This is a followup to a few other threads where users have described an association between this particular registry corruption and CSC. For example, https://forums.comodo.com/comodo_system_cleaner_fileregistryprivacy_cleaner/windowssystem32configsystem-t37903.0.html and https://forums.comodo.com/empty-t41245.0.html.
On many of the systems I’ve run the most recent versions of CSC ultimately result in this outcome.
At first, I thought there might be some effect from Symantec Antivirus Corporate Edition, so I began removing it before running CSC, but it made no difference.
Recently, I had four SP2 (service pack 2) systems which I intended to upgrade to SP3 (service pack 3).
Separately from this situation, CSC claims it will backup the registry, although it’s not clear what’s it’s doing here. It doesn’t seem to be creating a system restore point and it’s not clear even if it had, how one could revert it. Anyway, on the first reboot after running it, about half the time, it throws up a dialog asking to FINALIZE the changes. The other half the time, there is no dialog. In either case, the second reboot is the kicker. There are two basic outcomes, it either works or it either trashes the registry. When it works, there is no problem and the system is good. When it doesn’t, it may either result in the corrupted system registry hive at boot message or it may blue-screen at some earlier point.
On one system with SP2, after I ran CSC and rebooted twice, I was able to install SP3 and reboot, allow the SP3 postinstallation to run but when I logged in, it immediately blue-screened. At the next reboot, the system registry hive was corrupted.
On another system with SP2, I also rebooted twice after running CSC and tried to install SP3. It blue-screened during the installation. So I used system restore to get it back to the point before running CSC. Then I tried CSC again and tried installing SP3 in safe mode. This succeeded and it rebooted to run the SP3 postinstallation. On the subsequent boot, however, it failed to boot with the system registry hive error.
On a third system, the behavior was essentially identical.
On a fourth system, I wanted to run a test to see if CSC was really responsible, so I decided to upgrade it to SP3 first. This succeeded and I rebooted and it ran its postinstallation tasks, then I rebooted again and logged in. No problem. The system seems to be stable. So I ran CSC. I rebooted and presumably it finalized without prompting me. So I rebooted again. So far so good. I logged in. After about 15 seconds, blue screen, which was similar to the first case I described above. And again, I rebooted and was greeted with the infamous system registry hive corruption error.
I decided to restore this fourth system from backup, so right now I have access to an SP2 system that I believe will reliably become corrupted from running CSC and installing SP3.
By the way, all these systems are ordinary Dell desktops used by secretarial staff. The most unusual hardware is a wireless mouse.
I believe it is reasonable to conclude CSC is somehow damaging the registry such that SP2 systems are not affected by SP3 usually is. I have other SP3 systems affected this way, although I can’t say for certain they were installed that way or had once been SP2 and were upgraded at some point in the past. I suppose that is also a possibility.
However, I’ve had at least one system with SP2 that accepted CSC’s registry cleaning and upgraded to SP3 with no ill effect, so it can work, although this is uncommon!
I’m attaching the registry log from CSC from the third and fourth system described above. There is no guarantee, however, that CSC does everything the logs says or whether it does something missing from the log, but hopefully it’s helpful getting to bottom of this.