after a year or so of working normally my daughters pc now displays 'c:\window\system\vgaoem.fon is corrupt' on booting.
i have tried microsofts suggestion of using the repair console and typing 'expand f:\i386\vgaoem.fo_ c:\windows\system' but i get the message 'access denied' I'd be grateful for any suggestions, I can't just do a fresh install of windows as there are about five years of files on the disk which are needed!
The easiest way to get the information off would be to pull the hard drive out and attach it to another computer and just pull the information off that way. Then you would be free to perform a full reinstall without worrying about the information. If you don't have access to a secondary computer then you could try the following.
A windows repair would more than likely fix this issue. You can do this by booting to your installation CD. At the screen where you have the option of pressing "R" for the recovery console you can just hit enter to Continue. If I remember correctly you will then be prompted to agree to the ToS(F8) and then if the boot cd picks up on your OS then you will be given the option to do an Automated System Recover by pressing "R" again. (If you are seeing partition information then that means the disc was unable to find your OS and doing a repair install will not be possible. Whatever you do, do not erase your partition or try to install over them, you will lose your information.)
This is a more advanced process as it replaces all of your windows system files but leaves your programs and files intact. You might also end up having to reinstall all of your system drivers. You also want to make sure that your cd has the same service pack as your system otherwise it can lead to further complications such as an activation issue which is fixable but it's another step. If you have any questions before proceeding or if you've attempted this fix and have issues just reply, or feel free to message me if you prefer I'll do my best to help.
GhislainG - When I booted from the Windows CD I was not asked to login, when I chose the 'R' for Recovery console I went straight to the Dos prompt. If it is relevant, all users listed on the pc (it has XP Pro installed) have administrator rights.
fusion_gtx - As you suggested might be the case, when I booted from the CD and pressed enter rather than 'R' windows did not detect any installations of XP on the drive and so did not offer the choice of repairing, only of formatting the drive and doing a fresh install. I probably would have ended up removing the drive and transferring the files to my other pc but more in hope than anything I ran chkdsk /r from the recovery console and it found and repaired some bad sectors. The pc has now booted into Windows and ran for about an hour or so, in which time we managed to transfer most of the needed files to an external drive. After that we suddenly got a black screen, pressed reset, Windows loads ok again. No idea what's going on, do you think I should replace hard drive (it is quite old) or just do a fresh install?
Before you do anything so far as getting a new hard drive or re-installing, is it possible that your system just went into sleep or hibernate mode? I would double check your settings and just disable sleep/hibernate for now. You can do this by opening the Control Panel --> Power Options and changing the settings from there. Just set everything, at least for the time being, to never. That way you can see if your system will run consistently without issue. Hopefully you'll find that everything is fine from the hardware perspective.
P.S. I would have recommended a chkdsk /r except I had thought you didn't have enough rights in the recovery console. Glad you tried it though
Before you do anything so far as getting a new hard drive or re-installing, is it possible that your system just went into sleep or hibernate mode? I would double check your settings and just disable sleep/hibernate for now. You can do this by opening the Control Panel --> Power Options and changing the settings from there. Just set everything, at least for the time being, to never.
If the chkdsk fixed the hard drive errors, you should be ok. If your BIOS has the SMART technology feature, you may want to enable it. That can give you heads up if the drive starts failing. If you have a flash drive, or external hard drive, it may also be a good idea to back up the important files, just in case.
This is an incredibly old thread. I realize that. But I just had this problem the other day and found a way to get around the "access denied" problem. I, too, was never prompted for any sort of login information. This solution requires extra hardware that I happened to have and it worked.
Using an IDE->USB drive converter, I was able to pull the hard drive out of the computer and connect it my laptop. It then appeared on my laptop as any external drive would. (We'll call this the E:\ drive) Once connected to my laptop, I was able to put the XP installation CD into my laptop's drive (D:\ drive) and use the expand command through the command prompt as described above.
expand -r D:\i386\vgaoem.fo_ E:\windows\system
This allowed me to copy the single file into place and not need to do any massive re-install work.