Question Is there a file in Windows XP that stores hardware information that you can access without having to boot up the hard drive?

Jan 23, 2020
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The title probably sounds very confusing so let me explain my situation. I have an old installation of Windows XP backed up, it cannot boot as the computer it was originally on got thrown out. I want to know if there is a file somewhere in a place such as the Windows folder or the system regestry where I can find that computer's hardware information such as the processor, memory, motherboard and everything else without having to somehow get the drive to properly boot again.
 

Remeca

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Aug 30, 2019
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It should be in the registry, located in Windows\System32\Config\software.sav

You'll need to google how to open it, but it shouldn't be too convoluted on W10.
 
Jan 23, 2020
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It should be in the registry, located in Windows\System32\Config\software.sav

You'll need to google how to open it, but it shouldn't be too convoluted on W10.
Thank you for telling me that! I did find the file but I looked it up and I couldn't find any easy way to open it. It needs a specific program to open which I'm not sure how to use. Do you have any idea of what else I could do?
 

Remeca

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Thank you for telling me that! I did find the file but I looked it up and I couldn't find any easy way to open it. It needs a specific program to open which I'm not sure how to use. Do you have any idea of what else I could do?
That's the only place I can think of it would be stored. I'll see if I can figure out how to view it verbosely tomorrow.
 

ImWolf

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Mar 18, 2019
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How did you "back up" the Windows XP install?

If you used something like a disk image, then you can only restore the image to a system with the same hardware.

I doubt anyone can edit any system files to compensate for different hardware, drivers, configuration and settings..... you probably need to do a fresh install.
 

USAFRet

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Mar 16, 2013
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Discovery of the original hardware config:

Is this to build up a new system exactly the same as the old?
or
To modify that info to work with all different hardware?
or
Other?


Either way is almost guaranteed to fail.
As above...what are you actually wanting to do?
 
Jan 23, 2020
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I have the Hard Drive backed up on a disk image. I still have the physical hard drive and it works fine. What I want to do is get the same hardware and see if I can get the hard drive to boot again. I know in some ways the idea might be a longshot but since I will use the same hardware it should theoretically work fine. I already know what most of the original hardware was from memory but I wanted to see if there was something that contained the information so I could be sure about what it was, as it has still been a few years since I last used the computer.
 

USAFRet

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"it should theoretically work fine "

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.
In practice, however...


Finding the exact parts list from an ancient XP level system? Good luck.
What is in this drive that has sat around for several years, and is also irreplaceable, and that needs it to be bootable?
 

ImWolf

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Why don't you just do it?

Restore the image and see if Windows starts up.... the slew of "found new hardware" and the exclamation marks riddling Device Manager will give you most of the information you seek?
 
Reactions: aldan
Jan 23, 2020
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Why don't you just do it?

Restore the image and see if Windows starts up.... the slew of "found new hardware" and the exclamation marks riddling Device Manager will give you most of the information you seek?
I tried on another system and it didn't boot. I think it has something to do with the motherboards having differnet Intel chipsets. I know the hard drive works because on a fresh Windows XP installtion on another hard drive I could read from it and write to it just fine. I am going to get the motherboard that I know it was originally installed on, I will try to boot it and see what happens from there.
 

USAFRet

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I tried on another system and it didn't boot. I think it has something to do with the motherboards having differnet Intel chipsets. I know the hard drive works because on a fresh Windows XP installtion on another hard drive I could read from it and write to it just fine. I am going to get the motherboard that I know it was originally installed on, I will try to boot it and see what happens from there.
And here we see the oft ridiculed concept of "It does not work with different hardware"
If you can find the original motherboard or a duplicate, yes, it should work.

But again, what is on this drive that needs the actual OS?
 
Jan 23, 2020
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And here we see the oft ridiculed concept of "It does not work with different hardware"
If you can find the original motherboard or a duplicate, yes, it should work.

But again, what is on this drive that needs the actual OS?
I wanted to run some programs which were still on this drive as well as have the ability to use the specific Windows installation again.

Before I started to write this reply, I finally found the right program to open the file and I was able to find the information I was looking for, thank you to everyone who took their time to help me find an answer. I really appreciate it.
 
Jan 23, 2020
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Well tell us! What program did your use and what did find out?
I used Windows Registry Recovery which is located on this website
http://www.mitec.cz/wrr.html


I loaded in a file called system (not system.sav) which is in the Windows\System32\Config folder and went to the hardware section in the program. There's a drop down menu and you have to select "LastKnownGood" and your hardware info will show up. If you want it to display the information in a more datailed way you can click the box that says "Device Map" and then hit the refresh button which is right next to it and then it displays the information in a Device Manager styled menu.
 

onespeedbiker

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Apr 13, 2019
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I used Windows Registry Recovery which is located on this website
http://www.mitec.cz/wrr.html


I loaded in a file called system (not system.sav) which is in the Windows\System32\Config folder and went to the hardware section in the program. There's a drop down menu and you have to select "LastKnownGood" and your hardware info will show up. If you want it to display the information in a more datailed way you can click the box that says "Device Map" and then hit the refresh button which is right next to it and then it displays the information in a Device Manager styled menu.
It's amazing what happens when you don't listen to the naysayers, "It will never work so you might as well give up."
 

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