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Can I import programs and settings from a KOed XP?

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Service Pack 3 killed my XP. I reinstalled a virgin copy of XP, and it killed that too. So I'm pretty sure I have hardware that is SP3 allergic (and it's not the attached USB devices like one page suggested, I unplugged them and XP continued in its unending 'marching squares' phase- it has to be something else).

I now have a clean install of XP that I will definately not be installing SP3 on, and I have a dead XP with 200GB of programs and settings I'd like to copy over. Is there an easy way to copy over all my old programs and settings?

(I may regret asking this.) If not, is there a hard way?

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OK to make matters worse, Microsoft Update downloads but cannot install the 90+ incremental updates for Windows XP.

Any help with this problem would also be appreciated. Maybe I need to install SP2 first? <---- complete guess

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Sigh...

Sorry for stating the obvious, but are you reformatting, or are you just repairing, or (worse), "leave the file system as-is" and "deleting" the existing Windows installation?

Because, well, it seems like you're not familiar with the concept of "slaving", and you're not implying that you've got two or more hard drives or partitions. So, for your case, that means that if you've formatted, for all intents and purposes your stuff is GONE. If you haven't formatted, then I suggest you first back up those programs that you want to back up (*onto an external drive*), then reformat. Find your programs' information in \Program Files, and the settings for those programs (as well as your old documents, etc) in \Documents and Settings.

But first, the answer to the big question... HAVE you reformatted, and are you using more than one hard drive...?!

edit: Don't do Windows Update anyway. Slipstream SP3 into your XP disc, reburn, and reinstall. If you want to use SP2, use RyanVM's Update Pack. Every single update you apply (and that includes all of SP3 if you install it after installing Windows) essentially slows your system down as it keeps track of all the updates you've applied. Even "Automatic Updates" itself is a huge drain on system resources as it eats up 100% CPU for minutes on end trying to "figure out" what updates you need. Just slipstream SP3 into your Windows install using nLite, burn, and reinstall. :P

Edited by Volatus

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Sorry for stating the obvious, but are you reformatting, or are you just repairing, or (worse), "leave the file system as-is" and "deleting" the existing Windows installation?

Doh, I should have mentioned this in the original post. I tried repairing XP and that solved one problem (the perpetual "loading windows" screen) but when Windows loaded my screen went black, maybe because of corrupted drivers (and this was happening when I attempted to boo into Safe Mode too). Because of this and other minor problems I'd been having I decided to give up on fixing XP and went to reinstall XP Pro.

When I reinstalled I did so on the same partition but in a new folder, so my old Windows directory should still be intact.

Because, well, it seems like you're not familiar with the concept of "slaving", and you're not implying that you've got two or more hard drives or partitions.
If you haven't formatted, then I suggest you first back up those programs that you want to back up (*onto an external drive*), then reformat. Find your programs' information in \Program Files, and the settings for those programs (as well as your old documents, etc) in \Documents and Settings.

I have multiple hard drives. All my data is on one drive, all my programs and operating system is on another and my backups on a third. I'll follow your advice and backup my existing programs partition and then reformat.

edit: Don't do Windows Update anyway. Slipstream SP3 into your XP disc, reburn, and reinstall.

Never heard of this slipstream thing before but I looked it up on the web and it seems doable; I'm willing to try it as long as Microsoft allows me to do another install of XP. If I recall correctly that there's a three install limit on using the XP Pro product key... I won't be able to install reinstall XP again so no slipstreaming for me.

The big question, the one I posted about... is how do I absorb my settings from my old XP into my new XP? The Program Files directory has stayed the same but I need the registry and any other files/settings my programs stored in the old Windows.

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Your settings are stored in any of these places:

(I use "Users" in place of that darn "Documents and Settings" name which may be different)

C:\Users\Yourname\Application Data

C:\Users\Yourname\Local Settings\Application Data

C:\Users\Yourname\NTUSER.DAT

C:\Windows\System32\Config

The first one (Application Data) is where many programs are finally beginning to learn to store their data. You'll find your Firefox profile, uTorrent settings and data, and several other applications' stored information in there.

The second one (Local Settings\Application Data) isn't as widely used and is mainly used for temp data (since Local Settings itself is mostly just a temp folder anyway, ironically enough). Look in the above one first.

The third one (NTUSER.DAT) is the user registry for your account. It stores user-specific registry entries and is where you'll find most of your other settings, but it can't be opened by the "naked editor". To open it, you have to shoehorn it into your existing Registry temporarily using awesome software like Runscanner (complicated, but it works - the only command line option you _really really_ need is "regedit" I believe, it'll prompt for the rest), then poke through your "slaved registry" and find your necessary data. Whatever you do, don't just plop down your old user registry into a new computer!

Finally, the fourth one (Windows\System32\Config) is your system registry, and stores the remaining system settings and operational information (the heart of Windows). You can use that to retreive program installation data and serials, etc... and I believe you will need that in order to use Runscanner anyway. Good thing to have on hand. I believe "ntoskrnl.exe" and "ntdll.dll" are used by Runscanner to detect the presence of Windows in a folder, so if you are just keeping that folder, be sure to keep those files from System32 as well, and maintain the folder structure.

Program Files really just holds the actual executable programs, no settings. If you've lost the installation media, Program Files still has the program data sitting there waiting for you... most of the time, at least. Games are very, very good about not storing data outside their program folder, so they should just "bolt right up" to your new XP install. Office applications are the worst. Your mileage may vary (YMMV)!

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You comment on how SP3 seems to kill your computer. What model computer do you have and what processor? Just wondering if it's the HP/AMD bug that's HP's fault.

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I have a HP computer but w/ a Pentium 4 processor. No AMD for me. In case you're really curious about my hardware I'm attaching my system info to this post.

Volatus, thanks for the info! I will try copying my settings over once I've finished backing up my system partition, and report back with the results.

wynand_building_info.html

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I realized I have have one more activation left so if I want I CAN reinstall. Um, one question though.

The third one (NTUSER.DAT) is the user registry for your account. It stores user-specific registry entries and is where you'll find most of your other settings, but it can't be opened by the "naked editor". To open it, you have to shoehorn it into your existing Registry temporarily using awesome software like Runscanner (complicated, but it works - the only command line option you _really really_ need is "regedit" I believe, it'll prompt for the rest), then poke through your "slaved registry" and find your necessary data.

How do I 'find my data'? I can't poke through the registry entry by entry... there 10 thousand entries or more.

If I can't import the registry whole cloth I'd be better off reverting to an old backup and/or reinstalling my programs.

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I got tired of waiting for a reply so I decided to try an experiment. I copied the setting directories mentioned upthread and pasted them into a clean install of Windows. The monitor blacked out when I booted it up. It looks like my settings are part of the problem. :( It goes w/out saying I can't copy my settings over without killing XP.

At this point I think I should just restore from the backup, and if that doesn't work reinstall my programs one program at a time.

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I realized I have have one more activation left so if I want I CAN reinstall. Um, one question though.
The third one (NTUSER.DAT) is the user registry for your account. It stores user-specific registry entries and is where you'll find most of your other settings, but it can't be opened by the "naked editor". To open it, you have to shoehorn it into your existing Registry temporarily using awesome software like Runscanner (complicated, but it works - the only command line option you _really really_ need is "regedit" I believe, it'll prompt for the rest), then poke through your "slaved registry" and find your necessary data.

How do I 'find my data'? I can't poke through the registry entry by entry... there 10 thousand entries or more.

If I can't import the registry whole cloth I'd be better off reverting to an old backup and/or reinstalling my programs.

It CAN be done, but you won't be able to import entries wholesale. I use Registry Workshop for this sort of thing, but if you aren't quite familiar with hives and what entries are where, you can get yourself into a whole world of hurt. I like parallel installs myself, the second one should be on another drive, ideally, need only have minimal functionality. A Bart PE disk is another alternative for troubleshooting a totally unbootable system or have a second system to install the original boot hard drive as a slave. You can then use your choice of registry applications to fix things. Registry backups are available if you haven't wiped them all out by now. You can copy/rename hive files to get older versions active, this is where booting into a parallel install works. I do this one hive at a time to find where the bad entries are. Registry Workshop can mount two versions of the same hive and do comparisons, too. Saves rolling through those "tens of thousands" of entries.

Probably what you SHOULD have done is a recovery point before SP3 and a rollback when it crapped out.

Stan

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That sounds complicated, error prone and time consuming. I think I would be better off restoring from my backup.

::restores from backup::

Ok, now I have C:\Windows back in the condition it was 6 months ago... should be working fine. But my clean install of XP (C:\win_XP) is still the Windows that boots. What do I need to do to make C:\Windows the directory that boots up?

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Bad news. My backup was not as complete as I thought it was. ;_;

Looks like I'll have to start over from scratch. From now on I test all my backups as soon as I make them.

At least I can test out that slipstream thing you guys recommended.

Thanks for all your help.

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