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So this is a two part problem.

I was following directions trying to install some software and I misunderstood a poorly written segment of the installation instructions.

This led to me deleting my System Path rather than adding onto the end of it.

In an attempt to get it back I tried to follow these directions off of this website.

You can mount the old version of the registry. 
1.Open Regedit 

 2. Select HKEY_USERS
 3. File->Load Hive
 4. Navigate to your user folder, click the little button to the right of "Open" for "Show Previous Versions"
 5. Select appropriate revision
 6. Select NTUSER.DAT
 7. Give it a name (e.g. "Old")
 8. Navigate to "Old"\Environment

 3. File->Load Hive
 4. Navigate to your C:\Windows\System32\config\RegBack, click the little button to the right of "Open" for "Show Previous Versions"
 5. Select appropriate revision
 6. Select SYSTEM.OLD
 7. Give it a name (e.g. "Old")
 8. Navigate to "Old"\ControlSet001\Control\Session Manager\Environment

Note that for System, depending on how long ago this was, you can just go back into HKLM\(old control set version)\Control\Session Manager\Environment without loading an old hive, but this is a generally useful way to apply "Restore Previous Versions" to the registry.

What this reletively hard to understand piece of advice led me to do was accidentally change the name of a subfolder in my HKEY_USERS folder within my registry. (Using regedit) I need to get my system path back the way it was, but now I CANT system restore, I think because I broke something in the registry. So, if Im assuming correctly that my messed up registry folder is the culprit behind my inability to restore back to an earlier point, how can I fix my misnamed registry folder?

The system restore error message reads as such:

"The system restore did not complete successfully. Your computer's system files and settings were not changed.


The writer experienced a non-transient error. If the backup process is retried, the error is likely to reoccur. (0x800423F4)"

Needless to say, I have tried a couple times, and with different restore points. No avail.

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If you can't use the system restore and can't boot to safe mode in order to reverse what you did then you are out of luck. – Ramhound Apr 16 '13 at 10:44
As you have found out, ALWAYS backup your registry before changing it. I agree with Ramhound, you may be out of luck. But, you could try an repair installation of Windows. – CharlieRB Apr 16 '13 at 11:35

Get a windows install disc and boot to recovery mode (in XP) Windows 7 install disc->Select US->English and repair

You can download a trial Windows 7 here:

From Windows 7 repair select command prompt

cd \system Volume Information
or dir /ah
there should be a folder like _restore{  crazy hex number  }
cd _restore{   crazy hex number  }
you should see many folders that start with RP#### and each one is a restore point
each one has a backup copy of the registry.
there is another folder they are hiding inside(SNAPSHOT)(I think).

copy _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SYSTEM  to c:\windows\system32\config\SYSTEM

and report the results.
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