Windows XP Crashed? Here's Help
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Now type Exit and watch your computer restart into Windows XP again. Be sure not to tell it to boot from the CD this time. But wait. That's not the way you had XP set up before this disaster struck! That's OK. We're in a lifeboat right now -- this isn't your comfy cruise ship, not just yet. Hang in there. I'm going to show you how to restore your system to the way it was the moment before you told it to install that errant application, or whatever it was you did, so follow along and we'll go to part 2.

Part 2
Here's where you'll copy the saved registry files from their backed up location by using System Restore. This folder is not available in Recovery Console and is normally not visible -- Microsoft is protecting you from yourself by hiding it from you and locking it away from you. But we have the keys. Before you start this procedure, you'll need to change several settings to make that folder visible:

1. Start Windows Explorer.

2. On the Tools menu, click Folder options.

3. Click the View tab.

4. Under Hidden files and folders, click to select Show hidden files and folders, and then click to clear the "Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)" check box.

5. Click Yes when the dialog box is displayed that confirms that you want to display these files.

6. Double-click the drive where you installed Windows XP to get a list of the folders. It's important to click the correct drive.

7. Open the System Volume Information folder. This folder appears dimmed because it is set as a super-hidden folder. If you're using the FAT32 file system, this will be easy. If you're using NTFS, it won't let you open the folder, but here's how to get around that: Right-click on that system volume information folder and select Sharing and Security. Then click the Security tab. (No security tab? Skip two paragraphs.) Click Add, and then in the box that's labeled "Enter the object names to select," type the name of the user that's at the top of the Start menu -- that's probably you. [Damn it, why do they say object names when it's people's names? I guess that's Microsoft for you.]

Anyway, make sure you type the name the way it's listed there on the Start Menu. I made the mistake of typing my first name only and it wouldn't let me in. Type first and last name if that's how it's written on the top of the Start menu. After you've typed that in, click OK a couple of times and finally that monster will let you in.

But what if you don't see a Security tab? Try this: Click to select the checkboxes in the "Network sharing and security" area -- one is labeled "Share this folder on the network" and the other is labeled "Allow network users to change my files." Change the share name to something short, like sysinfo. Then it'll let you in. After you're done with this entire rescue operation, you might want to go back and change these back to the way they were before, for maximum security.

OK. Now here you are, in the inner sanctum where only the high priests go. Be not afraid, all ye who enter here. As Microsoft so eloquently puts it:

NOTE : This folder contains one or more _restore {GUID} folders such as "_restore{87BD3667-3246-476B-923F-F86E30B3E7F8}".

8. Open a folder that was not created at the current time. You may have to click Details on the View menu to see when these folders were created. There may be one or more folders starting with "RP x under this folder. These are restore points.

9. Open one of these folders to locate a Snapshot subfolder; the following path is an example of a folder path to the Snapshot folder:

C:\System Volume Information\_restore{D86480E3-73EF-47BC-A0EB-A81BE6EE3ED8}RP1Snapshot

From the Snapshot folder, copy the following files to the C:\Windows\Tmp folder (you can use your mouse, you're in Windows now, remember?):
_registry_user_.default
_registry_machine_security
_registry_machine_software
_registry_machine_system
_registry_machine_sam

This is how Microsoft explains this: "These files are the backed up registry files from System Restore. Because you used the registry file created by Setup, this registry does not know that these restore points exist and are available. A new folder is created with a new GUID under System Volume Information and a restore point is created that includes a copy of the registry files that were copied during part one. This is why it is important not to use the most current folder, especially if the time stamp on the folder is the same as the current time."

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