Backing Up the Windows Registry

by Barry Dysert
(last updated January 5, 2015)

The Windows Registry is at the heart of the Windows operating system. The Registry is a set of system files constructed into a database that contains system-level and application-level parameters on both a machine and a user basis. If the Registry were to become corrupted it could render your system unusable, so it's important to make regular backups of it so you can restore a good copy of the Registry if necessary.

The best way to protect yourself is to take a backup of the complete Registry. This can be done by creating a restore point, since the Registry is included in restore points. To create a restore point, follow these steps if you are using Windows 8:

  1. Move the mouse pointer into the very bottom-left corner of the screen and right-click. You should see a Context menu appear.
  2. Choose the System option. Windows displays the System area of the Control Panel. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The System dialog box.

  4. Click the System Protection link at the left of the dialog box. Windows displays the System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  5. Figure 2. The System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box.

  6. Click the System Restore button. You will then be taken through a wizard that allows you to select what Restore Point you wish to use and then perform the restore.

If you are using Windows 7 the steps are a bit different. (The biggest difference is how you get to the first dialog box.) Follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, right-click Computer, and select Properties from the resulting Context menu. Windows displays the System area of the Control Panel. (See Figure 3.)
  2. Figure 3. The System dialog box.

  3. Click the System Protection link at the left of the dialog box. Windows displays the System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box. (See Figure 4.)
  4. Figure 4. The System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box.

  5. Select the Local Disk (under the Protection Settings group) and click the Create button. You will then be prompted to enter a description for the Restore Point, and you can create it.

If you are just making small, isolated changes to the Registry, you may want to simply back up a particular "hive" (a set of Registry keys and values) instead of backing up the entire thing. Exporting a portion of the Registry is covered under another tip.

 This tip (12206) applies to Windows 7 and 8.

Author Bio

Barry Dysert

Barry has been a computer professional for over 30 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer.  He is currently a senior software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. ...

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