October 29, 2008

Recover Windows Mail
from a Backup Copy

Last week I had to reinstall Windows Vista Home Premium on my father's computer. I then installed Vista Service Pack 1 and reinstalled various applications. I had an up-to-date backup copy of my father's user folder, but I did not know how to get the old emails and contacts into the newly-installed copy of Windows Mail.

The Problem

How do you make a reinstallation of Windows Mail include old emails and old contacts?


Way back in the days of DOS and Windows 3.1 it was relatively easy to move programs and data around on your hard drive. Sometimes a text initialization file with a file name extension of "ini" had to be edited to reflect new file paths, but such changes were relatively straightforward. Now most Windows programs use an installation process that populates the Windows Registry with information regarding the program and its data, which prevents you from relocating program and data files on your hard drive without also editing the Registry. I did not know how Windows Mail uses the Registry. Are there registry entries for email folders and subfolders? Are their indexes to emails and/or attachments? How would I merge old inbox emails with new inbox emails? There had been an old email account that was no longer active, but from which many mails had been sent. Does that old account need to be defined to preserve the old mail? I didn't know the answers to any of those questions. I just knew I wanted the recovery to be clean, simple, and complete. (grin)

When the computer was new over a year ago I imported all the old Outlook Express mail into Windows Mail. I remembered the process seemed buggy then and I didn't like the way the imported folders were indented within an imported folder. Windows Mail offers export and import, but I was reluctant to experiment with importing Windows Mail into Windows Mail.

Vista Service Pack 1 is a big update. If part of the update includes changing the formats of emails or of the contacts file, I would be in trouble. I viewed both Contacts files in Explorer. The columns shown in the detailed view were different between the old and new files, but I hoped it was due to a viewing-layout change rather than an underlying file-format change.

The Solution

What I did was very simple and it seems to have worked perfectly. I haven't noticed any negative consequences.

First, I copied the old email folders into the new location. When you perform a custom reinstallation of Vista Home Premium, old data is copied into a folder named "Windows.old". That's where I copied the old email folders from, although I also had an external backup I could have used. Here is the location where I found the old email folders:

C:\Windows.old\Users\<user>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail\Local Folders

I copied the folders from that location into this location:

C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail\Local Folders

Note: I changed my father's user name to "<user>" in the path names above. You would have to replace "<user>" with your own user name.

When there was already a folder of the same name in the new location, if the new folder contained emails, I did not replace it with the old folder. That situation occurred with the Inbox. I copied the individual files from the old Inbox folder to the new Inbox folder. I noticed a file that appeared to be a contents or index file in both folders, but I ignored it hoping Windows Mail would update it later automatically to reflect the folder's contents.

Then I replaced the new Contacts file with the old Contacts file. The old Contacts file was here:


I copied it to here:


I looked at a detailed view of the copied Contacts file in Explorer. The data appeared to be correct and in the proper fields.

I did not copy any account data. I had used a wizard to configure the newly-installed Windows Mail.

Warning: The steps in this post relate what I did. This process seems to have worked for me. Following the same steps might not work for you. Follow this procedure at your own risk. Make a backup of files and folders you will be changing beforehand, so if the process doesn't work you will be able to recover.

October 28, 2008

Vista Service Pack 1 Failure
Installation Error 0xc01a001d

Last week I used Windows Update to install Windows Vista Service Pack 1 on my father's computer running Vista Home Premium.

The Problem

The installation failed during one of the automatic restarts. There was a black screen with one line of flickering white text, which said the following:

!! 0xc01a001d !! 37707/91526 (\Registry\Machine\COMPONENTS\Winners\x86...)

Before the error the 37707 number had been incrementing rapidly and the 91526 number was static. I assume the numbers represented registry entries (or files) and the left number was incrementing until it reached the right number.

The Cause

Unknown. Google returned about 500 hits on the error code. Most of the hits referenced forums in which people were asking for help with the same problem. I saw no site documenting a solution. One possible reason for the code is that a log file filled up. ("C01A001D STATUS_LOG_FULL Log space is exhausted" found here.)

The Final Solution

I had to perform a custom reinstallation of Vista using the Vista reinstallation DVD that came with the Dell computer. The first attempt failed. The second attempt succeeded. I had to download and install Vista Service Pack 1 again. This time it worked. I had to reinstall every program and figure out how to get each program's data loaded from backup copies.

Actions Taken

When I first saw the error I knew it was bad. I didn't want to do anything that might make the problem harder to recover from. Since Microsoft offers free Vista SP1 support for problems not defined as advanced, I called Microsoft at (866) 234-6020. There was no wait time for a Vista SP1 support person.

I worked on the phone with a Microsoft technician for 2 hours and 26 minutes. She sounded Indian and had an accent I found difficult to understand. At first I was hopeful because I knew I had at least four good restore points. Following are some of the things we tried. I mention them here because if you can get any of them to work it's better than reinstalling Vista.

I powered off the computer by pressing and holding the Dell desktop's power button for several seconds. Then I pressed the power button to turn it back on. The restart failed at the same point, but with a different error code. This time the error code was 0xc0190036 and the file named was WSDMon.dll. I powered the computer off and on again. The restart failed with the same error (0xc0190036) on the same file (WSDMon.dll).

(While writing this account I discovered a forum post claiming that the 0xc0190036 error means the named file is corrupted. If you can boot into Safe Mode or to a command prompt, which I could not, and if the poster's information is correct, you can get around this error by either deleting or changing the name of the corrupted file. The Vista SP1 installation will simply install a new copy of the file. However, this error list says error C0190036 means "STATUS_FILE_IDENTITY_NOT_PERSISTENT The file cannot be opened transactionally, because its identity depends on the outcome of an unresolved transaction.")

I powered off and powered on again, pressing F8 repeatedly during boot-up to invoke the Advanced Boot Options. I selected Safe Mode. Attempting to boot into Safe Mode failed.

I rebooted and pressed F12 during boot-up to get the boot source options. With the Vista Installation DVD in the CD/DVD drive, I chose "Onboard or USB CD-ROM Drive". The next text-filled screen had something like "Press any key to boot from CD" at the very bottom of the screen, however, time was not provided to read the screen before the computer began booting from the hard disk. This timing problem caused me to accidentally start booting from the hard disk three different times. Each time Windows ran a recovery process that failed.

I rebooted, pressed F12, chose "Onboard or USB CD-ROM Drive", and quickly pressed the space bar to boot from the DVD drive. I selected the "Repair Your Computer" option from the DVD. I don't have the details in my notes, but I got to a screen that offered to restore from a restore point. Only one restore point was shown. The failed Vista SP1 installation had deleted, hidden, or otherwise rendered the other restore points inaccessible. I tried to restore to the restore point shown and received the following error.

System Restore did not complete successfully. Your computer's system files and settings were not changed. System Restore failed due to an unspecified error. The file cannot be opened transactionally, because its identity depends on the outcome of an unresolved transaction. (0x80071AA7)

I rebooted to the DVD and chose to perform a custom installation. A custom installation saves selected files in a folder called "Windows.old". On the last step of the installation the installation failed with an error message saying the Windows.old directory was corrupt. It said to run CHKDSK.

Rebooting produced the following error.

Install Windows
The computer restarted unexpectedly or encountered an unexpected error. Windows installation cannot proceed. To install Windows, click "OK" to restart the computer, and then restart the installation.

The computer would not reboot, even in Safe Mode or Safe Mode with command prompt.

I rebooted to the DVD and chose to perform another custom installation. This time the installation completed and then CHKDSK ran automatically.

I called Microsoft back and got another difficult-to-understand Indian-sounding technician to help me get a clean installation of Vista Service Pack 1. He walked me through checking services, setting selective start-up in msconfig, and downloading SP1. The SP1 installation succeeded.

October 27, 2008

Vista Connection Error
(currently online but not responding)

I recently worked on a difficult connection problem on my father's computer. This post will share some of the problems and the solution in hopes of helping others solve the problem more quickly than I did. Our relevant system specs are listed at the end of the post.

The Problem: Suddenly the computer was not able to connect to the Internet (including email).

The Cause: AT&T stopped honoring the default usercode/password that was stored in the DSL modem, with no warning and no meaningful error messages. The connection simply stopped working.

The Solution: AT&T support reset something giving me temporary access. I went to an AT&T login page where I was able to change the usercode and password. I reset the modem by using a paperclip to press the reset button in the hole in the back of the modem. Then I was able to enter and save the new usercode and password in the DSL modem.

I'll share some symptoms, actions I performed, and pitfalls so you can see if your problem is similar to ours.


No Internet connection and no email connection.

The modem lights indicated everything was fine. There were four solid green lights and the fifth light blinked green occasionally. None of the lights were red or yellow.

Neighbors who were also BellSouth DSL subscribers did not have a problem.

Attempting to connect to the Internet using Internet Explorer resulted in the error message, "Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage." Clicking on "Diagnose Connection Problems" on the error screen resulted in the following error window.

Windows Network Diagnostics

Windows confirmed that "www.google.com" is currently online, but is not responding to connection attempts at this time.

This usually means that a firewall is running somewhere between the two computers and is blocking "World Wide Web service (HTTP)". Windows has confirmed that Windows Firewall on this computer is correctly configured to allow this connection. However, a remote firewall might be blocking your connection.

If you have access to this firewall then configure the firewall to allow connections through TCP port 80. If you don't have access, contact your network administrator or Internet service provider.

Windows Network Diagnostics confirmed that each address we tried was online but not responding, indicating that there was a physical connection to the Internet. Microsoft even automatically downloaded and installed a Windows update, further proving the connection existed and was working, but was being blocked when we tried to use it. (Diagnostics can also be run from the pop-up menu you get when you right-click on the network icon on the lower right in the system tray.)

Attempting to download email also caused an error.


Reset the network adapter using a link in the Windows Network Diagnostics results. No effect.

Checked wires. All were intact.

Rebooting the computer and rebooting the modem by disconnecting and reconnecting the power cable had no effect.

I accessed the modem's user interface using the IP address listed in the manual. I ran the modem's full diagnostics. All tests passed.

Turning off the Windows Domain, Public, and Private firewalls had no effect.

Disabling and later uninstalling Avast! antivirus had no effect.

Stopping LogMeIn and later uninstalling LogMeIn had no effect.

Uninstalling Windows Vista Service Pack 1, which had installed the previous day, had no effect.

Restoring the system to a restore point created while the computer still had Internet access had no effect.

Downloading and installing another driver for the network adapter did not help.

Disabling and enabling the network adapter did not help.

I called AT&T support and ran several commands the technician walked me through. We opened a DOS window by clicking Start on the lower left and then entering "CMD" in the search field. I ran "ipconfig /release" which resulted in an error saying elevation was required. This put off the technician. (I was running Windows under an administrative account.) I ran "ipconfig /renew" which didn't help. I ran "ipconfig /all" and read the technician the results. When I got to the result that said something like, "Tunnel Adapter Local Area Connection *6 Teredo Tunneling Pseudo-Interface Media Disconnected", the technician said she thought I had either a bad network adapter or a bad Ethernet cable. Since she thought the problem was with the hardware, she said she couldn't be of any more assistance, although she did give me a fee-based AT&T technical support number I could call. (Since then I have learned that several of the connections listed on the "ipconfig /all" results say "Media Disconnected" even when the online connection is working fine.)

I knew the adapter and LAN cable were good since Microsoft was able to download updates, but I realized the best way to make AT&T continue working on the problem would be to prove the adapter and cable were not the problem. So we bought a new Netgear GA311 network adapter and a new LAN cable. We installed those and still had no Internet access.

I called AT&T support again, told the technician we had replaced the parts the previous technician had said were defective, and we still had no Internet access. He determined that the usercode/password stored in the modem were old default values that AT&T had deactivated. He reset something giving us temporary access. He gave us a url to visit where I changed the usercode and password. Then I accessed the modem's user interface and entered the new usercode and password. Problem solved.

Relevant Computer Specs.

Internet Service: BellSouth (AT&T) FastAccess DSL
Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium
Browser: Internet Explorer 7
DSL Modem: Motorola Netopia 2210-02
Internet Adapter: Intel 82562V 10/100 Network Connection (on motherboard)
Netgear GA311 network adapter (added)