Win 9x - Making ScanReg see all your backups

There are two versions of ScanReg: one runs in Windows, and the other runs in DOS. The Windows version of the Registry Checker Tool (scanregw.exe, or ScanReg for short) doesn't give you many options - it merely scans the Registry for problems and, if it finds none, offers to make a Registry backup for you. The version that runs in DOS (scanreg.exe) does a bit more, though not much. For example, it shows you a list of recent Registry backups and restores the one you choose.

To see how this works in Windows 98, reboot your computer, press at the startup screen, and then press <5> to choose the "Command prompt only" option. Once you reach the C:> prompt, type scanreg and press . Follow the prompts on screen to have ScanReg analyse the Registry. If ScanReg doesn't find a problem, it will present you with a "Good Registry" screen; choose "View Backups" (or press ) to see a list of recent backups. Unfortunately, ScanReg can't show you more than five backups - regardless of the number of backups that ScanReg has made in the past. This is a flaw in ScanReg.

Good news: Microsoft fixed this flaw in Windows Me. The bad news is that the Me operating system has an equally troubling situation: the start-up menu no longer includes an option for booting to a command prompt. If Windows Me is already running and you choose Start-Shut Down, you won't see an option for booting to MS-DOS mode. Thank you, Mr. Gates. If you need to make repairs using ScanReg from the DOS prompt, you'll have to boot your computer using the startup floppy disk you were prompted to make during installation. If you don't have one, choose Start-Settings-Control Panel and double-click Add/Remove Programs. Then click the Startup Disk tab and follow the instructions.

To work around the ScanReg glitch in Windows 98, you have to trick ScanReg into showing you the five backups that you would like to see. At the command prompt, switch to the folder containing your backups by typing cd c:\windows\sysbckup (your path may differ) and pressing . Type dir rb*.cab and press to see all the Registry backups and their dates. Using this information, decide which five backups you want ScanReg to show you, and rename the rest. For example, if you know is an outdated backup, type ren rb004.bak and press . Repeat until only your chosen five backups have the .cab extension.

Now you can type scanreg /restore in either Windows version to view your backups in ScanReg. (This command line is a shortcut that bypasses the other screens and takes you directly to the backup list.) If you are in the throes of an actual emergency, you can use the arrow keys to select the backup you want, and press to restore it. ScanReg will do the rest and prompt you to restart your computer when it's done.

On the other hand, you may not need to boot to a command prompt to restore a damaged Registry. In many cases, Windows will start even if the Registry is nearly kaput. Before you visit the DOS prompt, start Windows Explorer and open the Windows folder. You may need to click Show files (Win 98) or View the entire contents of this folder (Win Me) to see any files. Either rename your existing Registry files (System.dat and User.dat) or move them to another folder, just in case you make a mistake that ends up doing more harm than good.

If you don't see these files, choose View-Folder Options (Win 98) or Tools-Folder Options (Win Me), click the View tab, select Show all files (Win 98) or Show hidden files and folders (Win Me), and click OK. Locate one of the backup Registry .cab files in the Sysbckup folder (within your Windows folder), and double-click it. As long as you haven't installed software that reassigns the .cab extension, the selected backup Registry .cab file should open in its own folder window.

Select System.dat and User.dat, right-click one, and choose Extract. Designate the Windows folder and click OK. (If you didn't previously move or rename the existing Registry files, or change their read-only attribute, nothing will happen because the Extract command will not overwrite read-only files.)If you're using an application such as WinZip, double-clicking the .cab file will open that utility; use it to extract the System.dat and User.dat files and place them in the Windows folder, then restart your computer. If something goes wrong during the process, repeat one of the preceding methods using another backup from a different .cab file.

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Scott Dunn

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