Restoring the Windows 98 Registry Manually

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I was trying to do a video card upgrade in my Windows 98 machine, and after installing the drivers, it would constanly bluescreen on startup, and when it actually started, launching almost any program would crash the system completely.

Warning: this method is only as a last resort, if you have not tried more simple fixes (selective startup, msconfig load, scanreg, etc) then try them first. I am not responsible for any data loss.

1: Start up your computer, and press F8 on your keyboard until you see the Windows 98 Startup Menu.

2: Type "cd windows", then type "dir system.*".

3: You will probably see many files named system, but look for the ones with the largest file size, in the case of my computer, 4-5 MB.

SYSTEM.DAT is the registry, and there will probably be a backup in the same folder. In the case of my computer, it was SYSTEM.RSC. (your backup could have a different extension)

(In the case of my computer, the damaged SYSTEM.DAT file was dated 06/28/20, while the backup SYSTEM.RSC file was dated 03/26/18. Keep in mind that if you installed many programs between now, and the last available backup, things will break, and you might have to reinstall those programs.)

4: Type "attrib -h -s -r system.dat", and "attrib -h -s -r system.rsc", or whatever your backup is named.

5: Type "ren system.dat *.old" to create a backup of the current resgistry, in case things to really wrong.

(If things do go wrong, and you want to restore the registry to before this restoration attempt, restart in MS DOS mode again, type "cd windows", type "attrib -h -s -r system.dat, then "copy system.old system.dat".)

5: Type "copy system.rsc system.dat" to make the old registry active again. (again, replace rsc with the extension of your backup)

Restart your computer, if the problem is resolved, then cool. If your computer is still having issues, and you want to restore the old registry, follow the gray text in Step 5.

Doing this singlehandedly saved my aging Windows 98 install that I thought i'd lost forever.. Hope this worked for you as well!
I tried to make this page as easy to understand as possible, but if you're desperate, shoot an e-mail to .

Updated: June 28, 2020