Backing Up the Windows Registry

by Barry Dysert
(last updated May 7, 2018)

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:

  1. Display the Control Panel
  2. Choose the System and Security Link. This opens the System and Security window of the Control Panel.
  3. Choose the System option. Windows displays the System area of the Control Panel. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Windows 10 System dialog box.

  5. 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.)
  6. Figure 2. The Windows 10 System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box.

  7. 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 you can create it.

In Windows 8 the way in which you access the system area is just a bit different than in Windows 10:

  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 3.)
  3. Figure 3. The Windows 8 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 4.)
  5. Figure 4. The Windows 8 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 you can create it.

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:

  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 5.)
  2. Figure 5. The Windows 7 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 6.)
  4. Figure 6. The Windows 7 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 35 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer. He is currently a software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. When not working with Windows or writing Tips, Barry is an amateur writer. His first non-fiction book is titled "A Chronological Commentary of Revelation." ...

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