My first boot of the day took quite awhile to start up. Maybe it was copying the SYSTEM.DAT and USER.DAT files from the backup. No they are not in c:windows. Look around for awhile. There they are in D:WINDOWS, on my old drive, with the current date and time. When I deleted the registry from the C drive, instead of using a backup, it found the files on the D drive and must have started using those. Rename them, and reboot and they are created again on the C drive, but some very old copies of them were used, about 6 months old! Unprotect and rename the C drive registry files, unprotect and copy the D drive files to the C drive and reprotect. Reboot. Check now: SYSTEM.DAT and USER.DAT now have correct dates and times.
In the process of doing all this, also noticed a whole bunch of 0-length .tmp files in the c:windows directory. It seems two were created at every reboot. But they started way back on October 28, 2002. There were 318 pairs of them. What did I do then to cause that? I search for files modified on that date and find that was when I upgraded from Internet Explorer version 5.5 to Version 6. I search on Google (my favorite search engine) for “.tmp files 0-length c:windows” and bingo: the first link is a query about my exact question. The answer leads me to Microsoft’s support article, “OFF2000: Files Whose Name Begins with “fff” Appear in Windows Folder“. Apparently, just like Microsoft Office, IE 6.0 installs the Machine Debug Manager (or Mdm.exe) which creates the links in the c:windows directory at startup and does not clean up after itself. Well, I don’t want to debug machine instructions when scripts fail, so I check the IE option: “Disable script debugging”, remove the MDM from my startup files, delete all the 636 0-length .tmp files in my c:windows directory (releasing about 4 MB of space!) and reboot. Nice! All cleaned up. I bet that Mdm.exe program is responsible for a few computer freezes in the past, especially when my kids are doing java or flash games online.
Finally, five days and 12 hours of work later, my hardware install and related issues all seem fixed. Now, back to Behold.