by Barry Dysert
(last updated May 17, 2021)
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. The way you create a restore point varies slightly depending on your version of Windows.
To create a restore point, follow these steps if you are using Windows 10:
Figure 1. The Windows 10 System dialog box.
Figure 2. The Windows 10 System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box.
In Windows 8 the way in which you access the system area is just a bit different than in Windows 10:
Figure 3. The Windows 8 System dialog box.
Figure 4. The Windows 8 System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box.
If you are using Windows 7 the steps are different still. (The biggest difference is how you get to the first dialog box.) Follow these steps:
Figure 5. The Windows 7 System dialog box.
Figure 6. The Windows 7 System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box.
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.
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