Extract drivers from NON-BOOTABLE XP HD?

Posted on 2006-05-24
Last Modified: 2012-05-05
NOTE: I have used the program "My Drivers" to back up a currently running operating system's drivers. But below I'm talking about backing up the drivers for another person's PC, whose (non-bootable) HD has been temporarily transplanted to my own shop PC, as a slave drive. I don't think My Drivers allows backing up that HD's drivers.

I'm working with an XP Hard Drive which will not boot. I have tried many things to fix:

What I want to know in THIS thread: Is there a way to backup the DRIVERS from that HD?

to be clear:  I removed the problem HD from its PC and have temporarily installed it as a slave drive on my own shop PC (which can run either Win98 or XP).  The data on the problem HD is still visible (I have to view it's content from MY own PC's OS), but I can't make the problem HD bootable on its own.

Of course I can back up my own Win98/WinXP drivers (from MY OS installations, on MY PC) using My Drivers.

But how do I back up the OTHER PC's drivers? They are ON THE non-bootable HD (currently acting as a slave HD on my PC).

In other words, if I want to back up the user data (from the problem HD to my HD), and then (on the problem HD) reformat the partition, reinstall XP, and copy the data back onto it --
I'd also need for the necessary motherboard / video / sound / other drivers to be installed on it. So that when I put the problem HD back into the ORIGINAL PC, it will recognize all the devices.

Is this possible?
Question by:dgrrr
    LVL 9

    Expert Comment

    I understand but...Ick!  Much easier to download the latest drivers etc.  Especially if you going to format at anyway.  Installing drivers is not that big a deal.  Besides, installing the latest drivers may also cure some headaches.
    LVL 15

    Accepted Solution

    backup the drivers folder under \\windows\system32 manually.  Installed drivers and .inf files go to that folder.
    LVL 13

    Assisted Solution

    In other words, "if I want to back up the user data (from the problem HD to my HD), and then (on the problem HD) reformat the partition, reinstall XP, and copy the data back onto it"

    I would suggest the following which I use on my two pairs of drives. Being an engineer, I always worry that a HD will fail and I would be in deep trouble since xp is not as easy to fix as win98 in my opinion.

    This problem sounds simpler that probably it is. I may have interpreted it wrong. If so I appologize for my lack f expertise!
    I would install as C: drive your own working HD
    Next make the faulty drive a slave drive. Do not forget to move the jumper
    Next make a folder on the C drive called 'Database'
    Copy the data folders to the C: Drive. I would do this part with the client present to insure everything is copied. I have seen techs just reformat a drive without informing the client that it will erase all the data folders!
    Now with your cd rom burner which I assume you have, burn the 'database' to the cd roms.
    Reinstall the faulty HD as a master, moving the jumper.
    Change the bios to boot from the cd rom
    Fdisk, reboot, format NFTS
    Reinstall xp
    Change the bios to boot from the A: drive
    Copy the 'database' file to the C: Drive.
    Now configure xp pro to the client's wishes
    Check that everything is installed properly ie hardware.

    As a tech and wishing the best for the client, I would advise him to prevent problems in the future to invest in some hardware and software.

    First purchase a slave drive larger than the C: drive
    Purchase for 30 dollars Acronis True image from
    Install it for him.
    Instruct him how to make a HD COPY to the slave drive and that he needs to do it monthly. The slave drive will be bootable.
    Make an acronis boot disk for him
    When all the software is installed along with the 'database' instruct him how to do the HD COPY
    Download the following boot manager
    Install it on the C: drive
    Make when asked, although you do not need it, an uninstall floppy
    Now if the boot manager fails, which it may once every 6 months, the PC will boot to the C drive. All he needs to do then is uninstall the boot manager and reinstall it.
    The boot manager will appear allowing him to select the C: drive or the slave drive.
    Next tell him to do a copy and paste of the 'database' to the slave drive daily, by first erasing from the slave drive the folder and then doing a copy and paste from the C drive.

    Now if the C: drive fails, all he has to do is reboot the machine and choose the slave drive.
    When he has a chance he only needs to set the bios to boot from the Acronis boot disk and reinstall everything on the C: drive.

    Now your client will know that you have an interest in his welfare.

    LVL 9

    Expert Comment

    Pheew!  Ick!  Sounds like a lot of work and money!  Go for it!  I'll have mine done first...
    LVL 14

    Expert Comment

    as i stated in your other open thread on this topic
    which is a continuation of your other closed thread

    1) dosbased - read manually on how to run from dos, you need to access the system.dat file

    2) you need to extract the encrypted product key
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\DigitalProductId

    3) download & run keyviewer, copy & paste the key on the Raw Key tab to decipher the acutal product it

    Author Comment

    to friartuk -- your response seems related to my  "product key thread". Yes, my current situation has generated three questions, but they are separate questions.  This thread deals specifically with the issue of backing up drivers, FOR devices (vid, sound, etc) that are on a non-present box (it's somewhere else).  And I want to extrac the drivers from the non-bootable hd, which was pulled FROM that absent box.

    to all -- I have had very, very bad experiences trying to identify devices that have no labelling (especially dialup modems & nics).  OR finding drivers for identified devices. I spend hours saying, why, oh why, didn't I just back up the frigging drivers?  

    This is why I want to back up the drivers, jsut to be safe, in case I can't find the "new ones", or can't identify the devices.

    to davidis99 -
    Your answer sounds most relevant -- You mean backup the whole system32 dir, NOT just system32/drivers folder, right?

    Assuming I do that, and copy the contents to a new installation, into the same location:
    -- when it comes to files that are already there -- should I SKIP the file or OVERWRITE the one that's there?
    -- will the fresh OS find those inf / drivers automatically, or will I need to direct the wizard to that location?
    -- if the latter -- is there a way to identify which of the folders /files pertanis to a particular device?  (naming doesn't look intuitive)

    to Gonzal --
    Yes, I agree -- I'm always telling customers to have at least one large capacity external HD in the house, for backing up acronis HD images. OR better, a second HD for each pc.

    But this thread is about saving the drivers from a non-bootable copy of windows. But saving the data could incude the system32 folder, as davidis99 is suggesting (see above)
    LVL 15

    Expert Comment

    backing up the entire system32 folder, including subfolders, woulddoit, though you would be getting files from applications that install to system32 as well.  The drivers folder, in and of itself, would give you all the needed .inf files, and allow you, upon examination of those files, to download the appropriate driver installations and perform fresh installs.
    LVL 9

    Expert Comment

    Mine was done, up, and running a long time ago!

    Author Comment

    davidis99 --

    OK, thx. Now I know this last question is a bit crazy -- but if I were to do something nuts like install fresh windows on a fresh partition on "Joe's" hard drive, transplanted into my own PC -- and I then put "Joe's" hard drive BACK into JOe's PC -- it probably wouldn't boot up, because the motherboard drivers would be wrong, right?

    But assuming it did get to the desktop -- If I had "backed up" the "system32" dir of JOe's HD before the reformatting, and I had also copied this folder over his "fresh" system32 folder -- Would the new install (+old sys32 folder) even boot, AND would it find the right drivers?

    And what about if I did the fresh install on Joe's PC, AND then I copied the old system 32 folder over?

    Because this is more questions, I'm adding points.

    Author Comment

    I am assigning the points now,altho I haven't tested the answer yet -- because the pc owner brought the actual box so I was able to do a reinstall and use the drivers from the manuf website.

    I know that this is what "AndreDekolta" was suggesting -- but my interest was in learning about alternatives, so I'm awarding the points that way.  

    So I haven't actually tried using files copied from system32. I will, but don't know when -- so I will file this info and keep it for future use -- and maybe let you guys know how it goes.


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