My friend George (Error message unknown)
My friend Dave's mom (Error message: cannot find System32 files)
My friend Zombamazomba (Error message unknown)
Now, laptops fail all the time, but it's interesting that three people I know have had laptops fail in such a quick span of time. I'm betting there's something going around.
Now, I did manage to fix my friend's mom's laptop, which originally gave the following error upon startup:
The registry cannot load the hive(file):
or its log or alternate.
It is corrupt, absent, or not writable.
Beginning dump of physical memory.
Dumping physical memory to disk:"
In order to fix this, I first loaded the original Windows XP SP1 disc that came with a different computer and managed to boot from the disc. Then I accessed the recovery console and entered the following lines:
copy C:\windows\system32\config\system C:\windows\tmp\system.bak
copy C:\windows\repair\system C:\windows\system32\config\system
This allowed the computer to reboot as normal, recovering the System32 files it was unable to locate originally. I don't know what my other friends' problems are, but if they are related to this issue, there's the solution.
As for what's causing this, I'd like to say a virus, but it's unlikely. It's possibly some kind of rampant registry error common among these types of laptops.