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Nov 29 2012

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Windows Vista Failed to Start – Status: 0xc000014c

I am sure someone else has figured this out already, but I thought I would post my solution for fixing this problem.

It started out with a co-worker telling me his Windows Vista laptop would not startup after a recent Windows Update. I asked about Safe Mode, and Restoring the Last Known Good Configuration. He said he had tried those options but kept getting a black screen with an error. I finally said let me see the computer and started to investigate what the problem might be. I quickly realized the registry had become corrupted.

The message on the screen was this:

Windows Boot Manager
Windows failed to start. A recent hardware or software change might be the cause. To fix the Problem:
1. Insert your Windows installation disc and restart your computer.
2. Choose your language settings, and click “Next.”
3. Click “Repair your computer.”
If you do not have this disc, contact your system administrator or computer manufacturer for assistance.
File: \Windows\system32\config\system
Status: 0xc000014c
Info: Windows failed to load because the system registry file is missing, or corrupt.

To fix this, I did the following:

  1. Boot the machine from an Ubuntu Linux disc.
    If you don’t have an Ubuntu disc, you can download the ISO and create one, or use an alternate boot method like WinPE or repair disc, or anything that will let you get a command prompt to the \Windows directory.
  2. When booting using Ubuntu, select the Try It Out option. This will install a memory resident copy of Ubuntu, but it doesn’t affect your Windows install.
  3. Once the installation completes, you will see the Linux desktop. You want to click the folder icon near the top of the icon bar on the left side of the desktop.
  4. In the window that opens, locate the main partition of your Windows installation in the file tree (look near the top), and open it.
  5. Navigate to \Windows\system32\config
  6. Locate and rename the SYSTEM file to SYSTEM.BAK
  7. Locate the RegBack folder in the same directory and open it.
  8. Copy the SYSTEM file from the RegBack folder (right click or type CTRL-C)
  9. Go back to the \Windows\system32\config folder, and paste the SYSTEM file you just copied.
  10. Reboot the machine, follow the instructions for removing the Ubuntu disc, and Windows should boot normally. To reboot Ubuntu, click the ‘gear’ icon in the upper right of the desktop window and click Shutdown. Then click the Restart button in the dialog box that opens.
I hope this works for you. Since most modern version of Windows and Windows Server use the same registry architecture, this fix should work for Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, and possibly Windows 8.

Permanent link to this article: http://ericsilva.org/2012/11/29/windows-vista-failed-to-start-status-0xc000014c/

16 comments

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  1. Mark

    Phew, Thanks for posting this. Saved my a couple of hours re-installing a system.
    Thanks again
    Mark

  2. veebo

    You a scholar, thank you for this post

  3. Anonymous

    thank you for your post this.

  4. Doc

    DANKE!!!

  5. Justme

    200% thanks,
    Works like a charm !

  6. Jan

    Why is the RegBack folder empty?

  7. Anonymous

    thx, this helped!!! AS well, you can take a regular Win-boot-CD and do the rest via command-promt.

  8. Eric Silva

    @jan the RegBack folder should not be empty. If it is and your registry is corrupt, you have a much bigger problem.

  9. Andrés González

    Thank you very much for this post, it really works, works great! Very thankful!!!!

  10. paul

    What an elegant but simple fix. Vista repair would not recognize SATA 500 g drive even w Drivers loaded. I actually had Ubuntu Live CD loaded to confirm drive was extant when search brought this up on a separate machine. Saved a lot of time and did not need to go inside the box

  11. renevredeveld

    Txs Eric, even a relative noob like me fixed this within an hour.
    Directions where clear.
    My adolescent daughter very happy. Got a kiss on the cheek. :-)
    Dank U wel.

  12. Dan

    Awesome fix thanks so much!

  13. John

    Cheers – saved my bacon. Didn’t have the ability to make a Ubantu CD so installed it on to a USB drive and booted my broken machine from the USB port -> see here http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/create-a-usb-stick-on-windows

  14. Amilton

    Muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuito Obrigado por esta materia, salvou minha vida.

  15. Ivan

    Post from 2012. saved my life today :)
    Tanks so much!

  16. Maciek

    Even though I had some problems with starting Ubuntu on my laptop your sollution is great, easy, and most of all succesfull! Thank you so much Eric, this is brilliant!

    Cheers

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