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Hey, Bill (Cursorcowboy) I need you

by TONI H / November 5, 2005 3:41 AM PST

I'm working on a computer that hasn't been able to boot up...W98 (don't know yet if it's FE or SE). I managed to once get to the desktop but nothing was on it.

I booted to true DOS and tried to run the scanreg /fix command and got to 92% before it told me to delete some files on the drive and run it again.

I deltreed the TEMP and Windows\TEMP folders and got alot of space back (customer never cleaned house evidently), but before starting the scanreg /fix again, I did some looking around in the Windows folder and found the old USER.BAD file (none for SYSTEM.BAD though).

Memory rang bells about that file name. For some reason I'm thinking that after I attrib and unhide the system.dat and user.dat files, wasn't there a virus that would take good registry .dat files, rename them to .bad and screw you out of being able to boot after that?

I think it was a case of renaming the .dat files that are now unhidden to something else, then rename the .bad files back to .dat and you should be able to get back to the desktop.

I've searched the MSKB and it does mention a reversal of those steps for something to do with W95, but it doesn't indicate why you would do that (rename .dat files to .bad ones).

Can you help me out here and toggle the memory better? While I'm waiting, I'll now run the scanreg /fix command and kill some time. Thanks.


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C'mon Toni, ya gotta have a spare PC around...
by reefurbb / November 5, 2005 5:26 PM PST

First, sys C:
2.slave that Hdd, scan for viruses. Then look at space and cleanup, surface scan. Or then overinstall 98.
3. No spare PC? rename windows folder to windows.000 and Program Files to Program Files.000 and fresh install, load antivirus. Then look at 000 folders.
4. if you have bad ram or whatever, you'll soon find out. There's a reason (probably) other than viruses that OS got fudged.

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This is a computer
by TONI H / November 5, 2005 6:32 PM PST

a 20-year old friend got from somebody else and is going to college online with it. There are programs, such as Word, that she uses that came with the computer for creating her assignments, but doesn't have disks for, and wiping the drive would shoot her in the foot. I've been deltreeing some games folders, etc. that she'll have to 'do without' in order to get more space on the drive so I can get the registry corrected via dos (it gets to the last 7% and runs out of room on the drive).

My keychain harddrive won't work on her system in's an old Dell and not much is available to change in her bios for what boot sequence and there's no usb drivers available for it. My keychain needs to install W98 drivers before it's any good so I'm hoping to get to the desktop, even in safemode to see what documents, etc. I can salvage for her to that drive in case reinstalling W98 dumps stuff she needs.

I haven't got a clue about what, if anything, has been updated for W98 via MS, and she's trying to find her W98 cd to bring to me. I can get into the registry via dos to get her product code key to do the installation...still have Bill's notes about how to do that.

I'm looking through my old notes about the user.bad file I mentioned to make sure I can delete it since it's fairly large. Then maybe I'll have enough room on the drive to complete the repair of the registry system.dat file. The user.dat file is the one I'm pretty sure is trashed, but if a virus or something else did it, it would normally take the good user.dat file and rename it as user.bad and then take over its own user.dat file.

If I'm remembering right, and I was hoping for confirmation from Bill about this, you can rename the user.dat file that is corrupt to something else and then rename the user.bad file to .dat and be back at the beginning....then delete the corrupt renamed file.

I'm just trying to figure out a way to get back to the desktop right now and the user.dat file is the one, I'm pretty sure that has the user preferences stored in how you have it set....

I'll keep playing with it............There's not enough room on the drive to install windows to the .000 folder so an overwrite in place would be the only option other that wiping the drive and starting over. I will probably end up slaving it to my XP system and burning what I can to a cd. Haven't done it yet because I was doing some long awaited hardcore maintenance on my system yesterday while playing with hers. (I'm more into challenges than easy fixes as most people know about me by


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Wondering if
by Blue_Zee / November 5, 2005 7:48 PM PST
In reply to: This is a computer
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Re: MS Word
by Kees Bakker / November 5, 2005 10:19 PM PST
In reply to: This is a computer


She might be better off with a recent version of Open Office ( than with an older version of MS Office for her assignments. If she agrees, you can wipe MS Office, giving enough free disc space for the moment.
And doesn't the college she's going to offer some student license of MS Office (but that version might need XP)?

Then, a fresh install of Windows 98 (with the current productkey, very legal) might be a better solution than any fix you can do.

On the long run, it might be better to install a bigger hard disk or add a second one. I'm sure you've got something around for her for not too much money.

Hope this helps.


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This is that "no CD" problem?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 5, 2005 10:26 PM PST
In reply to: This is a computer

For Word I install Open Office and be done with it. If the owners don't own the CDs then that's just part of the PC lesson.

At least we can reinstall the OS and get the Word Processor going again.

The office has probably saved millions now with Open Office.


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The one you're remembering is . . .
by Cursorcowboy / November 5, 2005 10:29 PM PST

1. To restore the registry to its state when you last successfully started Microsoft Windows 95 MSKB Article ID: ''Q225040''

Note: I've always wonder about that file ''System.da0'' however as I've never seen or caught one for Win9x. Perhaps the system has to malfunction before one is created -- if at all. ??

2. However, we know the compressed backed-up registry x.CAB files (, where ''x'' can be 0 to 5) are stored in the \SYSBCKUP folder by default. When the computer is booted each new day, the next number is created, and after the default number (5) is reached, the older file is replaced -- each is pretty large. The article ''Error Message: Restore Operation Failed (Q220878)'' give the extraction process for uncompacting the cabinets.

3. Does ''Clean Boot (Q192926)'' give anything useful?

Note: Anytime that Windows Setup is run, the ''System.1st'' registry file (boot root) is also updated and may have information current enough to use but it unlikely since there isn't the User.dat companion.

4. For kicks, read the (hidden) ''SETUPLOG.TXT'' file located in the root directory. The last line in this file should end with ''COMPLETE''.

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by TONI H / November 6, 2005 12:58 AM PST

I managed to cripple the system into safemode....

Went immediately to Device Mgr and found 12 entries for a 'video camera device', six different harddrives listed, four cdroms (two are in the system physically), numerous keyboards, monitors, mice, com port duplications, lpt port duplications, and two video card devices listed.

I removed everything, rebooted the computer, got a Dell bios error saying it couldn't locate the Primary harddrive Disk 1.........which it was saying for quite a while already and I couldn't figure out why without opening the case to see if there ARE actually two drives but only one was there. Went into the bios, the drives are listed as Disk0 and Disk1....set the Disk1 to NONE even though parameters were showing up for it (a really antiquated bios by the way), and it started W98.

Got to where it reinstalled all the hardware correctly, and got to the desktop. Went to Add-Remove Programs and there must have been 50 freaking games installed. While waiting for a call back from Missy about what she wanted uninstalled (she said to take them ALL out) in addition to crap that wasn't necessary at all, such as AOL Communicator, MSN Messenger, Yahoo junk (she's on Sprint DSL).....I then ran her antivirus program (which wasn't set to run at startup and doesn't appear to have a 'real time' setting for the net and email checking but maybe it does it automatically without having a separate setting for's ANTIVIR free program).

The scan produced six trojans and one virus....all were removed....but I don't know how current the definitions are for it, so I told her to get it immediately upon getting back on the net later.

The harddrive is only a 6GB drive but she now has half of that back. I have a 15GB drive here that I told her she could have so I may be copying her drive to that one later if we don't go the clean install route. I also want to increase her 128MB RAM to double that if I still have the SIMMS to do it....I haven't checked closely yet, but I'm pretty sure it's SIMMS that she'll need instead of DIMMS.

This is a PII-450MHZ system......but already it's way better than it was yesterday.

Thanks everybody......Robert, I'll find out if she wants to dump Word and Works and get OpenOffice instead for school. I'll check with her also about saving anything related to the school ahead of time since I don't recognize what she needs yet.

Bill, I left the user.bad file in the Windows's 1MB in size just like the user.dat file is (there are no .da0 files listed) and although it says the create date for the .bad file is unknown, the modified and accessed dates for both the .bad and the .dat files are identical. It doesn't appear to be hurting anything now to keep it there.


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(NT) (NT) Good job, Toni :-).
by Kees Bakker / November 6, 2005 2:25 AM PST
In reply to: Update
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my don't need more ram..
by reefurbb / November 6, 2005 11:14 AM PST
In reply to: Update

1. BIOS Hdd set to "user" will still show CHS, set to "auto".
2. I run all my PII pc's on 64mb ram (till I run out). 128mb PC 100 or 133 is what's being sold "on sale" now.
More than 128 gets used but isn't much more useful.
3. Don't forget to go into Program Files and delete leftover folders.
4. Tell her also to do Adaware and Spybot as internet games ,and lots else, adds damaging spyware-malware. I've seen as many as 500+, 427 on a recent PC.
5. Antivir works well enough but update is a full download and reinstall of entire program, rather than increments. I went back to AVG.
6. Don't forget ZoneAlarm, Ccleaner, EZcleaner for registry.
7. 6gb is way enough for a W98SE hdd. It loads at 250mb and then up to 650mb with I.E.6.0, updates, and other security software.
8. once she gets it all fixed up, copy the hdd to your 15gb, repartition the 6gb into 3gb-3gb and copy whole OS back. That gives the second partition for complete backup of C: and room to save installation and other stuff.
Lots of work but worth it at some point.
9. at each step of messing, do start-run-scanregw to make a current registry copy in "sysbckup" so you don't have to start from scratch. "would you like to back it up again?" Yes

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by Cursorcowboy / November 6, 2005 9:16 PM PST
In reply to: Update

Good mess to clean up. Huh ,-)

I left the user.bad file in the Windows's 1MB in size just like the user.dat file is (there are no .da0 files listed) and although it says the create date for the .bad file is unknown, the modified and accessed dates for both the .bad and the .dat files are identical. It doesn't appear to be hurting anything now to keep it there.

No need to leave that file if it's anywhere other than the Sysbckup folder where there should be five such files eventually and used for "restore" -- situation should be corrected soonest.

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