View Full Version : Personalizing a Used PC

Red Savina
12-15-2011, 09:46 PM
I got a good bargain ($20) on a Dell PC with XP Home Edition SP2. The System Properties General tab says my computer is registered to 'the previous owner's name'. How do I tell Microsoft (and my PC) I am the new owner?

I uninstalled some games and other software I didn't want and deleted over 30,000 files (a few Gigabytes), mostly in the temporary internet files folders, but still the Properties for the C: drive barely show any decrease in the amount of used space. The Recycle Bin has been emptied. Have these files all been saved somewhere else? Even as Administrator I am not allowed to see inside the "System Volume Information" folder.

I would like to get a good clean image of the "minimized" system partition before I start loading it up again.

When I press F8 to get the boot options menu, I get two choices to start Windows XP, but only the first one works. Looking inside "boot.ini" I see that there is a second choice to start XP on partition(2), but there is only one partition on the HDD. Even as Adminsitrator I am not allowed to edit it -> "file is read only", but the security tab for this file says the Administrators group has full access. How do I fix "boot.ini"?

Paul Komski
12-16-2011, 09:49 PM
WinDirStat (http://windirstat.info/) is good at telling you what is where.

SystemVolumeInformation can be accessed if you really want to but with XP Home you must startup in Safe Mode and as an Admin you can then get into the Security section of Folder Options and change the permissions.

Stopping System Restore can often regain significant space as can doing away with hibernation if it is enabled. Disk Cleanup from a partitons properties should also get you back some wasted space.

F8 during startup should give you the Safe Mode Options; most Dells use F12 to give you the boot options; either that or F2 to get into the BIOS and change the boot order there. An alternative way to get into SafeMode is to change the setting by running msconfig from the run box and setting the SafeBoot option.

You don't have to register with MS - and little point with XP which has gone beyond the normal support lifetime.

Registered Owner is at
HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion
To change the name of the registered owner, double-click RegisteredOwner
You edit the Registry at your own risk of course.

Change the ReadOnly attribute of boot.ini in order to edit it.

If you have the product key then I would myself do a clean reinstallation having first backed up the drivers with MyDrivers (http://www.zhangduo.com/).

Red Savina
12-17-2011, 05:56 AM
Thanks for the tips. Unchecked the "read-only" box for boot.ini and I was able to edit it, then reset it for safe keeping. I was surprised that the "write" permission for Administrators did not supercede this "read-only" attribute.

The owner name in the registry was easy to fix.

Turning off system restore freed up about 500 MB. There is about 1.25GB of installed software showing in Add or Remove Programs, 200MB in C:\DELL, 260MB in C:\MSOCache, and 990MB in C:\SavedData (lots of music CDs), plus the folders that comprise the OS and a 1.5GB paging file. The C drive has 9.1GB of used space now.

The key for XP is stuck to the side of the case. I would wipe it clean and reinstall XP, BUT..... It has MS Office Small Business Edition 2003 on it, and the Office CDs were not in the bargain. Is it possible to reconstitute the installation CDs from the Office setup files in C:\MSOCache? What about the Office product key?

Paul Komski
12-17-2011, 07:23 AM
You might like to try and experiment with OpenOffice (http://www.openoffice.org/) (free open source software) that does just about everything that MSO will do. It would also cope with more modern versions of MSO suite.

Don't know if Belarc Advisor (http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html) can pull the MSO key.

Red Savina
12-19-2011, 12:09 PM
Belarc found the key for MSO. It is "probably-not-for-public-consumption". Can the installation CD be reconstituted from the Office setup files in C:\MSOCache?

It is interesting that the key found for Windows XP does not match the sticker on the side of the case.

12-19-2011, 12:26 PM
It is interesting that the key found for Windows XP does not match the sticker on the side of the case.

That's often the case if XP has never been reinstalled. The factory key is not the individualized one on the case.

Not sure about reconstituting the install CD, but if the the install files are present you should be able, at least, to make a regular data CD and then manually run the installers.

Red Savina
12-19-2011, 02:01 PM
The directory structure (in part, no files until):

C:\MSOcache\All Users\90000409-6000-8CFE-0150048383C9\

In here a "FILES" folder and 88 cabinet files. In the FILES folder there is a SETUP folder that contains only one file: "OSE.EXE" (Office Source Engine). So my best guess is that I would create a data CD with the FILES folder, the 88 CAB files and an autorun.inf file in the root of the CD which contains:

open=files\setup\ose.exe -autorun

MSOcache contains about 260MB. Does that sound about right?

Is "90000409-6000-8CFE-0150048383C9" the volume label of the original CD?