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Puzzling Registry Size Issue

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#1
Dave-H

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I have an issue with my Windows 98SE system which I'm hoping that one of the many Win98 experts on here may be able to shed some light on.

It first came up when I tried to install Office XP on the system.
The install went fine, but when I re-started, all I got was the dreaded "VFAT unable to load" BSOD.
It would boot in safe mode, and by trial and error, I discovered that if I disabled my network adaptor in Device Manager, it would boot normally. I could then re-enable the adapter, and it worked fine, but the system wouldn't start normally with it enabled.

I also started to get all sorts of error messages about the registry being corrupted if I tried to test its integrity with utilities like Norton Windoctor.

Eventually I had to fix the problem by using scanreg to restore an earlier version of the registry, but this of course didn't contain the necessary keys for Office XP.

To cut a very long and painful story short, I had to abandon Office XP (it is actually a dual boot system with Windows 2000, and I now use Office XP just on Windows 2000, with no problem.)

Since then I have had this happen again a few times when I've installed new software, and it seems to happen if anything complex is installed which writes a lot of registry data.

What appears to be happening is that the boot fails if the registry gets to above a certain size, and it seems to be specifically if the system.dat file gets to above about 12.5MB in size.

I recently proved this (I think!) when it happened again when I tried to upgrade to WMP 9 from WMP 7.1.
The VFAT error came back again on the first reboot after an apparently successful install.

As an experiment I saved some of the Realplayer registry keys as exported files, and deleted the keys. (Realplayer installation writes huge amounts of data to the registry.)
The system then booted fine. I merged the keys back in, and the system wouldn't boot again!

The system is just on edge on this, as I have been able to cure the problem occasionally in the past by compacting the registry by using an optimisation program. However I have now uninstalled the Realplayer, which has reduced the registry size considerably, so that I'm not in imminent danger of this happening again if I install something!

Realplayer was the obvious thing to remove as it does write a huge amount of stuff to the registry, and I didn't use it much anyway. I'll probably just install RealAlternative now instead.
I should say that Realplayer always worked perfectly when it was installed.

So, does anyone have any idea as to why this was happening?

Everything I've read on this subject, and believe me, I've searched a lot, implies that the size of the Windows 98 regisrty is limited only by disk space and memory. I have a huge amount of both.

The symptoms seem to indicate to me that something is happening when the registry files get to a certain size which is preventing them from loading into memory.

I have 1GB of RAM, which Windows 98 seems to be recognising and using.
My motherboard is a Supermicro dual Zeon server board (Intel chipset), which I gather hasn't been tested with Windows 98, but seems to work fine apart from this issue.
Could it be a motherboard issue?

Does the Windows 98 registry go into some special place in memory which isn't as big as it should be for some reason?
Is disabling the network adaptor somehow releasing space which is allowing the registry to load?

If anyone has any clues on this, I would be very grateful to know, because no-one I've asked so far has even ever heard of this happening before!
Thanks, Dave.
:)

Edited by Dave-H, 21 September 2007 - 09:38 AM.

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#2
eidenk

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I am on WinMe and if I was on 98 I would probably have bumped in similar issues as the cumulated size of my classes.dat and system.dat is above 13MB. The biggest eaters in terms of size seem to be DirectX and the dotnet runtimes with their huge amount of CLSIDs keys.

I think I have read about the registry files having a maximum size on Win9x but I cannot find anything about it now.

What seems certain anyway is that scanreg is unable to compact registry files which are above 8MB.

IMO the best doc about the win9x registry is in japanese : http://www.haltz.com/rgstry2/index.htm

There is one page in english though but for the rest you'll need to use babelfish or google translate. He details several different methods for compacting the registry and there is alot about the registry stucture.

This guy wrote a registry compactor, RegCon which is the only one that does actually work amongst the many claiming to to do that and that I have tried.

He also wrote a registry analyzer, Registrip, which has no equivalent and which displays charts and pies about registry occupation (used space, empty space, dead gaps).

I have translated those two interesting freebies some time ago, the first partially and the second more completely.

I have uploaded those translated apps on Rapidshare in case you find them useful to troubleshoot or circumvent your issue :

http://rapidshare.co...egUtils.7z.html

There is a couple of other utils you might find useful to hunt for stuff to delete from the registry :

Registry Space Profiler : http://www.tliquest.net/software/rsp/ and Pluto : http://sourceforge.net/projects/pluto
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#3
Dave-H

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Thank you so much for that eidenk, that's really helpful.
:thumbup
I will certainly look at all those references closely.
I downloaded the file from Rapidshare, but what do I open .7Z files with?
I assume it's some sort of compressed archive, but WinZip doesn't want to know it!

It does look at first glance as if the Japanese guy's method of compacting the registry relies on exporting the sections as text files and then merging them back in again.
The Windows Optimisation Wizard in Norton Utilities works pretty much the same way I think, to remove empty space in the registry files, and that is what I've been using to keep my registry size down to a minimum.
You can in fact backup the entire registry as a text file and re-import it, which will do pretty much the same thing I think.

I am still very puzzled as to why this is happening on my system though.
I really can't believe that Windows 98 has a limitation that will prevent it from starting just because the registry has got too big!
There was a key data size limit I believe on Windows 95, which was removed in Windows 98, and I know you can set a maximum registry size on NT based systems, but everything I've read says that there is no limitation on registry size in Windows 98.

As I said before, I can only assume that it is a problem with the registry not loading properly into memory on start-up.
Does anyone know exactly where in memory the registry loads?
Is it always loaded into a specific address range?
If so, it is possible that on my system the amount of memory available for the registry isn't as big as it should be for some reason, maybe because something on the motherboard is taking some of it up. Perhaps the network adaptor resources, which would explain why it will boot if I disable it.

Any more ideas anyone?
Thanks, Dave.
:)

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#4
eidenk

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Thank you so much for that eidenk, that's really helpful.
:thumbup
I will certainly look at all those references closely.
I downloaded the file from Rapidshare, but what do I open .7Z files with?
I assume it's some sort of compressed archive, but WinZip doesn't want to know it!


Unbelieveable that winzip does not support 7z with the price it costs really :whistle: You'll need 7-Zip or another archiver supporting this format, which means almost all those who don't cost any money.

I am still very puzzled as to why this is happening on my system though.
I really can't believe that Windows 98 has a limitation that will prevent it from starting just because the registry has got too big!

There was a key data size limit I believe on Windows 95, which was removed in Windows 98, and I know you can set a maximum registry size on NT based systems, but everything I've read says that there is no limitation on registry size in Windows 98.

If so, it is possible that on my system the amount of memory available for the registry isn't as big as it should be for some reason, maybe because something on the motherboard is taking some of it up. Perhaps the network adaptor resources, which would explain why it will boot if I disable it.


MS says about Win 98 registry :

The limit to total registry size depends on available hard disk space and available memory.

http://www.microsoft...1.mspx?mfr=true

So it seems you are right about the unlimited size of it. As you said you have ample memory and disk space, what you suggest above should not be a problem.

Any more ideas anyone ?


As the japanese guy is adamant that scanreg can't optimize a registry bigger than 8MB, it might be worth trying to boot with the optimize option of scanreg disabled as the entire process might just been choking on that eventually.

You would just need to edit the scanreg.ini file in your windows dir and set the optimize value to 0, and see how it fares like that.

The network adapter thing seems bizarre though. I cannot make much sense of it. :wacko:

Also, have you thought about uninstalling or disabling something in Norton in case it also touches the registry at startup which I would guess it might be doing ?
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#5
galahs

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If anyone has the time and no-how, a translated version of that website posted on here for future reference would be highly appreciated by many. :blushing:

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#6
Sfor

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I would start from reducing the memory installed to 512MB maximum.

There is a memory fix in the unofficial service pack. It would be good to install it, if it was not applied, already.

#7
eidenk

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If anyone has the time and no-how, a translated version of that website posted on here for future reference would be highly appreciated by many. :blushing:

Well I have run Google translate on all the pages and did download them ater that. I can archive all that and upload it if you want.

Of course it is not a real translation. I haven't even removed the junk from it but it might save you a bit of time. Let me know if you want them.
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#8
galahs

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Yes please :D

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#9
eidenk

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Here you go :hello:

http://rapidshare.co.../RegDoc.7z.html
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#10
Dave-H

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Thanks everyone.
I'd be interested to see the translated pages too please eidenk.
[EDIT] Oh, you've posted tham! :thumbup
BTW, I eventually opened your .7z file with WinRAR.
As you say, it's strange that WinZip won't cope with it, but I have found a few other compreesed archive formats which only open with WinZip and not WinRAR, and vice versa......

In reply to Sfor, I don't think that having 1GB of memory is causing the problem.
There has been much debate on here and elsewhere as to whether Windows 98 can run happily with that amount of RAM fitted, and whether it can actually use it if it is happy!
I think the concensus is that there should be no problem with 1GB of RAM, as long as a few tweaks are done, all of which I have done. I've been running like that for quite a few years now, and everything has been very stable on Windows 98 and runs very well. I don't ever need to have a swap file, it all runs in memory.

What I am intrigued with is the possibility that scanreg is the source of the problem.
If it really can't cope with optimising a registry larger than 8MB, and it's set to check and compact the registry on bootup, it is very possible that it's actually falling over when the registry gets very much bigger than 8MB.
This could well prvent the boot from continuing, although it still doesn't explain why the boot will complete if the network adaptor is disabled!
This does seem to be a bit of a major design flaw in scanreg, as the registry on a system with many large pieces of software installed is inevitably going to end up considerably larger than 8MB in size!
I have disabled start-up optimisation as suggested, and I'll see how it goes.
I can always manually optimise the registry with the Norton Optimisation Wizard, or any of the other programs I've kindly been pointed to.

Thanks again, Dave.
:)

Edited by Dave-H, 23 September 2007 - 04:35 PM.

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#11
eidenk

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What I am intrigued with is the possibility that scanreg is the source of the problem.
If it really can't cope with optimising a registry larger than 8MB, and it's set to check and compact the registry on bootup, it is very possible that it's actually falling over when the registry gets very much bigger than 8MB.
This could well prvent the boot from continuing, although it still doesn't explain why the boot will complete if the network adaptor is disabled!
This does seem to be a bit of a major design flaw in scanreg, as the registry on a system with many large pieces of software installed is inevitably going to end up considerably larger than 8MB in size!
I have didabled start-up optimisation as suggested, and I'll see how it goes.
I can always manually optimise the registry with the Norton Optimisation Wizard, or any of the other programs I've kindly been pointed to.

I thought about it a bit more as you said you had an error message saying that VFAT could not be loaded. That is very early in the boot process and I am not sure whether this takes place before or after scanreg. (If you want to prevent scanreg to run at all you must also disble the backup option btw.)

Also it does appear that VFAT (which is part of vmm32.vxd) is not loaded from the registry :

Some VxDs are required for Windows 95 to run properly. These required VxDs are loaded automatically and do not require a registry entry.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/174018


And here is a page about being unable to load VFAT that you may want to check albeit nothing seems to apply to your case :

http://support.micro...b;EN-US;q139063

Puzzling as the title of the thread says.
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#12
Dave-H

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Already checked that page long ago, several times!
Everything stated there as a possible cause of the VFAT loading error has always been correct on my system, but when the error appears I still get that error message BSOD and the system hangs.
:(
I do remember doing a logged boot several times when I first had the error, before I isolated it down to being related to the registry size, and I think the boot actually croaked on loading the ndis driver.
If I did a step by step boot, and skipped that driver, the boot completed successfully.
This is of course the same as disabling the network adapter.................!
:)

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#13
eidenk

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I can confirm that on my ME system scanreg does not perform optimization of any of the registry .dat files at startup because one of them has a size above 8 MB.
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galahs

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Here you go :hello:

http://rapidshare.co.../RegDoc.7z.html


Thanks mate :thumbup

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#15
dencorso

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I have an issue with my Windows 98SE system which I'm hoping that one of the many Win98 experts on here may be able to shed some light on. [...]
What appears to be happening is that the boot fails if the registry gets to above a certain size, and it seems to be specifically if the system.dat file gets to above about 12.5MB in size. [...]
So, does anyone have any idea as to why this was happening?

Everything I've read on this subject, and believe me, I've searched a lot, implies that the size of the Windows 98 regisrty is limited only by disk space and memory. I have a huge amount of both.

The symptoms seem to indicate to me that something is happening when the registry files get to a certain size which is preventing them from loading into memory. [...]
If anyone has any clues on this, I would be very grateful to know, because no-one I've asked so far has even ever heard of this happening before!
Thanks, Dave.
:)

Mightn't KB277222 be relevant to this issue? I'm fully aware it refers to Win 2k, but...

#16
Dave-H

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Thanks dencorso, that's really interesting, and sorry that I've only just seen it!
:thumbup
I'm particularly interested in the bit about ".......the SYSTEM hive and the Windows kernel files must fit below 16 MB when Windows starts."
That or something similar could well be the case in Windows 98 as well, and could well explain my problem!
:yes:
If this is a fundamental limitation on registry size in Win98, I'm very surprised that it doesn't seem to be more generally known about..............
:)

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#17
charly

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Thanks everyone.
I'd be interested to see the translated pages too please eidenk.
[EDIT] Oh, you've posted tham! :thumbup
BTW, I eventually opened your .7z file with WinRAR.
As you say, it's strange that WinZip won't cope with it, but I have found a few other compreesed archive formats which only open with WinZip and not WinRAR, and vice versa......


Funny, I can't open it with 7zip ?

(http://rapidshare.co...311/RegUtils.7z)

I think something is wrong witj the downloaded file -- try twice both files won't open.
Charlie

#18
charly

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Can't open any of your files on rapidshare.com with 7-Zip (*.7z) ?

Charlie

#19
charly

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From 7 Zip--
"
Why can't 7-Zip open some ZIP archives?
In 99% of these cases it means that the archive contains incorrect headers. ZIP archives contain two copies of headers. 7-Zip reads both copies and won't open archives with incorrect data in the headers. Other ZIP programs can open some archives with incorrect headers, since these programs usually read only one copy of the headers, or they just ignore errors.

If you have such archive, please don't call the 7-Zip developers about it. Instead try to find the program that was used to create the archive and inform the developers of that program that their software is not ZIP-compatible.

There is now also an extension to the ZIP format for strong encryption (AES) support. The next version of 7-Zip will support it. You can try the AES feature in the latest beta version of 7-Zip."

But can't find what "AES" is , and where access to it is in the latest beta version ?

#20
dencorso

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[...]
I'm particularly interested in the bit about ".......the SYSTEM hive and the Windows kernel files must fit below 16 MB when Windows starts."
That or something similar could well be the case in Windows 98 as well, and could well explain my problem! :yes:
If this is a fundamental limitation on registry size in Win98, I'm very surprised that it doesn't seem to be more generally known about.............. :)


Yea, those were my thoghts also. I've searched for scrubber and found it here. While there is no version for Win 9x/ME, Avid offers two different versions, one for 2k and the other for XP. The accompanying documentation (entitled "Scrubber Utility for Avid Unity Products", let's call it SUAUP) provides some more tidbits of information, so now I think I do see a thread. Of course, by kernel they must be referring to all fundamental system components, not just krnl386.exe + kernel32.dll. And it makes sense that those files got bigger and bigger with every new version of windows.

That said, the limits for system.dat seem to be:
12.5MB for Win 9x/ME (your finding)
11 MB for Win 2k (plain vanilla) (from SUAUP for 2k)
10.3 MB for Win 2k Server (from KB277222)
8MB for win XP (from SUAUP for XP)

SUAUP for 2k states, clearly, "If this file reaches approximately 11 MB in size under Windows 2000, the system may fail to boot and need to be rebuilt", which parallels quite nicely your own statement of the issue, on the first post.

It remains to be seen whether any of the scrubbers can be made to work with Win 9x/ME. And investigate every registry cleaner and/or compactor to be able to deal with this issue as best as we can.

#21
eidenk

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Can't open any of your files on rapidshare.com with 7-Zip (*.7z) ?

Charlie

I have downloaded with IE both those two archives I had uploaded and they open and extract fine with both 7-Zip and Izarc.

Next time please avoid making three posts in a row for the same thing and append new material instead by editing your first post as I have just done with this one.

Edited by eidenk, 10 November 2007 - 04:45 AM.

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#22
eidenk

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It remains to be seen whether any of the scrubbers can be made to work with Win 9x/ME. And investigate every registry cleaner and/or compactor to be able to deal with this issue as best as we can.

Well I have the best registry cleaners I think as well as the best compactor I also think which is the one I posted above but those tools aren't enough to squeeze out all the junk that might be in the registry.

As a matter of fact I removed more than 6MB from my registry by hand since I last posted in this thread (not counting the just above post).

Roughly 2MB from the Software keys, 2MB from the MSI installer key and 2MB very fastidiously from the CLSID, Typelib and Interface keys with the help of COMView.

Of course this has been done after removing all I could with Regseeker, Wise Registry Cleaner and Microsoft's Windows Installer Cleanup.

Another key that can become huge is the UserAssist key. It's a key that logs by default in a crypted form everything you launch from the shell.

Its subkeys which contain the logs can be deleted without problems. It can also be prevented from logging launches and thus from using registry real estate by setting it's NoLog Value to 1 under the Settings subkey.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\UserAssist

Edited by eidenk, 10 November 2007 - 05:35 AM.

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#23
dencorso

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Hi, eidenk! :hello:
As always, you bring us good news and wonderful tools! :thumbup
I shall try the method you described shortly. Of the UserAssist issue I was aware.
There is lots of info in a page by Helamonster and his handy, dependable and quite funny named little utility, UserAss, that does a pretty good job at eliminating UserAssist from the registry once and forevermore. :w00t: The downside is that UserAssist exists in USER.DAT, so that eliminating it srinks the registry but does not shrink SYSTEM.DAT, which, in my system, is already at 8.2 MB, after running Registry Concentrator (thanks a lot for it, BTW). So my next priority is to shrink it asap.

Edited by dencorso, 10 November 2007 - 10:55 PM.


#24
eidenk

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Glad Registry Concentrator is usefull for you.

I am on Win ME and the cumulated size of my system.dat and classes.dat (which are the equivalent of 98SE system.dat) is nearly 10MB after all that cleaning so I recon your sytem.dat is pretty clean if you have DX9 and NET 2.0 installed.

I thought I'd mention a method for cleaning the COM keys (CLSID, Typelib and Interface) at 100%.

It actually consist of deleting them and then merging old clean ones to the registry.

Of course for doing that you need to have exported those keys with regedit after installing Windows and updates (IE, DX, DotNet, MDAC, JET, etc...) and most common apps such as Acrobat Reader for example.

If you don't have that and don't mind reinstalling updates and apps, there is still a way to do it if you have kept your system.1st file.

As you probably know, when windows is installed it creates a system.1st and a user.1st files. Those are actually backups of the initial registry.

If you stilll have those files you can open them with another marvellous free tool called RegExport and export any key in Regedit 4 format. (Mitec's Windows Registry Recovery app claims to be able to do the same but it does not work correctly here).

When I cleaned the COM keys with COMView I actually deleted a bit too much stuff and some functions of IE turned out to be broken which I did not manage to fix by reregistering IE components with regsvr32 so I did resort to the above method of exporting the COM keys from a post IE 5.5 install dat file I had kept.

Merging them to the registry increased it's size by about 100kb or so which obviously is what I deleted by mistake with COMview and could not fix with regsvr32. After doing that everything was working fine again.

I think I have told all my secrets now. B)

Edited by eidenk, 12 November 2007 - 05:44 AM.

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charly

charly

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Can't open any of your files on rapidshare.com with 7-Zip (*.7z) ?

Charlie

I have downloaded with IE both those two archives I had uploaded and they open and extract fine with both 7-Zip and Izarc.

Next time please avoid making three posts in a row for the same thing and append new material instead by editing your first post as I have just done with this one.

Tried all versions of 7-zip and latest version of winrar, also one other program #7z, but can not open your files (Regutils or Regdoc ) . Can open any other .7z files that I down load, so it seems to be your files when I down load them. Any other format you could put them in?
Sorry about not editing my post, your right I need to do that next time. I had not done that before, again I'm sorry. Thanks for your help - Charlie




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