How to Backup and Restore the Windows Registry

How to Backup and Restore the Windows Registry

As you might already know: Windows Registry is a database that contains the configurations and settings of applications, services and anything else running on your Windows operating system and modifying the values of registry keys can cause the system or installed programs to become unresponsive. That is why, when editing the Windows Registry, it is always a good idea to create a backup before changing any values, so that you can easily restore it in case something goes wrong. Also, creating a backup of the Windows Registry can be useful when reinstalling your operating system, but I will explain it in more details below.

There are several ways in which your can create a backup of the Windows Registry, some more efficient than others. I will present these methods and you will decide which one suits you best.

Create a backup of the entire Registry using Windows Registry Editor

To open the Registry Editor, you need to launch regedit.exe. A simple search will help you do that in a matter of seconds. Once you have done that, all you need to do is select the "Computer" entry in the right corner of the window and either right-click it and select "Export" (as seen in the image below) or go to "File" and choose the "Export" option. You might want to give the exported file an intuitive name, such as "Registry Backup" and save it in an easily accessible location.

Export Windows RegistryExport Windows Registry

To restore the Windows Registry, you can either double-click on the backup file or select the "Computer" entry from the Registry Editor, go to "File" and click on "Import". You might want to make sure that the source file is trusted (not downloaded from the Internet or exported by you), because, otherwise, it can cause harm to your system and make your applications, components and services stop working correctly (a warning message will appear before loading the backup file). 

However, this method is not that efficient, as you will, most likely, receive an error telling you that some of the registry keys were not restored because they are being used by your system or other applications. 

Registry ErrorRegistry Error

This method could be useful if you are not planning on making serious changes to the Windows Registry such as installing new applications. Luckily, there are other ways to create a backup of your registry keys that can prove to be more efficient.

Create backups of sections from the Windows Registry using Registry Editor (Regedit)

This is one of the most common ways to create a backup of your registry keys in case you want to modify the settings of an application or other sections that you might want to edit. Simply navigate to the desired section, right-click on it and select the "Export" option. Then, just like I've mentioned before, save it in an easily accessible location and give it a recognisable name. 

Backup SectionBackup Section

Restoring the backup is very simple and all you have to do is to either double-click the exported file or navigate to the section you want to restore, select it and choose the "Import" option under the "File" menu.

As mentioned in the first part of this article, creating a backup of a section from Windows Registry can help restore application settings even after reinstalling your operating system. Simply reinstall the desired program, restore the created backup file and you will have all of your old settings back (it works most of the times).

Create a backup of Windows Registry using third-party applications

If you don't want to use Windows Registry Editor to create a backup of your registry keys, there are also several applications that can help you do the job. One of them is the freeware Registry Backup from Tweaking.com. This program will help you create a backup and restore your Windows Registry with just a click of a mouse. 

The window that appears after you launch Registry Backup will allow you to select the registry keys you want to back up (see image). Once you have chosen the desired items, simply click on the "Backup Now" button and wait for the process to finish. You might also want to change the location of the backup file (by clicking on the "Settings" tab) and, optionally, the name ("Manual Backup" by default). 

Registry Backup Main WindowRegistry Backup Main Window

Restoring the Windows Registry is also a very simple task. All you need to do is click on the "Restore Registry" tab, select the backup which you want to restore from the drop-down menu and click on the "Restore Now" button. 

Restore TabRestore Tab

If you want to use other freeware applications for creating a backup of your Windows Registry, then RegBak or Registrar Registry Manager are two good alternatives.

Create a backup of the Windows Registry using System Restore

Last, but not least, you can efficiently create a backup and restore your Windows Registry using System Restore. Even though System Restore is commonly used for rolling back the state of your system to an earlier date in case you have installed applications or drivers that make your computer crash or your operating system behave unpredictably, it also creates a complete backup of your Windows Registry. Nevertheless, in order to restore the Windows Registry, you first need to create a restore point. In order to do that, simply use Windows search function and type "create a restore point". Now, select your primary partition (C:/) and click on the "Create" button.

Create Restore PointCreate Restore Point

To restore Windows Registry and your entire system, use the search function and type "System Restore". A window will open from where you can select the restore point you want to mount and a wizard will guide you through the rest of the process.

It is recommended that you restore your system settings while in Safe Mode.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are several ways to create a backup of your Windows Registry and restore it later. No matter what method you choose, make sure that you always restart your system for the changes to apply. 


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