The registry is a database in Windows that keeps configuration settings and options for the operating system. Things like the kernel, device drivers, SAM and user interface all use the registry. The registry will store settings for these low level components and applications. It is good practice to make a fairly regular backup of your registry, just in case things go bad. This guide will talk you through some of the different processes to backup and also how to restore.
The first method is perhaps the simplest. First, ensure that you are logged in on an administrator account. If you aren’t then you will be only able to change settings that apply specifically to your account.
On Windows 7, click the Start button, type regedit into the search box and then select the program. This will launch the Registry Editor. You may be asked for an administrator password or confirmation; provide the necessary information if needs be. Then, navigate to the key or subkey that you wish to backup and then click it to highlight it. You can select multiple choices if you wish. Then go to File and then click Export. When the save box comes up, it is recommended that you save the registry file to a different drive (like a USB stick, for instance).
If you want to restore after you have used this method then load up regedit again. Then click File and then click on Import. Navigate to where you saved the registry backup originally and select it. Your backup will then be imported into the registry and overwrite any previous settings. You may get an error that “some keys are open by the system or other processes”. If this is the case then you will have to use the second method, as described below.
The second method is probably the most effective. This involves using System Restore to create a save point that your system is able to roll back to. Not only that, but System Restore holds a lot more than just the registry. It also contains other system information that Windows 7 makes use of. However, be aware that it does not save any of your personal data. A separate backup solution will be required for that.
To create a System Restore point, press the Start button and type System Restore into the search box and select the program. You may be told that no restore points have been created on your system’s drive. If so, click System Protection to launch a new window. Here, click the Create button and describe the restore point when prompted. Then, click Create again and the restore point will be established. If you need to roll back to that point in time, simply load up the System Restore program and select the save you made.
Hopefully this guide has made it clear on how to back up your registry manually. Some programs may automatically make a copy of your registry in their process, but do not assume that all of them do.
How to Backup and Restore the Registry
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