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In The Trenches: Reviving the Dead Windows 2000 Professional Page 3
Coming In Through the Back Door
With no other options that I could think of, I decided to do a fresh install of Windows 2000 Professional on another volume. That went without incident. After the installation was complete, I opened up the Windows Explorer and took a look around. It was not time to get up yet.
When I got into the fresh installation I took a look at the winnt\repair folder. The repair folder contains information that is used by the Emergency Repair program to restore the registry in the event of a disaster. Note the subfolder called RegBack. This folder contains the registry information you saved when you created your last ERD (if you explicitly told the program to save this information.) What would happen if I just copied these files to the \winnt\system32\config folder? I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
That did it! The machine restarted and everything worked as it should have. But the mystery remains as to why the key was not accessible, and why the Emergency Repair program was not able to find the installation of Windows 2000, even though the drive was quite readable, and all the registry files were in place.