xp and the blue screen of death

Well my 5 yr old Dell has been giving me the blue screen on boot up  for the past couple of weeks, first sporadically with random errors but finally settling down to a hard core “cannot load hive” stop error, and even fingering the \system32\config\software file.  I have never seen this before, but apparently there is plenty of company out there in cyberspace, with good google hits on the hive file problem for XP.   The recovery console is a boot option installed off the XP distro disk and allows boot into a primitive command line interface, let me guess –  a  DOS command prompt rendered subservient to Windows permissions and root authentication controls (sigh). No problem.  I have a full disk backup (Easus Todo backup) – I copied the registry files to a CD, booted to recovery console, copy E:SOFTWARE c:\windows\system32\config, reboot…  every time I have to boot the computer.   Memory is my #1 suspect, writing garbage back to the disk … I could confirm this indirectly if I can prove that the registry file (SOFTWARE) is corrupt but I don’t have a sum or md5 utility for the command console to determine whether software is **actually** corrupt, but the copy works and it appears so.   I looked into a memory testing utility, but I’d have to compile the thing, create a bootable disk to run it.  It is a good exercise for the interested which I’m not (anymore).  Anyway, the problem is consistent with ram problems and not with disk corruption.  Why the SOFTWARE file … actually it must be because that kernel data structure is always in the same place in RAM and very seldom touched in operation.  All academic. Today little buddy Jonathon brings in some hand me down ram and tonight after getting home from a political fundraiser (it is that season again), I swap in the ram, and this old system is working just fine, rebooting smoothly, good as new.  Yeah!  Thanks Jon.  This XP OS  is on its last legs as is this Dell Dimension … I suspect it’s gotta be this year sometime to upgrade to a 64 bit ,  Windows (ugh) 7 … must it be Microsoft – again?   Or at least a dual boot Ubuntu, or better yet a UNIX virtual session, or maybe a virtual Windows box.  I feel the pain, now what about gain!  Actually, I hope it’s not too soon to declare victory.  With RAM I might have expected to see more random run time errors than I have (working reason for failure … the problem is in a very low use part of the fixed memory, like a rarely referenced block of the registry). But I have new ram, and so far so good.  I wish me luck.


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