Registry backup – How to do one

By | August 22, 2009

The fault tolerance of all Windows operating systems is pretty well zero. If the registry becomes corrupt your computer cannot run, let alone start! Because of this extreme dependence on the registry, Windows implements an all or nothing guarantee in its registry. What this means is that if you are in the process of editing a registry key and your system suddenly turns off, or you close the window, or for any other reason the changes you are making were not finished, Windows will revert to the old registry settings.

Because a functional registry is about the most important piece of programming in your OS, you should always keep a backup of your registry if you intend to make any changes to it. Before making any changes to the registry it is worth mentioning that you should use extreme caution when making any changes. Often it is not necessary to change the registry manually to correct a problem you might be experiencing. Only perform registry edits when you have no other choice.

To begin backing up your registry:

  • Click Start>Run.
  • Type in Regedit and click OK.
  • Once the Registry Editor is open, click on HKEY_USERS.

registry-editor

  • Click on File (at the top), then Export (in the menu).

registry-export

  • Select the destination file. Name the file anything you might like. Add a date so you know what and when you created it by just glancing at it.
  • Ensure the Selected Branch option is selected at the bottom of the export registry file box. Also be sure the correct key is selected in the text file.
  • Click Save

You can choose to back up one key or the entire registry in this fashion. It is essential that if you intend to make changes to the registry, or even if you are just thinking about installing a program that you do not entirely trust, a registry backup should be the first thing you do.

Now that you have your registry backed up, what are you going to do with it? If your registry was damaged in such a way that your system cannot start up correctly, here’s what you can do to correct the errors you might have made. In Windows XP, pressing F8 while your machine is booting up will take you to a black screen with the following options:

registry-configurations

  • Select Last Known Good Configuration.  This process should take care of it self at this point.

If the damage to the registry is so bad that Last Known Good Configuration did not correct the issue, you have two more options. You can choose to use third party backup/restore software to correct the issue, or do a fresh reinstall of Windows. Redoing your XP installation will correct the problem with your registry – if it wasn’t such a pain to carry out each and every time 🙂

If you are using a third party registry backup system be sure that your program is capable of functioning without a working Windows platform because at this stage your PC will not be able to boot to Windows.

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