Repair of Windows XP by simply reinstalling the OEM CD over a dysfunctional system is said to be the simplest remedy for a number of obscure problems. Googling for that solution turns up an impressive list of "techsperts" offering that approach, among others. Yet, this method is not perfect. My current problem is a case in point. While on the internet one day, my perfectly functional, two-IDE-drive, XP system went bananas. There was a frozen screen, with loss of internet access and eerie app non-response. The first reboot fixed nothing, and a second with chkdsk /F on the boot drive was no help. Although the firewall was still up (ZoneAlarm basic), such "stealth firewalls" can have holes. In any case, the AV scanner would not work, and I had no idea what caliber bogie might have hit the system. Whatever the cause, I had an image backup of the boot drive made only days earlier. It was simple to start the Drive Image 7 rescue CD, and restore the image to its original location-- in this case, as a boot secondary drive with the expected designation of drive D. Now, the problem appeared-- after the restoration to drive D was complete (I made sure the restore operation left drive D the active / boot drive, as it was in the original image), I rebooted into the following message, "NTLDR missing. Please press ctrl-alt-del". My restored XP system secondary / boot drive could not start. There are probably many ways to handle this, but I began by simplifying the problem. I rejumpered both IDE physical drives from a cable-select mode to master/slave mode, with the boot drive master. I moved the primary slave drive from cable-end to cable-middle. Although moving the data cable connector position of the rejumpered drives no longer mattered outside CS mode, it helped prevent future mistakes about drive letters when probing under the hood. The drive which was originally the active partition, but in CS slave position, was now rejumpered master, and showed a primary master status in the BIOS, and came up as drive C.. At this point, you might wonder whether Drive Image 7 recorded the original image in a fashion which would prevent restoration to any other drive letter, master/slave and active status but "drive D, secondary and active"-- but if this were so, the Drive Image 7 restore CD would not have optioned to make the restored partition bootable. Whatever the logic, I already had attempted a full image restore under the original physical and logical drive configuration, and still met the NTLDR error. Now, to the actual restoration. After reading about various solutions, I decided simply to reinstall from the OEM CD onto the existing (but non-starting) boot primary drive. Reason? All my apps and data were there, and had to be brought into play in a working XP system. So, now, I installed from the OEM CD over the original XP system, into the folder c:\windows2 (I had the option to overwrite existing windows files, but wanted to keep as much of the original windows as possible-- so I created c:\windows2). The new xp installation works, but... 1. Problem After the OEM CD reinstall, none of my original, third-party apps work (ie. Adobe Acrobat Reader). All these apps are on the same partition as before, but none of them is functional or appears on the programs menu. While I understood that the overlay of one XP system by another would not destroy user data, I (mistakenly) presumed all my apps would be functional, as well. Yet, broken third-party apps is logical-- if any OS install-by-overlay makes registry changes, this probably is what neutered all my apps but left their data. My word processor documents are all present, but I must reinstall the word processor to read them. Clearly, XP was not designed to be installed over itself. 2. Problem Yet, if the reinstall of XP left at least some of my data, where is the rest of it? And even if reinstalling XP reinstalled Outlook Express, as well, restoring email access, my original OE Address book and all my Inbox email is still missing. And here is the crux of the problem-- to transfer an old OE Address Book into a newly-installed OE, I first must have exported the old OE Address Book from the original app. I cannot go back to the original image to do that, because it won't boot. 3. Solutions? Here is what I have done so far-- immediately after the new XP installation over the original partition restored booting, and after I found original data here and there on the original partition, I made an image of the working, newly-modified partition, just in case something went wrong. Next, I began to probe and search through the working XP system. What I searched for was a simple configuration file which would direct the system to use the original windows folder (c:\windows instead of c:\windows2) . My hope was I could bring back into play all my apps and settings in the repaired system, if only I could instruct windows where to find everything. And I located what appears to be such a file in c:\windows2\repair\setup, and was able to edit it in notepad to show the correct c:\windows folder. (I copied the original of the file "setup" to a floppy, just in case I had to dump it back into c:\windows2 to make it function again.) Now, I rebooted, hoping to operate from the original c:\windows folder. Despite my worries, the system came up beautifully. But still.... it operated from c:\windows2. No Outlook Express address book, no OE inbox filled with original email and folders. No functional third-party apps. Summary of situation 1. OE address book still missing / out of reach And my functional OE inbox is still empty of all original OE folders and original email. 2. Other application data is not in play Under c:\documents and settings\all users, all my application data are still there, but none of the data comes into play even when I login under the same user name as always-- and this includes certain vital personal data used by websites to automate transactions. Again, the OS reinstall probably made wholesale registry changes, and no, there was no registry backup by the user. (Windows keeps a "last good" version of the registry for the "Boot Windows Normally" option, but this F8 boot-time option was tried, already). NOTE: I was able to copy all the original desktop icons for All Users onto the current desktop, but not all original app shortcuts on the desktop work.