911 for damaged registry

Question: I have been getting a scary message when rebooting my Windows 95 machine. The following appears: “There is not enough memory to load the registry, or the registry is corrupted. Some devices may not function properly.” I have defragged, scandisked, cleaned up the hard drive and pored over Microsoft’s database online. One suggestion was to reinstall Windows 95, but, unfortunately, that is not working, either. When Windows 95 starts copying, I get a “Suwin” error message. So, I can’t even do that. The only other option I have thought of is to do the dirtiest deed: format c:, and I shudder at the thought of that! I do not own a tape backup and can’t afford to lose all my data. –Teri

Answer: You’d better sit down. The bad news is it looks as though your registry is indeed corrupted or damaged. The prognosis is not great.

The good news? There are a couple of methods that might put some life back into your registry, and using them is just barely more fun than a root canal. You see, it may be time for a registry transplant.

But first a little paramedicine. Try to reinstall Windows 95 the TechnologyTips way.

Despite your previous reinstall woes, try this instead: “If you cannot reinstall Windows 95 through a presently running version of itself, install it from DOS,” suggests Chrisptopher Salvador, a network administrator at Vicom Multimedia in Edmonton.

“If your reader can shut down to DOS and still access her CD-ROM drive, run setup from there.”

If that doesn’t work, copy the Win95 directory from the Windows 95 CD ROM to your hard drive (you’ll need about 33 Megs of disk space) and then run Setup from the DOS prompt. Simply start in DOS and type cd Win95, then type setup. This method will do three things, said Salvador.

“First, Windows 95 should install without any errors.”
“Second, when the installation is finished, it should have fixed the corrupted registry.”

“Third and last is it should keep most of the settings of the previous Win 95 installation intact.”

If that’s not possible, or you believed your doctor when she said this will only hurt for a moment, here’s how to to do a registry transplant:

Windows keeps a backup of the registry files which is kind of handy in this situation. It backs up the files “system.dat” and “user.dat” to files with the same names, but with “DA0” extensions.

“Every time Windows 95 successfully boots up, it makes a backup of those two files,” explained Mathew Fiszer, a technical guru at Edmonton CompuSmart’s west-end store. “If you are lucky, the DA0 files might contain a good copy of the registry files.”

Take the following steps provided by Fiszer:

Note: After each instruction that tells you to “Type:”, hit the Enter key.

  1. Start the machine in DOS mode. Type: cd windows
  2. Type: attrib -s -h -r system.dat
  3. Type: attrib -s -h -r user.dat
  4. Type: attrib -s -h -r system.da0
  5. Type: attrib -s -h -r user.da0
  6. Type: copy system.da0 system.dat
  7. Type: copy user.da0 user.dat
  8. Type: attrib s h r system.dat
  9. Type: attrib s h r user.dat
  10. Now reboot the system.

If Windows 95 successfully boots, you can breathe easy. If not, try taking the machine to your local computer expert for some trauma care.