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Zugg
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Joined: 25 Sep 2000
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Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 10:00 pm   

No new version this week (blame Vista)
 
I could write another Blog article about this, but I'm too pissed.

Vista crashed today. Some sort of lockup that required me to power-down the computer. When I restarted, Vista didn't load my user profile. Instead, it gave the infamous "A Temporary Profile has been created..." nonsense. When making a backup of my previous user profile, it gave an I/O error when trying to copy the previous ntuser.dat file. I copied everything except this file, then recreated my user profile, and then restored the files.

It's a really good thing that I actually *copied* all of my existing /users/myuser files. Because I also renamed the old /users/myuser directory to /users/myuser_bak. But when I rebooted Vista and let it recreate my user profile, it didn't just create a *new* directory named /users/myuser...it actually renamed and OVERWROTE the /users/myuser_bak file. Probably had some hard link to the directory instead of just using the directory name itself. If I hadn't made a backup copy of the files in this directory, I would have lost EVERYTHING (and been even more pissed).

However, the ntuser.dat file is VERY important. None of the sites that talk about recovering your user profile seem to mention the fact that this file (which you never copy when recovering a profile) contains all of your user-specific system preferences. When you recreate your user profile, you lose ALL of your user-specific settings!!!! And since Vista overwrote the /users/myuser_bak, I can't even try to access the old ntuser.dat file to try and recover part of it.

OK, stuff like desktop background etc I can deal with. But here's the bad part...ALL of the Delphi preferences (like what 3rd party components are installed, etc) are stored in this user-specific registry file.

This is EXACTLY WHY I HATE THE WINDOWS REGISTRY!!!! If software was allowed to store user preferences in application-specific *.INI files, like the old days, then we wouldn't have the problem of putting EVERYTHING into the damn system registry. Microsoft claims that they use transactions for modifying this database so that it can't get corrupted. That's *bull*. Powering off the computer when Windows is hung shouldn't cause the registry to get corrupted like this...EVER.

The only way I seem to be able to recover from this is to open a previous version of NTUSER.DAT with RegEdit and then export the keys that I need for various software, and then try to import that into the new user profile registry. You can't just copy the backup of NTUSER.DAT to the current profile...Vista refuses to load it and again creates a temporary user profile. It says the old profile is "corrupted", but it really just means that it is "inconsistent".

I have no idea how long this is going to take to fix. It was really the last straw. I'm so stressed these days that I just want to throw all of our computers out the window and move somewhere where they have never heard of computers.
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wrym
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Joined: 06 Jul 2007
Posts: 349
Location: The big palace, My own lil world

PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 10:58 pm   
 
I feel for you Zugg.
I'ld say I don't know why companies/programmers buy into the Microsoft way but i think we know why they do.

These days user settings is actually a pretty stupid idea imho. It's computers to user ratio not users to computer, and everyone uses same computer 99% of the time. .ini or .xml config/settings files would be much easier to backup and transfer.

Unfortunately, i understand the need for a centralized library of where what is in the case of COM and a good number of windows settings. That said, windows registry sucks for most any reason you can pick.
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jed
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Joined: 18 Dec 2005
Posts: 246

PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 1:49 am   
 
I know nothing about the registry problems, but "somewhere where they have never heard of computers." would be here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYJKd0rkKss I suggest renting it "Alone In The Wilderness".
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seamer
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Joined: 26 Feb 2001
Posts: 358
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 5:07 am   
 
If Windows has already crashed, powering down wouldn't affect anything.

I'm surprised a software vendor like yourself hasn't come up with a decent backup solution either, without being able to vouch for quality there are heaps on the market to play with - both free and paid for. Something must strike you as being worthwhile, surely? (Infrequent reader, I don't game as much as I used to since I entered the game design world)
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Rainchild
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Joined: 10 Oct 2000
Posts: 1551
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 5:28 am   
 
I had that happen to me once but can't remember what I did to fix it now. It was very scary at the time, I thought I would be reformatting my entire system. I did manage to get it all back somehow, I should have saved that web page just in case it happened again... it turned out to be a simple fix, but I can't remember what steps I had to take, sorry.

With .NET, XML config files are coming back in a big way - it's the preferred way of saving settings these days, although you can still use the registry if you write your own code rather than using the automatically generated XML files. Doesn't help for not .NET apps, but it could be considered a step in the right direction.

Still, that does leave pretty much all native apps using the registry which is annoying.
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Fang Xianfu
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Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Posts: 5155
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 9:56 am   
 
Seamer: he does mention making a backup of the user data, it gives an I/O error. And even if it had, it looks like Vista won't import an old ntuser.dat anyway.
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slicertool
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Joined: 09 Oct 2003
Posts: 459
Location: USA

PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 11:15 am   Re: No new version this week (blame Vista)
 
Zugg wrote:
I have no idea how long this is going to take to fix. It was really the last straw. I'm so stressed these days that I just want to throw all of our computers out the window and move somewhere where they have never heard of computers.


It's called Pennsic. You know when. You know where. ;)
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Rahab
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Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2307

PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 1:33 pm   
 
But Pennsic is only 2 weeks a year. We need an entire country called Pennsic.
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ReedN
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Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 1279
Location: Portland, Oregon

PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 2:14 pm   
 
To combat things such as this I take an image of my programs drive when I have everything setup. Data is kept on a separate drive. If anything ever happens to the system drive I just restore it from the backup. Since data is on a separate partition it is unaffected by a program drive restore.
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seamer
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Joined: 26 Feb 2001
Posts: 358
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 3:15 pm   
 
Fang Xianfu wrote:
Seamer: he does mention making a backup of the user data, it gives an I/O error. And even if it had, it looks like Vista won't import an old ntuser.dat anyway.


I don't think copying a folder to the same computer with a new name of an appended _bak should be the suggested solution from someone who writes/develops/sells software as a living :)

All the backup solutions I ever looked at almost required a back up to to be stored on a remote computer/server/external device, which all help against what happened here. What zugg had done is take cash from his wallet and put it in his pocket, and is now upset a mugger looked in the pockets as well as the wallet.
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Zugg
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Joined: 25 Sep 2000
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Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 5:03 pm   
 
Quote:
I'm surprised a software vendor like yourself hasn't come up with a decent backup solution either, without being able to vouch for quality there are heaps on the market to play with - both free and paid for. Something must strike you as being worthwhile, surely?

Hey Seamer, do you think I'm an idiot? Of course I have backups. I have tons of backups. But the NTUSER.DAT file is one of the files that you cannot backup with most software. Windows has this file locked. Even an image backup of my entire Windows Vista partition errors about once every few weeks because of problems with locked Vista files. Never had a problem in XP, but Vista has a mind of it's own. I use software called Acronis, which is a very good and popular image and file backup solutions.

If you had read my post carefully however, you would read that even with a backup of the NTUSER.DAT file, you cannot simply restore it. Even if you log into a different admin account and try to restore the other users's NTUSER.DAT file, when you try to log into that user, Vista will detect that the user profile is corrupted (inconsistent) and create another temporary profile.

The only way to use the backup file is to open it as a separate hive file in RegEdit and then go through and export the keys you need and then import them into the live registry files.

Copying the file to a _bak directory was an *additional* precaution on top of the backups that I have.

Quote:
But Pennsic is only 2 weeks a year. We need an entire country called Pennsic.

Yep, and I'd be one of the first to move in.
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seamer
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Joined: 26 Feb 2001
Posts: 358
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:12 pm   
 
I never said you were an idiot, I only expressed curiosity at so much effort in the user profile being lost so easily. I'm one of those Vista users who've had the same installation since Vista was released, without needing to do any repairs/reinstallations or whatever else to fix the OS.

At the same time, after using 98ME and its predecessors I've also gained the habit of not being too tied to my user profile (XP was more stable, but not as much as Vista so far). If I lost delphi configs the way you did, I'd just tell delphi to piss off and look for an alternative. That wouldn't work in your case, but since you're using Acronis and still having image backup/restore issues I'd also either bug them to fix it or look for an alternative. There are some solutions that power down to a restart+dos box and backup from there so all files are available without the OS saying 'haha no, its locked sucker'.
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Zugg
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Joined: 25 Sep 2000
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Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:32 pm   
 
Quote:
I'm one of those Vista users who've had the same installation since Vista was released, without needing to do any repairs/reinstallations or whatever else to fix the OS.

Lucky you. Just Google the problem and you will see many many people who have experienced the same issue with corrupted profiles. Just because you haven't had computer problems doesn't mean that others don't have problems. Just because you've never personally lost a hard disk, do you think that hard disks don't fail?
Quote:
If I lost delphi configs the way you did, I'd just tell delphi to piss off and look for an alternative.

Like what? Microsoft Visual Studio is even more tied into user profiles than Delphi. And what...am I supposed to spend two more years rewriting CMUD in some other language like Java just to get away from Windows issues? Are you willing to pay me for the two years of work that it would take? Of course not.
Quote:
but since you're using Acronis and still having image backup/restore issues I'd also either bug them to fix it or look for an alternative.

You haven't understood a word that I have written and your posts are starting to frustrate me as much as the original Windows problem. Did you read me already saying many times that I *did* have a backup? Yes, Acronis fails every now and then because of Vista locking issues when backing up the live windows partition. But that doesn't mean I don't have a backup. I've already said multiple times that having a backup in this case doesn't matter because you cannot restore it. No backup software can restore the NTUSER.DAT file. If you restore it, Windows won't load that user profile anymore because it thinks it is corrupted. You have to manually use RegEdit to export/import keys, which is what I'm spending today doing.
Quote:
There are some solutions that power down to a restart+dos box and backup from there so all files are available without the OS saying 'haha no, its locked sucker'.

If you think *anyone* would take the time to do that on a regular (daily) basis, then you are crazy. Backups are useless unless they are current. And to be current, they need to be automated.

In any case, I'm going to stop reading this thread now because it's just pissing me off. Next time I just won't bother posting about my Windows problems and will just leave everyone wondering why the next version of CMUD gets delayed.
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seamer
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Joined: 26 Feb 2001
Posts: 358
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 8:55 pm   
 
I think you overlooked what I said about finding an alternative to Delphi - I do believe I said in your case it's unfeasible.

Software can be frustrating, and text does not convey the intent behind the questions I've asked. I can sit here and say 'crap, Z lost time on the cmud build' or I can say 'what can we do to prevent this happening again?'.
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Rainchild
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Joined: 10 Oct 2000
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 2:25 am   
 
I found the blog post that helped me back in the day -- http://cherrybyte.blogspot.com/2007/07/fixing-user-profiles-in-vista.html

I'm pretty sure it was just a matter of setting that refcount and state to 0, then windows thought the profile was OK again and resumed working. Not sure if that will help in your instance, apparently that hasn't fixed some folkses problems.
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Zugg
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Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 3:32 am   
 
Yep Rainchild, I actually found that link in my searching about profile corruption. And yes, I did need to run RegEdit and remove the .bak from the profile name.

Today we were out interviewing various new cats. But on Tuesday, I did get most of my user settings restored. At least for Delphi, Dreamweaver, and my PhpEd program. The PhpEd program actually lost it's entire license key data and I had to get a new license key for it, but it's working again. Dreamweaver lost all of it's "site profiles" and various user settings. But I got those all restored.

As mentioned, I just did one program at a time by exporting from the old ntuser.dat and importing into the new file. I didn't touch anything in the "Microsoft" registry tree, so I ended up setting all my Outlook preferences again manually (fortunately it just connects to our IMAP email server and doesn't do anything local). I'm sure there are settings in Microsoft Word that I'll have to change again manually (like turning off various auto-reformat options). But I can do those as needed.

Delphi was the most complicated, but I've got CMUD compiling again, and I verified that my Armadillo and NSIS Install programs all work again. I'll be bug fixing Thursday and Friday but I'm not going to try to rush any release.
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