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  1. #1
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    Digging into an old registry

    Following a reinstall of Windows onto a new HD, I find a need to dig out some old registry values from the old installation on the old HD. These values belong to a program called Password Safe which holds lots of important info in encrypted form. All the files are intact, but when I run the program now, it only wants to create a new "safe" and doesn't recognize that there's an old one sitting in the same folder. I can see new entries under HKEY_CURRENT_USER in the new (actual) registry, all with default values not set, so I figure if I can get these values from the old registry I might be in business.

    Help greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Digging into an old registry

    Hi Alan:
    Since you know what key you're looking for, why don't you run regedit on the old hard drive? Navigate to the proper key & choose File/Export... Then you go to your new hard drive & merge the changes. I would definitely back up the new registry AND export the key from the new registry first. Then, if anything goes wrong, you can restore the registry.
    Hope this helps,

  3. #3
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    Re: Digging into an old registry

    Thanks muchos Phil. I didn't know whether trying to "regedit" anything other than the "real" registry .DAT files might cause some sort of explosion, meltdown etc. <img src=/S/meltdown.gif border=0 alt=meltdown width=15 height=15> How exactly do I point regedit to an old copy of the registry on another drive? (Both old & new drives are running together on the new box). I was thinking that there might be 3rd party software that could open any old registry in treeview format for viewing. ???

    I'll certainly take your advice and try to make backups of the new registry, as well as readable archive copies of the old ones, if that's possible. Turns out that all the Password Safe program wanted was a new "safe" to get it "seeded" and from there I was able to open my old one from a File -> Open command... [phew!]

    Still, it's sent home the message of having something readable as a backup/ archive. I examined the old .DAT files in a text editor and I could see the values I needed, but had no idea of what their keys might have been, where they belonged etc. So it was pretty useless in this form.

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    Re: Digging into an old registry

    Edited by Phil Rabichow to add last paragraph

    Hi Alan:
    I hadn't realized that both were on the same computer. I'm guessing that regedit points to system.dat & user.dat in the Windows folder. I will tell you that I just renamed my user.dat to user.olddat & back again. I was thinking that perhaps if you renamed user.dat to user.olddat, moved the old user.dat into Windows & then ran regedit.exe that it would show you the old values. HOWEVER, having never done this, I would be worried that I would do something that would destroy my computer. I do a lot of experimenting on my own computer, but I'd hate to be responsible for screwing up yours.

    Theoretically, if you couldn't reboot after screwing up user.dat, you should be able to restore it by using scanreg /restore when booting up. If you know how to use DOS commands (I know very little), you could reboot to a DOS prompt & rename user.dat, then copy the old user.dat to the Windows folder. Then regedit should be able to see it. Then you go back into DOS & change it back again (after exporting the key you want).

    Wait!! I just found this discussion where someone recommended downloading Resplendant registrar. I have never used it & $45 seems like a steep price.

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    Re: Digging into an old registry

    I suspect that the software mentioned is capable of editing the registry of a networked computer, just as regedit is. The site describes this as "Remote registry editing" and I don't think that this would "do it" for other .DAT files on the same computer. It's odd if such a tool did not exist, even if it's just a viewer capable of parsing the file and displaying results in a tree view.

    Edited - I located the following info on regedit. Maybe this would be a way of doing it?

    Regedit Command Line Options
    Regedit has a number of command line options to help automate it's use in either batch files or from the command prompt. Listed below are some of the options, please note the some of the functions are operating system specific.

    regedit.exe [options] [filename]

    filename Import .reg file into the registry
    /s Silent, i.e. hide confirmation box when importing files
    /e Export registry file
    e.g. regedit /e file.reg HKEY_USERS.DEFAULT
    /L:system Specify the location of the system.dat to use
    /R:user Specify the location of the user.dat to use
    /C Compress [filename] (Windows 98)

    By using
    regedit /lwindowssystem.dat /rwindowsuser.dat /e D:windowsoldreg_D.reg

    I might be able to generate a readable copy of "what was".


    Alan

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    Re: Digging into an old registry

    Good find, Alan. Where did you find the command line options? When I try to see them by typing:
    regedit /?
    all it does is open regedit.

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    Re: Digging into an old registry

    That looks like a lot of trouble to go to,,,to me. I will stick with the Recovery Console. Are how about a Registry backup Image.

  8. #8
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    Re: Digging into an old registry

    Well, there is no Recovery Console in Winders 98. Scratch that option!
    -Mark

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    Re: Digging into an old registry

    Whoops,, forgot which forum I was in. <img src=/S/bingo.gif border=0 alt=bingo width=15 height=22>

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    Re: Digging into an old registry

    Phil,

    Yes, I got the same result with regedit /? - maybe it's considered too potentially dangerous for general usage. The most complete documentation I could find is here. I haven't tried it yet, but it looks like the goods. I guess the danger may lie in the rebuild, using the /c switch, which will destroy the existing registry in the process. Another good article, containing a step-by-step batch file procedures, is Learn to rebuild the Windows registry from DOS.

    Alan

    Edited - I decided to try this, using a batch file which only exported the old system.dat and user.dat files. I tried to run it from a DOS box, but no joy. I restarted in DOS mode, fired the batch file, and it ran... and ran... and ran... After a coffee and watching the late news it was still running - plenty of unceasing disk activity throughout. Half an hour after that, it earned itself a 3-finger salute. The export file was created but was empty. Now I need to know if this thing was actually doing anything or just going round in circles. The .DAT files were 5.5MB and 2MB. Could anything possibly need this amount of time to process these, in whatever manner? I turned off their hidden attributes, but left them as read only - not that it should matter. What's your opinion Phil?

    Edited Again - Looking at this situation more closely, I think that regedit will inherently pick through .DAT files and effectively rebuild a corresponding registry in the form of an exported .REG file, all ready for import. That is to say, I don't think it is a tool that will allow making a "blind" export of any old .DAT files without getting rid of incorrect entries, discarding dead links etc. This is probably why it was taking so long to do its thing. From what I have found so far, there's no way to circumvent this repair & rebuild behaviour. I may need a differnet tool for the job, if one exists at all.

  11. #11
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    Re: Digging into an old registry

    Hi Alan:
    I read the article, but decided not to try it since I have a perfectly good registry. I think that having your user & system.dat read-only prevented it from working. The article says that the registry is destroyed in the process & making it read-only prevents modification.

    And regedit won't allow get rid of incorrect entries, although the article says that it's method will get rid of corrupt keys. I use regclean, Easy Cleaner & used to use Power Tools (which has a registry cleaner), but the latest version stops working after awhile.

    You can also rebuild the registry by booting to a DOS prompt & typing

    smartdrv.exe 8196 16<enter>
    scanreg /fix /opt<enter>

    Not quite sure all it does, but it does make the registry smaller.

  12. #12
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    Re: Digging into an old registry

    Phil:

    I probably didn't explain what I did very well. I only used the export line of the batch file to make a .REG version of the old system.dat and user.dat files. I didn't attempt to create any kind of new registry. This is why I thought the read only attributes would have had no effect. This aside, I'd imagine that just about everything in the old files would now be pointing to invalid items, since the old C: drive is now D:. All I want is a readable record of "how it used to be". Any information I glean from this would be entered into the current registry by the "normal" means.

    I use the same tools as you (+ RegSeeker) on my "real" registry, but this doesn't enter into the current matter. I will give it another shot after unsetting the read only bits on the old .DAT files and see if anything eventuates.

    Alan

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