How to Back Up and Restore the Windows Registry

From the inception of Windows 95, the Windows operating system stores virtually everything it knows about your computer in an hierarchical database known as the registry. It is responsible for storing configuration settings, user preferences, launch instructions and other important information relevant to the operation of your PC.

Due to its sensitivity, it is vital that this area remain healthy to keep your computer stable and running at an optimal level. Because all of this data is stored in one centralized area, it is fairly easy to make adjustments and edits to remove invalid or unwanted entries. However, manually tampering with the registry is potentially dangerous as one false move could actually damage your operating system and render it inoperable.

Therefore, it becomes necessary to backup this database before making any changes. Should something go wrong, this will give you the ability to restore the registry to a normal working state and retrace your steps.

Backing up the Registry with System Restore

You have a number of options for backing up the registry and one is a tool called System Restore. Built into Vista and XP versions of the Windows operating system, the System Restore utility lets you create a restore point to revert your PC back to a time before it encountered problems when making a certain change.

A restore point is simply a snapshot of the system state, which generally includes system data and the entire registry. If you have System Restore enabled, Windows will automatically create restore points on a regular basis depending on how much disk space is allocated to the feature.

To restore the Windows registry with System Restore, follow the steps below:

  1. Open the “Start” menu, highlight “All Programs”, choose “Accessories”, then “System Tools” and select “System Restore” from the sub-menu.
  2. Click on “Create a restore point” and then click “Next.”
  3. Next, enter a name for the desired restore point and click on the “Create” tab. For this step, make sure that you enter a relevant name so you can identify the point you will be restoring the system to.
  4. Click “Create” and that’s it.

Your restore point has been created and your Windows registry is now backed up on the system.

Restoring the Registry with System Restore

Restoring the Windows registry is quite similar to backing it up with the System Restore utility. From inside of System Restore, click on “Restore my computer to an earlier time’” and then click “Next.” From here, you will be presented with a calendar, usually of the current month. You will notice that some of the dates on the calendar are marked bold. These bold dates represent your restore points. Select one of the bold dates and then choose a restore point from the box to the right of the calendar.

After you have found a desirable restore point, click “Next” and then confirm your selection. If all goes well when completing these steps, the registry will be restored and the system will automatically restart.

Backing up the Registry with the Registry Editor

Another option you have for backing up the registry is regedit, an editing tool built into the Windows operating system. Although this utility can be a bit intimidating, performing this task is actually quite simply. To back up the Windows registry with regedit, follow the steps below:

  1. Open the “Start” menu, click on “Run”, type “regedit” into the command field and press “Enter.”
  2. Next, click “File” and then select “Export
  3. Give the backup registry file a name and then choose the option that allows you to save as “All files.”

That’s it. The backup file of your registry has been created. Now it’s all about knowing how to restore it.

Restoring the Registry with the Registry Editor

If you thought performing a backup with the regedit tool was simple, restoring the registry is even easier. All you have to do is refer to the steps below:

  1. Open the “Start” menu, click on “Run”, type “regedit” into the command field and press “Enter.”
  2. Next, click “File” and this time, select “Import.”
  3. Lastly, browse Windows to locate the registry file and then double-click it or click “open.”

That’s it. The backup file for your registry has been restored and opened on the system. As a precautionary measure, it is strongly recommended to store your backup file in a safe place, preferably on removable media such as a CD/DVD or USB flash drive. This will allow you to restore the registry should your system become unstable and the backup file inaccessible.

Tags: ,

Run a PC performance scan

3 Responses to “How to Back Up and Restore the Windows Registry”

Leave a Reply