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Registry personal and program settings preservation

Posted on 2000-04-30
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Last Modified: 2013-12-28
Let's say I have a 27gb hard disk, partitioned to C, D, E, F, G.  Let's say I have 300 programs installed, some installed to C, some to E, some to G, etc.  Let's say I've been using this PC for 2-3 years, and I have spent hours and hours customizing my desktop, file associations, favorites, bookmarks, etc.
Let's say I have swapped motherboards, and added a new video card, and swapped sound cards, yet I keep the same hard drive, and now left over drivers are conflicting with the new drivers, and the entire system is now unstable and you feel the best thing to do would be to delete the entire \windows folder and reinstall Windows from scratch.

Question: Is there a way to preserve all of one's program associations, desktop icons, bookmarks, favorites,...everything that I have personalized over the years so that when I reinstall Windows, I don't have to reinstall of my 300+ programs and spend hours (days?) re-tweaking my preferences?  Is there a tool that will backup, export, etc all of the non-system related registry entries so that they can be reimported once I have reinstalled Windows 98?
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Question by:Monroe406
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6 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:micro66
ID: 2764445
Unfortunately, all of us have been looking for such a program, and, to the best of my knowledge, there isn't one.

Generally, when you swap motherboards, you have to reinstall the OS.  Occasionally, you can get away with just installing it on top of itself.  Some folks advocate going into Safe mode and deleting all hardware, rebooting, and hoping Windows will recognize everything and install only what it really needs.  Frankly, in my experience, either I don't need that step because the system worked without major work or that step doesn't fix it all.

Best I can offer, beyond the above, is to resolve in the future to arrange programs separate from OS separate from data files.  This makes backups easier and somewhat isolates the OS so you can reformat and do a clean install; however, it doesn't save those thousand little tweaks you did.

Truth is, as painful as it may be, cleaning out everything periodically isn't a bad way to go.  It's likely that you really aren't using all 300 of those programs, but, like me, you don't want to give up something that you might need sometime.

What I do is copy my old windows folder and all of its contents to a different partition from c:.  I then wipe out windows on c: and reinstall.  Subsequently, when I need to run an application (minor ones, like shareware), I try it without having reinstalled to see if it'll work.  If not, it frequently will tell me what's missing (a .dll).  I go to the old windows\system (usually) folder and find that .dll and copy it to the new windows\system folder.  Sometimes it takes several trips.  On major programs (MS Office 97, for example), I just reinstall it on top of where it already is.  That sets all the registry settings, but my preferences and templates are still intact.

By the way, if you find a way to do this without all the pain, let us all know!!
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by:micro66
ID: 2764454
By the way, from that "saved" windows folder I mentioned above, you can copy some of your personalized stuff right back to the new windows folder, so you don't lose everything.  There just isn't any way I know of to save it all at one time, registry settings and all.
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by:sorgie
ID: 2764653
I tend to agree with micro66 but
Before you reinstall and since you seem to have hardware problem try using regedit from the start run command line.

Open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
Delete the ENUM folder. This folder has all hardware setting for your computer.
Reboot and let windows reset your hardware.  
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Expert Comment

by:reghakr
ID: 2764662
I wouldn't suggest exporting and re-importing the registry. There is no question that there are some invalid entries in your registry.

Obviously there are errors in your hardware configuration in the registry.

I would suggest exporting some registry entries from your most used programs.

And micro66 is right about the Windows directory. Your INI files are safe to copy back after you re-install.

Save your Favorites, fonts, cursors, media folders from your Windows directory.
Check your C drive for everything.
Go to ControlPanel>Network, write done all settings.

reghakr
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Accepted Solution

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chev earned 195 total points
ID: 2764995
Did you try going in safe mode and removing all your devices from device manager ? This is common from where I come from.. Let the OS redect all the devices and reapply your drivers from there on this works..
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Expert Comment

by:Kapusta
ID: 2765005
>>Did you try going in safe mode and
>>removing all your devices from device
>>manager ?



Yes I did, but my problem now is that it is impossible to get a sound card working with the new motherboard.  I've tried 3 different models of soundcards, and none of them will play any WAV or MP3 files with this Tyan Trinity motherboard.  When Itry playing a WAV file, the player sticks at 0:00 seconds, and never makes any progress.

I am tempted to return the new motherboard for a look for a different manufacturer, and fear that 3 different motherboards in less than 3 days is sure to wreak havoc on the Registry.
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