lucky enough to have backed up a restore point before the problem occurred, you should have no problem fixing the error.
Note, however, that this procedure also overrides any other changes made since the restore point was backed up. If you want to do this, here is a quick guide to performing a system restore:
1.) Press the Windows + R keys to open the Run dialog box. Then type “rstrui” in the text box and press Enter to open the System Restore Wizard.
2.) While in the System Restore Wizard, click Next to go to the next screen.
3.) When viewing the next screen, first select the Show additional restore points check box. Next, look at the dates of each restore point and click on the one dated before the problem occurred to select it. Then click Next to move to the next screen.
IMPORTANT: Remember that all installed applications, user settings, and anything that was forced after the restore point was created will be lost once you start this process. This utility will restore your computer to its exact state at that time.
4.) Click “Done”, then confirm “Yes” at the confirmation prompt to begin the process. Shortly thereafter, your computer will reboot and the old state will be forced.
5.) After the computer restarts, make sure that the problem is resolved by checking the Event Viewer.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Go to the Settings panel.
- Go to "Updates and security".
- Click Restore.
- Click Start.
- Under Reset this computer, click Start.
- Click Save my files.
- Follow the instructions to complete the update process.
- Press Windows + R to open the Run dialog box.
- Type the following text and press Enter. regedit. When the User Account Control window appears, click Next.
- On the File menu, click Import.
- Select the backup registry file that you want to restore, and then click Open.
The first starting point is to check your system files. To use it, open a command prompt as an administrator, type sfc /scannow, and press Enter. This system scans your hard drive for registry errors and replaces any registry it finds corrupt.
- Install a registry cleaner.
- Restore your system.
- Perform an SFC scan.
- Update your system.
- Run the DISM command.
- Clean your registry.
Mark Ginter is a tech blogger with a passion for all things gadgets and gizmos. A self-proclaimed "geek", Mark has been blogging about technology for over 15 years. His blog, techquack.com, covers a wide range of topics including new product releases, industry news, and tips and tricks for getting the most out of your devices. If you're looking for someone who can keep you up-to-date with all the latest tech news and developments, then be sure to follow him over at Microsoft.