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  1. #1
    Lounger
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    To Reinstall or Not?

    First of all, I am a novice when it comes to operating systems.

    I have a WinNT PC which started with SP4 and is now up to SP6. I had misfortune while attempting to uninstall an old version of McAfee VirusScan. Long story short, it did not uninstall correctly and until I can get rid of it totally I cannot install a new version of McAfee, nor have I been able to clean things up with Norton System Works 2002 so the computer is completely unprotected from viruses. It also gives an error message on startup that says at least one service or driver failed on startup. I can click past this and continue with no obvious problems. Yes, I contacted McAfee and got at least a dozen 'tech support' email messages on how to edit the Registry to fix the issue. I followed them to the letter and none worked. Since I have a second computer I have ignored the problem for about a year but now I have a need to use that computer to load Office XP.

    My question at this point is whether there is any way to take the Registry back to 'virgin' status without having to reinstall the operating system and therefore all the software to run the hardware components? [I have a partitioned hard disk, zip drive, CD drive, floppy drive, NIC card and multimedia card.] I do have an emergency repair disk from 2 1/2 years ago before things went bad. Might this be of any help?

    Any guidance would be sincerely appreciated.

  2. #2
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: To Reinstall or Not?

    I don't have an NT machine in front of me here, so I'm going based on memory. Check the %systemroot%REPAIR directory to see what backed up registry hives are in there. I don't know how long ago the problem started as you didn't specifically state it, but I believe the very first "virgin" registry hives are kept there until you format. The repair disk that you have should also be of use, although if you didn't back up the user accounts there you will likely lose them.

    I would personally bite the bullet and start fresh, just to be safe - but disaster recovery from the original registry hives may do the job for you. The system hive may be all you need to get back into working status. I've used parallel installations (provided you have the space for a fresh install) to gain access to the inoperable NT installation in the past, since NT doesn't have that wonderful innovation known as the recovery console. If you're not using NTFS, you should be able to boot with a floppy and perform the surgery as well.

    When I'm near an NT box at the office tomorrow, I will investigate further - but hopefully this will give you a starting point.

    Good luck,
    -Mark

  3. #3
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    Re: To Reinstall or Not?

    Mark,

    Thank you for your response. I will try to provide further information, but as I stated in my previous post, I'm truly a novice so I'm not sure what information would be relevant for you to help.

    The problems with the failed McAfee uninstall started in Oct 2001.

    I found the c:Winntrepair folder and it has several files in it from when I bought the system 31 Oct 97 and several more from 6 November, 2001. Since this is just a home system I don't care about any user accounts. All critical data has been backed up and/or moved to a different computer.

    I confess that I am not familiar with the term 'hive' which will probably tell you how far in over my head I am. I do appreciate your help and will look for a further response tomorrow.

  4. #4
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: To Reinstall or Not?

    Novice? NT? You're either a masochist or very brave. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15> Seriously, it may look evil but remember first and foremost that these contraptions were designed and built by people who put their pants on one leg at a time, just like you and I. It really comes down to how much time and effort you're willing to expend to save your existing installation of WIndows NT.

    Given the date the problems began, you deserve an award for perseverance and patience. <img src=/S/bravo.gif border=0 alt=bravo width=16 height=30> <img src=/S/fanfare.gif border=0 alt=fanfare width=31 height=23> In the repair folder, look for files that are dated prior to the inception of your problems with McAfee. The key components there are:<UL><LI>ntuser.dat (For the current user)
    <LI>SAM (Security Accounts Manager, where user profile and security information for them lives)
    <LI>SECURITY
    <LI>SOFTWARE (Installed software configuration)
    <LI>SYSTEM (This is where the hardware configuration, device driver mappings, and other low-level stuff is located, and probably what is causing you grief)[/list]These are your "hives" - individual files that make up the Windows NT system registry. I'm looking at these on my XP machine, which is NT based, so I can't promise that you will see all of them. However, you should see that they are grouped by date. You may also see subdirectories here, such as "backup" or by another name. They are hidden files, so you may need to tell Windows Explorer to display hidden files in View - Folder Options on the View tab. You cannot restore these while Windows NT is running, it must be done from a command ("DOS") prompt or by installing NT parallel and accessing the original installation, which by default is in WINNT. If you choose to restore any of these hives, I would try restoring (copying) the SOFTWARE and SYSTEM hives into their original locations: WINNTSYSTEM32CONFIG....after backing up the originals, of course. Otherwise you may wind up with a non-booting system.

    Since you have your critical data backed up, you may find it far easier to start with a clean installation. NT can be installed into a different folder, which you select during the setup process, which negates the need to format the hard drive - and once it's running, you can easily copy data from the old, gummed up installation to the new one. If you choose this option hit the Internet and get updated drivers for all of your hardware.

    You may also want to consider that as of December 31, 2002, Windows NT is no longer a supported product. This means that Microsoft, for all intents and purposes, is not planning to issue updates and fixes for it. XP is somewhat pricey and probably won't run on the hardware you have in that machine, but Windows 2000 may. Keep that in mind as you decide which course of action to take....and post back with any questions or comments. <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>
    -Mark

  5. #5
    Platinum Lounger
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    Re: To Reinstall or Not?

    This may or may not match your situation, but after the Klez-H virus had infected a friend's PC (six months since they'd last updated their virus patterns...), and they'd got rid of the virus, and tried to reinstall Symantec/Norton AntiVirus 2003 - it just wouldn't install. Absolutely nothing they tried would enable the install.

    I considered that this was probably due to old registry entries lying around, and suggested they use Regcleaner (<font color=blue>after having backed everything up, of course</font color=blue>), and remove anything which appeared to have something to do with the previous Symantec/Norton antivirus installation. They did this and [tada!] (what, no TADA smilie??), they were able to install AV2003!

    To cut a long story short, you might be able to do the same thing, but for McAfee?
    <font face="Script MT Bold"><font color=blue><big><big>John</big></big></font color=blue></font face=script>

    Ita, esto, quidcumque...

  6. #6
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    Re: To Reinstall or Not?

    Thanks for the idea John but been there done that and for this jammed up mess it did not work.

  7. #7
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    Re: To Reinstall or Not?

    You're a very nice person to give me the benefit of the doubt. I'm neither a masochist (not by choice at least) nor brave. At this point I'm just desperate enough to force myself out of denial to deal with it for once and for all. If I had the money for yet another computer I would vaporize this NT piece of filth.

    After remembering that there was one more batch of data files (very fat email folders) that I needed to get off the NT machine, I found that I still could not transfer files to the other computers on my mini network (new D-Link router) even after rebinding everything to everything. That's a whole other painful story but the upshot is that since there's so much that's screwed up on this machine, I'm thinking now that reinstalling WinNT might be the best approach.

    Do you know of a clear, well written document 'out there' that will walk me through this whole process? I can certainly put the WinNT CD in the CD drive and choose reinstall (or whatever comes up) but what will I need to do and in what order to make all my hardware be recognized and functional afterward? Will the CD drive continue to function throughout or will I have to come up with some sort of drivers for it on floppies so that I can use the install CDs on everything else? Clearly I've never done this before so don't have any idea what to expect. Thanks again for all your help.

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