First I installed the version that you linked with the error message that I pasted here.
Then I installed the previous version again and my configuration was lost.
Ah, now I understood the sequence of events.
Yes, in this case you would indeed lose the configuration because in Akeeba Backup 9.8 we have changed the way the backup engine is included in the component and, as a direct result, we moved the file holding the encryption key for the encrypted settings to a different folder. This happens automatically when you update from Akeeba Backup 9.0–9.7 to 9.8 and later. If you try to downgrade the file is not moved back since we did not know about this change when we released Akeeba Backup 9.0–9.7, therefore we could not have added code to anticipate this.
In general, downgrades cause problems. That's why I had enabled Joomla's feature which prevents downgrades in Akeeba Backup 9.7. Unfortunately, I had to roll this back because the way this feature is implemented in Joomla is useless in practice: if you have a dev release you cannot install a newer dev release in the same version range, or roll back to the previous stable version. I could foresee a huge problem doing support, therefore I had to once again disable this feature.
Is there an easy way to get the configuration back from last night's Akeeba Backup?
The best way is, as you intuited, to restore the backup to a test server, export the configuration, and then import on your real site. All other methods can be more or less problematic.
Nicholas K. Dionysopoulos
Lead Developer and Director
🇬🇷Greek: native 🇬🇧English: excellent 🇫🇷French: basic • 🕐 My time zone is Europe / Athens
Please keep in mind my timezone and cultural differences when reading my replies. Thank you!