Nov 29 2012

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:


Skip to comment form

    • Mark on Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 3:14 am

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

    • veebo on Monday, May 20, 2013 at 8:19 am

    You a scholar, thank you for this post

    • Anonymous on Friday, May 24, 2013 at 4:03 am

    thank you for your post this.

    • Doc on Tuesday, July 30, 2013 at 3:31 pm


    • Justme on Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 3:31 am

    200% thanks,
    Works like a charm !

    • Jan on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Why is the RegBack folder empty?

    • Anonymous on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 1:20 pm

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

    • Eric Silva on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 1:29 pm

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

    • Andrés González on Monday, December 2, 2013 at 6:58 pm

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

    • paul on Sunday, December 15, 2013 at 11:07 am

    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

  1. 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.

    • Dan on Sunday, March 23, 2014 at 12:19 am

    Awesome fix thanks so much!

    • John on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    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

    • Amilton on Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    Muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuito Obrigado por esta materia, salvou minha vida.

    • Ivan on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 3:15 am

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

    • Maciek on Monday, July 28, 2014 at 10:40 am

    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!


    • Dumisani on Sunday, November 2, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Thank you so much you saved me

    • kip on Monday, November 3, 2014 at 5:12 am

    Thanks a billion for this solution. It worked….

    • Anonymous on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    thanks man!!!!

  2. I searched everywhere for a solution and yours worked straight away
    many thanks

    • cepuscamea on Monday, January 19, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    thank you, you are the smartest man I know!

    • fane on Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    Thank you so much! This worked like a charm! Much appreciated!

    • Caliseparatodos on Friday, July 3, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    Me has ahorrado 50 euros como poco en recuperar la información y muchas horas para que hubiese dejado todo como antes. Eres un genio!!! Muchas gracias

    • Anonymous on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    Thank you soooooooooo much~
    you saved my old laptop, which i would just throw away if i have to restore and go through all the setup.
    Thank you again!

    • Bader on Sunday, December 20, 2015 at 4:18 am

    I have the same problem and still nothing work from the options that will recover my file and fix it . every time I try the safe mode or the other options its giving me the same massage . pls I want help I want to use my laptop . and I don’t have even CD ROM here . there is any way ????

    • Eric Silva on Sunday, December 20, 2015 at 8:36 am

    You can install Ubuntu to a USB drive and follow the same process by booting into Ubuntu from USB.

    • Bader on Sunday, December 20, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Thank you for replay Mr Eric .. I tried that but it’s not working with the USB . i even have a USB CD ROM but still can’t see it when the dos start . I tried the boot options but still not working in the start . all what I get is the same massage every time .

    • Bader on Tuesday, December 22, 2015 at 9:02 am

    Okay . now I have a external case for my hard disk . I take it out and contact it with a nother laptop . what should I do now M.R Eric .. Can I change the corrupted file that I need from any CD ?

    • Eric Silva on Tuesday, December 22, 2015 at 10:04 am

    Connect the external disk to another computer and follow Steps 5-9 above.

    • Bader on Tuesday, December 22, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    You are the best man .. Thank you so much . I appreciate it .. It’s work now .

    • Biruk on Sunday, May 1, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    Thank you sir. very simple but very useful fix

    • Tab on Tuesday, January 10, 2017 at 2:20 am

    Thank you so much. Grateful kudos to you friend.
    Helped me solve my problem: Vista Home Premium sp 2 would not start up. No Disk.

    • Amol P on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 at 8:43 am

    Thank you so much Eric! This trick worked for me today on Win7.

Leave a Reply