I think I have it figured out for real this time. (As it turned out, NOT YET!)
1. Create .sql dump files of your databases for safe keeping.
2. If you had been using Virtual Host Containers that worked, copy the text for those from your http-conf file and save in a text file for reuse later.
3. Completely uninstall xampp (all copies) from your machine (and any connected external drive).
4. Do a system search for "xampp" to see if any xampp-related registry files are hanging around. (I didn't have any.) If you find any, back up your registry first (do it
), and then
delete the files you find.
5. I found some prefetch files from the old installs at c:\WINDOWS\Prefetch. Might as well delete those too if you have them.
6. In Windows, go Start > Control Panel > Windows Firewall > Exceptions tab. Under Programs and Services find all the entries for apache, mysql, and xampp. Delete each one by clicking the name to highlight it and then clicking the Delete button. Say OK each time. Even if the paths look OK (which you can see by using the Edit button), delet all instances of these xampp-related entries.
7. Install a new version of xampp in the root drive (c:\), and do the MD5 check to make sure it's good. (I used the 7-zip executable.). Do not try and start it up!!
8.Do a system search for the file named my.ini. Mine was located at C:\WINDOWS\my.ini. Open the file and make sure the contained server path is exactly c:/xampp/mysql/bin/mysqld-nt.exe. If you're having the same problem I was, this path is most likely wrong when you open the file. Mine was pointing to a file respective to my very fist xampp installation (c:\apachefriends\xampp\...etc), which was long since gone. It's this step in particular that should go into Xammp documentation for addressing path fixes for MySQL.
9. Close everything and reboot your computer.
10. Open a command prompt, change directory to c:\xampp, and run setup_xampp.bat. You should see a normal initialization process output and be ready to go.
11. At the same command prompt, run apache_start.bat. You should see Windows Firewall asking to unblock access. Unblock, and then see a normal apache start process. Your shell will be frozen while apache is running.
12. And now for the cherry, open a new command prompt shell, change directory to c:\xampp, and run mysql_start.bat. Again you should see Windows Firewall asking to unblock the access. Unblock, and watch with happiness as mysql starts without problems:
That's it. From there it's back to configuring xampp as you normally would, setting up your databases, etc.
The key to discovery was realizing that the "my" (my.cnf) shortcut was pointing to the my.ini file. Once I realized this, found the my.ini file, and opened it, it was immediatly clear where the problem was hidden (the server path in the my.ini file).[/img]