XP repair option not available - EXPERTS only plz

Now before I begin, I would like to say that I am a technician working for a local shop trying to improve my skills. Also, I *can* Google and have exhausted all of the generic answers that would have likely been given. I am looking for a truly advanced answer here as I have tried everything else.

- The hard drive is IDE, thus there is no AHCI option to worry about in the BIOS interfering
- The computer I am trying to repair has XP Home Sp2
- The disk I am using to attempt repair is an XP Home Sp3 disk that has been used on countless other customer machines to perform a windows repair. The disk is NOT the issue here, and I know how to perform a windows repair :kaola:. I have also attempted to use an XP Home Sp2 repair disk as well to no avail.

- Cannot boot into safe mode, VGA mode, or Last Good Configuration
- Parted Magic does not report any errors and passed an extended test with Hard Drive Health Inspection
- ERD Commander recognizes the installation as an "unsupported" version of Windows NT. Therefore, I cannot perform a system restore or an sfc /scannow (Unless there is another way that I don't know about)
- UBCD4Win was used to attempt to restore the registry to several points in the past to no avail
- Performing a chkdsk /r in Recovery Console does not work
- Performing a deletion of boot.ini and bootcfg /rebuild does not work either

Basically my question is, what EXACTLY/what files does the XP installation disk use to determine if a partition contains an XP installation? Does it use files in the WINDOWS directory to determine this? Does it use the registry? I want to try and force it to recognize that there is, indeed, an installation of XP so that the repair option becomes available for me to use.

What I am thinking of doing is using the hidden option to install Windows to the same partition but a different folder (Say, for example that I would name it WINXP, and then copy contents from the new WINXP folder to the old WINDOWS folder to try and force the XP installation disk to recognize it.

I don't know if this would work or what exactly to copy over so as to not completely screw up the old installation.

I am also open to any other options I may have overlooked.

EXPERT techs only, PLEASE, and if you answer, please read over my post thoroughly as I am sure I have covered what 99.9% of you would suggest. Thank you :)
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  1. I have an easy fix for you.

    With the time you spent on this, you should just get a secondary drive and install Windows on that. I don't know how many hours you spent trying to fix it this but from the sound of things you could have bought 2-3 hard drives for the cost of the time.

    If you are trying to avoid having to have the owner re-install thier software after all of this, you probably have a 1% chance of things working right if you do manage to repair the current setup.
  2. "Experts only"?? Then state required credentials for giving an answer.

    I have a hard fix for you.

    ERD looks for a good registry.

    Go to:


    In your case, it's ERD you want to have a successful start.

    Where they say to use recovery console, don't. Use ERD instead, by starting ERD and selecting to not log on to an existing windows installation. The Explorer in ERD is far easier to use than the repair console (that won't run anyway).

    You are doing only Part 1. (Part 2 assumes you can now get into Windows... yea, right).

    After registry repairs are made, restart ERD and this time, log on to the XP installation and do a restore point.
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