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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    Data Intact -- but Windows is not!

    ARGH. My new computer, no more than a couple months old, is having problems. Last time all was fine, but this morning, I find that Windows is going batty on me. I can't create text documents, my system settings, such as my desktop backgrounds, icons, and quicklaunch bars, no longer work, or are not there anymore.

    However, it appears that my data is still intact. How can I repair windows, re-install it, etc, without losing my information? Is there an easy way out of this that I'm not saying? Sorry to ask for help like this, but I am truly desperate.
    Last edited by TWTCommish; Jul 12, 2001 at 08:58.

  2. #2
    Freelance Web Designer KeithMcL's Avatar
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    You can install windows again without having to remove the old version of windows.

    Simply rename the "Program Files" folder to something like "Program Files.old", rename the windows folder in a similar fashion and then do a search for win.com and rename that also.

    Then boot up from your windows CD and off you go.

    Another alternative is to partition your drive and copy all your data to the new drive and then reinstall windows.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    What if I can't rename anything?

  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Is your drive partitioned as NTFS or FAT32?

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    differently saned russbellon's Avatar
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    this may be to simple, but have you maybe logged on as a different user previously? that would lose your custom shortcuts, desktop settings file associations etc if you logged on differently after that. also, if you are reinstalling with a full version of windows (as a last resort) you should only have to rename the win.com file (from dos prompt type "ren c:\windows\win.com c:\windows\win.old") and then redirect the install directory to windows instead of windows.000 (assuming it was installed to the default path previously)
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    James: I have no idea.

    Russ: no way...only one user, default, and it still wouldn't explain all the nonsense I'm going through. I cannot rename anything at all.

    I have a WinME reinstallation CD -- I think it came with my computer. Will reinstallation wipe my data out?

  7. #7
    differently saned russbellon's Avatar
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    not sure about winme (i still use 98se) but i wouldn't think that a reinstall would wipe your personal data out, only give you a clean windows install, you would probably have to re-install most of your apps though. unless you format your drive first (don't, there's almost never a valid reason for it).
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  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    I'm confused -- if my data would likely be left intact, why would I need to reinstall any programs?

  9. #9
    Prolific Blogger silver trophy Technosailor's Avatar
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    BACKUP your data to a floppy, Zip drive or CD. I would format and reinstall windows clean. I have had problems like this and had to do so. If you use a CD, when you restore your data, you may have to make sure that you go in and uncheck Read-only in the file properties.

    HTH.
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  10. #10
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    Sketch, I hate to be rude here, but I've mentioned several times that I cannot do anything within Windows for the most part. I cannot create text file, I cannot rename a desktop icon, I can't open the Start Menu, I can't open any folders or programs. As you can see, it's quite frustrating.
    Last edited by TWTCommish; Jul 12, 2001 at 10:01.

  11. #11
    differently saned russbellon's Avatar
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    you would have to re-install apps because your windows registry settings would be clean (that is, they would no longer contain the keys that reference your software, shortcuts, personal settings etc.). when i said your data would be intact, i meant any files you yourself have created (graphic files, html pages, word processor documents etc.)

    But i may not know what i'm talking about with winme, it may re-use your previous registry files (system.dat and user.dat with win9x, assuming it's the same with ME) in which case your problem would likely persist.

    Just realized: i don't think ME even has a DOS prompt? so the ren command wouldn't work. Sorry man, i don't feel so helpful now. someone who is more familiar with ME should help. Sketch? (although i do disagree with regards to formatting, as unless a drive is thoroughly trashed (cross-linked) or you want to change from fat32 to NTFS, i wouldn't format)
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  12. #12
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    ME has a dos prompt, but I can't get to it through Windows, because I can't get to anything through Windows right now. It's usually under the Start Menu...I use it from time to time.

  13. #13
    Mlle. Ledoyen silver trophy seanf's Avatar
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    Can you create a new icon on the desktop?

    If you can put the following in it and try running system restore :

    C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\RESTORE\RSTRUI.EXE

    Sean

  14. #14
    Prolific Blogger silver trophy Technosailor's Avatar
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    TWT, you need to use your WinME startupo disk and boot to DOS. Then copy your data onto floppys. FDISK the sucker and start anew. I've done it, dude. You CAN do that.

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  15. #15
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    What WinME startup disk? I also have roughly 20GB of data -- I cannot put that on floppy disks, sorry to say. I am also not familiar with FDISK. What I really need to know at this point is whether simply using the Reinstallation disk that came with the computer will restore my system without messing up my data.

    Sean: sorry, doesn't work...no new icons.

  16. #16
    Prolific Blogger silver trophy Technosailor's Avatar
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    TWT,

    I do not believe you will be able to reinstall WinME without a clean format. Also, when I say data, I don't mean all your applications. I mean, your word files, excel files, your web design files, etc. All the files you have generated...your data! back that up. Also, you should have had a startup disk created when you installed WinME. If not, you can do it now...if you still can in Windows. Go to Control Panel | Add/Remove Software | windows tab |Create startup disk.

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  17. #17
    Prolific Blogger silver trophy Technosailor's Avatar
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    Also, you WILL have to reinstall all your programs. FDISK is the means to partition and clear your hard drive. you could also, at the DOS prompt (that you got to from a bootup disk) type format c:/s. Once you do this, reboot your PC with your WinME CD in the cd-rom and the windows reinstallation begins...

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  18. #18
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    Why do you think a clean format is the only way? I hate to be contrary, but I've asked several people, and they all agree that a reinstallation should be just fine.

    I realize what you mean by data, but I have gigabytes upon gigabytes of that as well. Backing up via floppy disk is totally impractical, not to mention the fact that I still cannot get to a DOS prompt. And, as I said, I can't get into anything like the Control Panel either to make a startup disk.

  19. #19
    Prolific Blogger silver trophy Technosailor's Avatar
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    Okay, dude...take a step back and breathe....

    My opinion is just that and I really don't appreciate you biting my head off about it. Never in my 25 years of life on earth have I heard of 20 GIGS of dataon a single PC except for a server. Maybe I just haven't been out enough.

    About reinstalling, I don't give a crap what you do! If you can get Windows running again fine, do it. But remember, your registry will be cleared, which means you have to reinstall all your apps anyways. To me it's easier to just start clean since you'll have to reinstall apps anyways. But perhaps you are right about trying that way if you can't get your data back. It's kind of hard to know without being there.

    Let me also add, that in my main job, I am a certified PC tech for the federal government and have been for 5 years. I think I know a little about this stuff. However, if you insist on being antagonistic to me, I'll step back. I need your crap as badly as I need a heart attack.

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  20. #20
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    My apologies. I'm sure if you put yourself in my situation, you'll see how frustrating this all is. Perhaps I should have been more clear on things. To summarize, I really cannot do anything with my PC right now.

    As for 20 gigs: even 1 gig would be too much to backup via floppy disk. I am not doubting your skills, I was simply frustrated with having to repeat myself a bit, and was quite surprised with the suggestion to backup via floppy. Perhaps, next time, I ought to make it all crystal clear.

    I than you for your input nonetheless, and I hope you don't take serious offense at what I've said. That was not my intent.

  21. #21
    Prolific Blogger silver trophy Technosailor's Avatar
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    okay, perhaps I should have been more clear about the floppies...obviously that is a last resort. I myself have close to 1.2 Gigs of personal data and I know the ridiculousness of trying to backup to floppy. But if I was in your situation, and I have been whether you believe it or not, if you can't use a zip disk or a CD rewriter to back data up, then floppy can get some of the critical files...although evryone knows all data is critical.

    I guess my sufggestion would be go and buy a copy of Partition Magic. I don't know if they have different versions, but I have a copy that is on a floppy and self booting and can be run from both Windows and DOS. Create a 20 Gig partition and transfer your data (in DOS) to that partition. Wipe your C: drive and reinstall....that's my simple suggestion. If you have 20 GB of data, $50 for Partition Magic should be worth it. Next item of importance is regular backups. TWT, I don't know you and I don't know your computing practices, but I backup all of my data to 2 CD's every single week. I leave my PC on when I go to church and let the CD's burn away. When I get home, I have a fresh backup. If I have a problem, and I have had many many MANY problems with Windows and have wiped my system more times than I can count on my hands, then I never have to worry too much about lost data. If I know ahead of time that I am wiping, I backup. If something unexpected happens (whiuch it rarely does) that forces me into a situation like yours, I have not lost that much data. 20 Gigs will take awhile. Maybe you can find a second hard drive or something to backup that data on a regular basis.

    Just my opinion.
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  22. #22
    Prolific Blogger silver trophy Technosailor's Avatar
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    About the WinMe Startup disk...you should be ablke to do the same with a Win98 startup. If you need one, PM me, I'll create one and mail it to you.

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    Aaron Brazell
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  23. #23
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    I appreciate the suggestions, but the thing here is that I can't afford to wait to get things up and running again. I'm kind of short on time. As a result, I think I'm going to go ahead with the reinstallation, hoping that my data is not lost. Once I'm back up and on my feet (either with my restored data, or by making due without it), I plan to upgrade to Windows 2000 and get a more consistent backup schedule in place.

    You are right about the floppies in at least one way: it can be used to backup truly critical files. However, I just can't get into DOS...if I could, I'd probably try to backup my outlook.pst file, though it's awfully large for a floppy disk (maybe 15-20MB)...I'm not quite sure about how to handle spreading it over multiple disks.

    Any suggestions before I begin this journey?

  24. #24
    differently saned russbellon's Avatar
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    2nd HD is a great idea should be <$100 US and worth it to back up your data, of course you would still need full access to windows to use it for that purpose (unless you get a retail WD drive that come with a utility that will mirror your old drive) because anything you copy in dos will get truncated (8.3) file names, and i don't think recent versions of windows come with xcopy. I still think the best solution would be to find out what's causing your problem (no error messages or other symptoms that you can describe?) as reinstalling is a last resort (only had to do that once in my life) and formatting is an postlast resort (never had to do that in about 12 years of using <sarcasm>bill gates finest</sarcasm>)
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  25. #25
    Prolific Blogger silver trophy Technosailor's Avatar
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    What OS is on the PC you are using now? You could create a startup on that...hmmm? Sorry, I'm on this, bvut you need to get into DOS to back this stuff up. You have to be able to find someone who has a PC that you can create a startup disk on. Once in DOS, type fdisk and follow instruction (but read very carefully, on creating another partition. Create a partition big enough for your data, pray, and copy the data onto the new partition.

    sketch
    Aaron Brazell
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