Recovering Dreamweaver Site Definitions on Windows

by James Cook on December 4, 2010

Unfortunately, Dreamweaver occasionally loses all of its site definitions. It's a rare occurrence but that's no consolation when it happens to you. A while back I published Recovering Lost Site Definitions which (naturally enough) explained how to recover lost site definitions on a Mac. It's simply a matter of restoring the appropriate file:

Dreamweaver CS5 Mac stores site definitions in the file:

Macintosh HD:Users:<username>:Library:Application Support:Adobe:Common:11:Sites:Site Prefs

Dreamweaver CS4 Mac stores site definitions in the file:

Macintosh HD:Users:<username>:Library:Application Support:Adobe:Common:10:Sites:Site Prefs

For CS3 the file is:

Macintosh HD:Users:<username>:Library:Application Support:Adobe:Common:9:Sites:Site Prefs

Substitute your user name for <username> and, if you have renamed your computer’s hard drive, sub your drive’s name for Macintosh HD. The colons separate folder names.

The key, of course, is having a backup to work from. Fortunately the MacOS now comes with Time Machine which, if activated, can make those backups automatically. If you don't have Time Machine, you have to back up the appropriate file manually.

On the Windows side, life is not so easy. As I stated in my original article, the Windows version of Dreamweaver stores its site definitions in the Windows registry. I'm not a Windows expert and, at the time, I didn't know of any method to restore the appropriate Registry key. I recently revisited the issue and found Back up Dreamweaver site definitions using the Windows registry at www.josh.biz.

The appropriate locations are:

  • Adobe Dreamweaver CS 5 – HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Adobe\Common\11\Sites
  • Adobe Dreamweaver CS 4 – HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Adobe\Common\10\Sites
  • Adobe Dreamweaver CS 3 – HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Adobe\Common\9\Sites
  • Macromedia Dreamweaver 8 – HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Macromedia\Common\8\Sites
  • Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004 – HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Macromedia\Common\2004\Sites

However, I'm going to suggest you visit the josh.biz website via the link above for the full instructions, limitations of the process and caveats. Once again, the key is having a backup. If you're experiencing the issue now, it might be a little late for that but, for future use, the article explains how to back up the registry key and restore it in the future.

Dazza July 20, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Awesome article that helped me achieve a manual move of site information. I opened the NTUSER.DAT file from my old hard disk via a USB to SATA connection on my new laptop. Found the registry keys as listed here. Exported them to a .reg file, modified the file to upload to the correct HKEY_CURRENT_USER and then double clicked to import into my laptop. Needed to modify the _Summary entry in that registry area to reflect the total number of imported sites and done! Perfectly imported 31 sites to my current config without have to startup the old hard disk. Couldn’t have done it without this article!! Thanks HEAPS!

Alex D April 2, 2014 at 4:20 am

Recovery Instructions for “lost” user profile on Windows XP.

Dreamweaver 8 “Site” configuration is, in fact, stored in Windows registry. Thanks to dwcourse.com for pointing to the right direction.

Note: Although these instructions are for an XP (yea I’m still using it) similar procedure can be used on other Windows OS’s. The path to your windows profile will be somewhat different i.e. C:\Users\…

Your “sites” have disappeared because Windows have logged you into a new Windows profile. Basically, you are a new user as far as Windows is concerned even though your login ID is the same. Most likely, many of your Desktop icons, shortcuts, and other personalizations have also disappeared. This happened to me a number of times while joining and removing my computers to/from a domain.

(!) If you intentionally created a new user account that you want to keep, do not continue with this recovery. Instead, login into your old (working) account, “Export” your sites, login into your new account and “Import” your sites. This way you’ll basically copy site configuration and it will be available for both accounts.

(!) The profile that we are going to switch to should be in good working condition. This means that it used to work fine before you did some identifiable action to your computer. If loss of previous profile was caused by a virus or disk/registry corruption switching to it won’t help and can actually make things worse. If you suspect that this could be the case, I suggest to run a good Antivirus, disk check, registry repair tool, and any other tool you can think of, to find out why this happened.

So, If you did not intend to create a new user profile, but Windows did it anyways do this:

1) You need to be able to see hidden files and folders on your PC.
Open Windows Explorer and go to Tools -> Folder Options -> View. Enable “Display the content of system folder”, “Show hidden files and folders”. Uncheck “Hide protected operating system files”.

2) Go to “C:\Documents and Settings” and make a note of all the folder names.
Folder that corresponds to your current unwanted profile will have additional characters added to it such as computer name or 000. In my case, I had “Administrator.000”.

3) Identify the folder that used to hold your old profile. In my case, it was “Administrator” without any extensions. Look at the “Date created” property, if that helps.

The file NTUSER.DAT in this folder is the actual registry database where all the configuration related to HKEY_CURRENT_USER is stored. This is just FYI. We’re not going to mess around with this particular file alone because our goal is to restore entire profile including all previous icons, shortcuts, application ID’s and settings, Favorites, etc.

3) Run regedit.exe .
Click on “My Computer’. Go to menu Edit -> Find (or Ctrl+F).
Type the name of the folder that you identified in step 2. Make sure “Keys”, “Values”, and “Data” checkboxes are all checked.
Click “Find next” button. Regedit will search for that value and stop when it finds a match.
Replace “Administrator.000” with “Administrator” or whichever names applicable in your case. Be careful not to erase or delete entire value or key. Just double-click on it to edit and modify it in-place. In my case, I simply erased “.000” characters.
Repeat this action until all occurrences have been replaced.
Note: The sooner you do this after Windows screwed up your profile the fewer replacements you will have to make.

4) Close regedit and REBOOT. Log-off may not be sufficient. XP seems to keep current (unwanted) NTUSER.DAT open (and probably will attempt to use it) until PC is actually powered down.

5) Login back into your system. Everything should be back to normal again.

6) You may want to go back to “C:\Documents and Settings” and delete folder that contains your unwanted profile (such as “Administrator.000”)

Best of luck!

JD January 19, 2011 at 4:53 am

You can easily export ALL the site definitions at the same time from Dreamweaver’s “Manage Sites” dialog box:

1. In “Manage Sites” select all websites then click “Export …”
2. Choose ‘Backup my settings’ as the preferred option, this will save all site details including passwords.
3. You will be offered a filename of the first website only (with a saved file extension of .ste)
4. Select a folder (preferably on a Flash drive or other media which can be stored separate from your computer) to save the backup files in and click Export.
5. Go to the selected folder and you will see .ste files for ALL the sites you had listed.

To restore the settings:

1. In “Manage Sites” click “Import …”
2. Browse to the chosen location and you select all the .ste files you wish to import.
3. Click “Import …”

You can also use this method to move the definitions to a new machine but you will need to make sure the setup of the new machine (file and folder names) mirrors the old one or the local information will be broken.

jcook February 4, 2011 at 8:28 am

Thanks for the tip JD. It’s a good one and a time saver.

I hope you don’t mind my editing your comment a bit

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