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Full Restore to New Hardware

Last response: in Windows 95/98/ME
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June 17, 2003 6:08:16 AM

This one is tough, and will probably be complicated.

A long-time friend of mine lost his computer to an act of God. Fortunately, he has a full backup via Veritas's "Backup MyPC". He's asked me to restore a 98SE system in which he's spent years developing, evolving, & tweaking about a dozen apps; half of which he has no originals. He also didn't keep good notes. So he's anxiously looking for me to restore his backup to completely new hardware, which quite frankly is a daunting task.

I installed a fresh SE and Backup on the new unit. I performed a disaster recovery set on this clean system in order to have "do over" capability. Have tried the restore, then fired up in Safe Mode, emptied out Device Mgr, and rebooted. This did not work. BSOD.
There are obvious issues with the old System.ini breaking the windows configuration for one thing. And, the hardware and system settings from one Registry to another being completely different.

I'm guessing I'll have a few moves to make. First, only restore Win.ini & System.ini to a separate "test" directory; and then tweak them manually to incorporate the old with the new. Secondly, use these to replace those in the new machine. Thirdly, figure out a way to isolate out JUST the software and configuration part of the old Registry (after also doing an isolated restore of it), and merge this with the new Registry. This would leave behind the troublesome old System State. Then I would do a full Restore MINUS the two ini's and the old Registry. I just don't know how to do that Registry trick. If someone wouldn't mind explaining that one to me.

Those of you who followed all of that theory........do you think it would work? Are there other techniques I could try?

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June 19, 2003 4:20:16 PM

The BSODs are being caused because windows is trying to load the drivers for the chipset, graphics and such for the old computer and their not there. You can try restoring onto another hard drive and then put that as slave and transfer all the programs and such over to the new drive. As far as registry tweaks and such that will be alot harder and time consuming. You would need to open both registries in seperate windows and cut and paste between them. Just make sure that the referenced directories are the same for the programs. Be sure to do a restore point before each change and restart after each change to make sure it works. Sounds like you have your work cut out for you. Good luck!
June 20, 2003 8:19:41 PM

After a dozen or so attempts to accomplish a full restore to an entirely new hardware system, I finally figured it out over the course of 16-18 hours of soul-searching trial-and-error. I can’t believe this was a unique situation, and I’m thinking other guys may want to try this. I’ll lay all this out carefully.

First, prep the new computer. Setup a clean SE on the new machine, and then install the chipset, video, and sound drivers native to the new equipment. Get everything working perfectly. This means your BIOS is set the way you want as well: com and printer ports. Set up your printer. Install your backup program. In my friends’ case, I had convinced him to buy Backup MyPC a few months ago to work with his CD writer. Fortunately, he did one a week before his disaster. Then do a Disaster Recovery on this system so you have a quick do-over capability in case something goes awry. The only time spent here not a wash, is the D/R backup. 15 minutes.

Second, make a new directory called “test” on the C drive and restore only the old Registry (system.dat & user.dat), system.ini, and win.ini to this folder. Do a printout of only the new machine’s ini’s for reference. Go into both the old ini’s and comment out any entries that are specific to the old peripheral drivers (semi-colon in front of). Leave alone the operating system stuff. Now, referring to the printout, add any lines that are not in the old files into their respective sections. There won’t be as many as you think. In my case I deleted eight or nine, and added four or five. Do not worry about the embedding or compatibility stuff. Replace the new ini’s in the Windows directory with these reworked files. 30-45 minutes.

Third, we play with the Registry. One at a time, find System.dat and User.dat in the new machine’s Windows folder. Right click and remove read only. Rename them newsystem.dat and newuser.dat. In the test directory, move the old Registry to Windows. Go to Start – Run, and type regedit. You should be in your old Registry. Click HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT icon to highlight it. Go up to the Registry menu and export this branch to the “test” folder. Name it simply root. The export program will automatically give these a .reg ending. Click HKEY_CURRENT_USER icon and export; naming it cu. This next one, pay attention. Hit the + sign on HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and click the Software icon and export, name it soft. You must be careful that you are only copying the Software branch. Finally click HKEY_USERS and export, naming it users.
Leave the Registry. Go back to the windows folder. Rename system.dat & user.dat old. Rename the new Registry, that you got out of the way before, from newsystem and newuser to their original names. Go back to the “test” directory and merge the four reg files by double clicking and following the prompts. There is a little delay in the screen that tells you of success. Wait for it between each merge. This operation ADDS stuff to the new Registry; it does not overwrite. This is a beautiful thing. 30 minutes.

Fourth, go back to “test” and copy the files in there to a CD disc for possible use in a do-over scenario. You’ve done all the hard work. Save it.

Fifth, do a complete restore of your backup, MINUS the Registry and the two ini’s. You should not use a wizard. You have to insure that the restoration of those four files does not happen. When complete, go into Control Panel and remove your old installations of video, sound, and anything else not happenin’. Don’t restart until you’ve done all the removals.

Now reboot into your old desktop with any luck. I was fortunate to get that for my friend on the last of many attempts using the techniques I just laid out. Granted, there were some glitches that occurred. Device Manager and the Registry had to be cleaned up. I reinstalled 98SE to tighten up everything. And had to reinstall the new display after that. Everything works perfectly now. What are friends for?
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June 23, 2003 2:58:36 AM

I find myself asking, are my programs and data worth that much trouble? If it were me doing it for my own data, I'd probably just cut my losses; Restore the data to a slave drive and muttle through reinstalling everything else.

Nice little write-up though, very thorough.
June 23, 2003 4:05:27 PM

I did this for a guy who, I know, would charge Hell with a bucket of water to save me. It was worth it.

I agree with you in a sense. If it was me, I would have taken your approach. Thank you for the compliment!
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