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Getting 'Windows can not access the registry' error message

On a Windows 98 SE computer with a clean install and new drivers, I get the error "Windows can not access the registry, Windows will now shutdown and attempt to repair the registry on startup." This error happens randomly and sporadically. I have changed the hard drive and installed new RAM and cleaned installed Windows twice and the error persists. Have you encountered this before and what is the solution?

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There are two elements left I can think of that might cause random and sporadic problems like this. The first is the power supply -- yes, the power supply! An overtaxed power supply (or a poor-quality one) that can't consistently provide power to the system can be a source of extremely difficult-to-trace problems like this. If you are using a 350-watt power supply or less, I'd recommend having it upgraded to 400 or better. Most systems built today start with a 450-watt power supply, actually.

The other remaining element in this equation is the motherboard. Problems with a defective motherboard are just as random and sporadic, and can come from aged components or buggy BIOS. If a newer system BIOS is available, try downloading it from the motherboard maker's Web site and flashing the system with it.

This was first published in May 2005

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