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Old Registry Hive Viewer and Exporter (rare freebie?)

caulbox
Grafter
Posts: 176
Registered: 19-06-2009

Old Registry Hive Viewer and Exporter (rare freebie?)

Maybe I'm a bit untypical, but I often find myself wanting to access legacy registry hives. I still use XP and I know its possible to load/unload hives in Regedit for such purposes. But I'm inclined to be very cautious about introducing a multitude of (even temporary) values into what is effectively a live registry. Yes I know I could back up first, but I've been seeking a better foolproof strategy.

For a while I searched for a standalone util which would allow me to view old reg hives and export keys without encroaching upon my current registry in any way. I did once find a shareware util (Alien Registry Viewer) which met my needs to some extent. But of course it was a time-limited trial, and I found the software somewhat buggy (at least it was when I was testing in a sandbox)

My search for a freeware utility gained impetus in recent months after my 10yr old pc finally decided it'd had enough (the CPU packed up). Money's tight for me, but it proved cost-effective to get a replacement barebones desktop system from eBay (including legit XP Pro) for £59 delivered - which is continuing to run remarkably well. But in setting up my new system, all too often I found myself missing what many years of tweaking on my defunct pc had achieved. To use but one example....I had some great IE8 search providers on my old system, but (partly thanks to changes at MS) it became a PITA attempting to relocate where I might have sourced those search providers in the past. A much simpler solution for me was to export the values from a registry key which I still had access to (on a TrueImage backup image) belonging to my defunct system partition.

I'm usually quite good at finding freeware apps tailored to meet my needs. But I confess that I'd struggled for ages trying to find a freebie registry hive viewer/exporter - hence why I'm posting this recommendation. Eventually I chanced upon a freeware utility called Windows Registry Recovery (WRR) from MiTeC which did everything I was hoping for, and more. I have to admit that WRR took a VERY long time (maybe half hour IIRC!) when exporting my entire legacy HKLM/Software key (to regedit4 format). I originally suspected that such a long delay might have been due to the formatting and text editing involved in the process (in this case, precise subkey path detail such as software needs to be appended to the HKLM root key which is selected from a droplist before exporting the loaded hive, and WRR makes no pretence to be a text editor). But I'm now thinking that maybe such long delays are unavoidable due to more complex reasons?
I can't comment about other OS's, but certainly with regards to XP hives what WRR does purport to reveal and make accessible is done effectively and efficiently (if sometimes slowly). Even if you don't have need for such a tool at this time - I strongly recommend the download (predominantly for more advanced users) so that WRR will be accessible if and when it might prove it's worth later (e.g.if you have occasion to recall a crucial lost key value from a legacy or possibly corrupted registry hive).

If anyone knows of a better free registry hive tool, then I'm all ears....
Edit to add a WARNING FOR NOVICES!
As with any registry related tasks, you do things at your own risk! Extreme care must be taken or you could end up with a computer that no longer functions! I decided not to explain locations of registry hives, because if you need to ask then this software is probably not for you. As I said at the outset, my own reasons for using WRR are largely to guard against any danger of live registry corruption. But although WRR is a self-contained registry tool which in no way presents any danger of itself, I suppose the possibility remains that some complete novice users might naively (e.g.) double click on exported regedit files, and end up merging unwanted values into their current registry. If you're not sure what I'm warning against, then please don't use this software!
2 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 5,356
Thanks: 486
Fixes: 1
Registered: 21-03-2011

Re: Old Registry Hive Viewer and Exporter (rare freebie?)

I'm having fun currently importing "images" of old pc's into VMware viewer. I have 6 old PC's I hope to coax in to life as these ghosts from the past run as virtual machines. Their viewer is free and seems to work reasonably well. Any use in your case?
Now Zen, but a +Net residue.
caulbox
Grafter
Posts: 176
Registered: 19-06-2009

Re: Old Registry Hive Viewer and Exporter (rare freebie?)

Not really of much interest to me to be honest. I've no experience of VMware viewer, though I did once try Microsoft's Virtual PC so that I'd have access to a virtual Win98 machine (for compatibility with older software). But I soon uninstalled, as the sluggishness introduced by using emulated devices just wasn't worth the effort. But that's a different story entirely Smiley