Restoring desktop, personal settings after XP reinstall

OK, after yesterday's correct diagnosis of faulty memory, I put in some new memory and, after some coaxing, was able to boot from the XP reinstallation DVD. It hung for a *very* long time on "Setup is starting windows" (we actually went out for about an hour and left it) but ultimately went to the reinstall screens. Unless I was reading things wrong, I never got a "repair" option. In any event, I eventually did reinstall XP and the thing is running as if no additional programs (i.e. everything that was on it before) have been added. Blank desktop, base start menu.

However...all the previous programs are still there! How do I restore my prior desktop, or at very least (worst case) go one by one and get everything to the start menu, executing on startup, etc.? What about bookmarks and the like? The underlying files are still there, but they're not associating with the browser(s) (e.g. Firefox runs, but has no bookmarks).

Any clever ways to do this quickly?

 

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12 Replies
RobinBredin
5 Tungsten

Re: Restoring desktop, personal settings after XP reinstall

If you installed windows on your drive, without first formatting the drive, then you must have 2 versions of XP on one drive. You should have got the option to repair at the initial part of installing XP, you must have pressed Enter to install XP. But at that same window, you should have been given the option to choose what drive you wanted to install XP on. If you have a USB pen, then I would copy everything off you drive onto that, or use a cd-r. 

      

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Re: Restoring desktop, personal settings after XP reinstall

I'm reasonably sure I didn't get the option to repair -- based on other posts in this forum (and linked pages) I knew to look for it. Anyway, I also don't think I have two versions of XP; there's only one \WINDOWS directory on the C: drive, and a cursory look at the individual files therein all have yesterday's date.

I'm thinking I reinstalled XP *over* the existing copy, replacing it. But I got lucky -- it didn't erase all the stuff that was already on the drive (which would have happened if I reformatted the drive.

So now, for example, there's a full installation of Norton Internet Security -- but it's not part of the startup and has no taskbar or desktop icon. What I'm wondering is whether there's some sort of user profile left over from before I reinstalled the operating system that I could simply restore as the current user profile. (I'm thrashing about in the dark here, or at very best some very dim light. I know a little, but I admittedly haven't worked this deep inside Windows for a very long time.)

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Jeff Hoffman
4 Tellurium

Re: Restoring desktop, personal settings after XP reinstall

If the reinstall did just overwrite the OS your applications probably are not "installed" in  the "new" XP. If I understand you: the progam files are still there but don't work. Is that right? If so, pick a program that is on the HDD but won't run, reinstall it, what does it do now?

Jeff emoticon.Beer.title

XPS 8100 i7-860(8MB Cache, 2.8GHz), 8GB Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM @ 1333MHz, 750GB SATA 3.0GB/s 16MB Cache, nVidia GeForce GTS2401GB GDDR3, Dell ST2310 Full HD Widescreen Monitor, AverMedia G2 Combo hybrid TV Tuner, dual 16x DVD+/- RW dbl layer, Microsoft LifeCam Cinema HD, Running Windows 7 Home Premium, 64 bit. 

If your question is answered here on the forums; PLEASE post back! It may help another user.              

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Highlighted

Re: Restoring desktop, personal settings after XP reinstall

Thanks, Jeff. Yes, the program files are still there -- but based on Firefox (not part of the XP install), they still *do* work. If I go down the file tree in Windows Explorer, I can see all the program files from the previous incarnation of the computer. For Firefox, if I simply double-click the executable as displayed in WinExplorer, it starts up just fine. It's just not on the desktop.

Now, for Norton Internet Security, I started to reinstall and it detected the existing copy. I'll have to go back and see if its installation has a "repair" function; I don't remember. For Norton, however, I don't know what the main executable is or looks like, and clicking on the Norton shortcut item led to something marked as a "UI stub" and didn't do anything.

I'm thinking (hoping) that there's some *relatively* easy trick to getting the new XP to, as you say, "install" the programs, or to recognize them as installed. One idea I've had is to use the Files and Settings Wizard to "trick" the new installation into recognizing the old programs -- see if it will save the files and settings to a directory I set up on the same computer (calling it "old computer") and restoring them with the wizard (calling it "new computer"). It looks like there's an option for the "same computer" approach, but if not, I can always save it to some form of removable media. 

The question I'd have about this approach is whether the "settings" from the "old" computer still exist, or if they were overwritten when I installed the new OS.

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Jeff Hoffman
4 Tellurium

Re: Restoring desktop, personal settings after XP reinstall

The question I'd have about this approach is whether the "settings" from the "old" computer still exist, or if they were overwritten when I installed the new OS.

That's the $64,000 question. Do other programs still work? Generally speaking just having the files present isn't good enough. When you insatll an application settings are written to the Windows Registry etc. If the old OS was overwritten, those settings/info most likely no longer exsist. If you have the discs for your programs you can just reinstall them. That will be a pain and time consuming but it will get things up and running.

I don't know of any way to "trick" the system. That's not to say there isn't one but I tend to doubt it.

Let us know what is going on as you work on things please. We will try to help you and this thread may help another user in the future.

Jeff emoticon.Beer.title

XPS 8100 i7-860(8MB Cache, 2.8GHz), 8GB Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM @ 1333MHz, 750GB SATA 3.0GB/s 16MB Cache, nVidia GeForce GTS2401GB GDDR3, Dell ST2310 Full HD Widescreen Monitor, AverMedia G2 Combo hybrid TV Tuner, dual 16x DVD+/- RW dbl layer, Microsoft LifeCam Cinema HD, Running Windows 7 Home Premium, 64 bit. 

If your question is answered here on the forums; PLEASE post back! It may help another user.              

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dealerman
1 Copper

Re: Restoring desktop, personal settings after XP reinstall

Interesting this topic came up today. I recently have a system crash blue screen etc. Tried to reinstall OS from original CD and repair. No go...could not fix so I installed a new version under directory windows2. Now system boots up fine, moved all my files and docs over no problem but none of my programs will execute. They are all present under the old OS and unfortunately I don't have all the original program discs to reinstall under the new system. I am not a computer geek (no disrespect) but is there no way to copy the settings from the old system to the new system? Or could I try to use a program like Tune Up Utitlites to possibly recognize the issues and repair them. Last question...now that I have 2 operating systems, how do I uninstall the old system?

Many thanks.

 

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Jeff Hoffman
4 Tellurium

Re: Restoring desktop, personal settings after XP reinstall

Technically speaking: I think you have a mess. I know way to transfer the registry settings at this point. (or ever short of having a clone copy of the HDD) I don't know anything about "Tune Up Utilities" but I don't think you have anything to lose. Before you do anything else I would make a backup of any files that are important to you!! The greater the number of possible solutions you try; the greater the risk of tanking everything.

The surest way to get things straight is to partition and format the HDD and then install a clean copy of the operating system. Of course that will wipe out EVERYTHING. Without the discs for your applications............ You are stuck I'm afraid.

Bottom line: Backup what you can and give whatever a try.

One other possibility. You didn't post the model of your system or the age, you might have a "Recovery Partition." If you do it will not help with the vast majority of your applications or your personal files but it can restore the system to the same state it was shipped from Dell. Click the Windows button, type "disk management" in the box and see what you can see. If you have this option it will, by definition, wipe out everything added since Dell had it.

Sorry, I don't know any good answers.

Jeff emoticon.Beer.title

XPS 8100 i7-860(8MB Cache, 2.8GHz), 8GB Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM @ 1333MHz, 750GB SATA 3.0GB/s 16MB Cache, nVidia GeForce GTS2401GB GDDR3, Dell ST2310 Full HD Widescreen Monitor, AverMedia G2 Combo hybrid TV Tuner, dual 16x DVD+/- RW dbl layer, Microsoft LifeCam Cinema HD, Running Windows 7 Home Premium, 64 bit. 

If your question is answered here on the forums; PLEASE post back! It may help another user.              

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Jeff Hoffman
4 Tellurium

Re: Restoring desktop, personal settings after XP reinstall

Ooops. That should read "I don't know of any way to ........."

Jeff emoticon.Beer.title

XPS 8100 i7-860(8MB Cache, 2.8GHz), 8GB Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM @ 1333MHz, 750GB SATA 3.0GB/s 16MB Cache, nVidia GeForce GTS2401GB GDDR3, Dell ST2310 Full HD Widescreen Monitor, AverMedia G2 Combo hybrid TV Tuner, dual 16x DVD+/- RW dbl layer, Microsoft LifeCam Cinema HD, Running Windows 7 Home Premium, 64 bit. 

If your question is answered here on the forums; PLEASE post back! It may help another user.              

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dealerman
1 Copper

Re: Restoring desktop, personal settings after XP reinstall

Ok...guess I will have to format the HDD. Never done this before. Should I take my computer to a pro (or geek) or am I able to do this on my own and save some cash. I have a Vostro 1500.

Alan

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