Was the admin account removed from the run time file?
If not, then you may just need to change the file extension back and open the file with FileMaker Pro instead of the runtime engine.
It's worth a try at least. I've never heard that such a file couldn't be used to create new runtimes, but that could just be my ignorance showing here.
You can certainly import records from one filemaker file to another. You can use the new table option in the target drop down to create new tables.This does not, however, replicate relationships, layouts, scripts etc. There is a tool I've heard of but haven't used called FMMigrator that may be worth a look.
Change the .exe file? I've tried that. It will not open with Filemaker. It just says the file is damaged but I can change it back so the runtime continues to work. What about the data file (.USR) should I try that one?
I changed the extension of the .USR file and everything seems to work fine. I tried to build another runtime from the file that I converted from runtime and that also works. I had an e-mail from FileMaker tech support that said once the file was converted back to the native Filemaker file, it could not again be made into a runtime. That seems to be wrong. I think it will now be much easier to recover what was lost when the external HD failed.
Thanks for your help
Sounds like you need to set up a system of backups so that the lost of a specific hard drive does not imperil your solution like this in the future.
Back up often. back up to multiple locations. Keep multiple, successive back ups. Back up your data frequently to at least one remote site.
I'm sorry if this sounds snipy, but you should have read the initial post more carefully before deciding to scold a total stranger behind the veil of an internet forum. Had you done so, you would have known that the databases were backed up. It was the back up drive that failed while copying data back to a drive that had just been reformatted. Additionally, you might have found out from the thread that the problem has been addressed and solved.
"A lot of people don't have much food on their table but they've got a lot of forks and knives and they gotta cut something" - Bob Dylan, 1961
Your post indicated that your "data was safe". This is not necessarily the same thing as having back ups of your files as you can back up your data by exporting it to one form or another of a text file (and this is often done) rather than having inact back up copies of your files. Since the drive where you had your files failed and you were wanting to convert your run time files back into FileMaker files I assumed you did not have any other back ups of your files other than the run time copies.
If you have back up copies of your files, you do not need to convert your run time files back into regular FileMaker files. Instead, you can use your back up files--saving a clone and importing the data if the back up does not contain the most recent data.
Sounds like setting up an admin function to export data from the run time and saving a clone of the database before building the runtime are good ideas.