Windows XP won't startup

I ran the defrag utility on a Dell 4300 running XP. The search function won't work after that, so I shut the computer down. Now it won't startup; I get - missing or corrupt / windows/system32/config/system. I ran various startup disc functions with no success. Is my only option to reinstall the OS, if so, is there way to preserve the programs
already installed or do I have reinstall those as well?

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More about windows startup
  1. The REPAIR install allows restoring the system without erasing your programs and files.
    See the directions posted at the top of THIS forum for REPAIR install. This will replace missing files, and get the thing up and running again.
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Configuration Defragment Windows XP