How To Backup Your Windows Registry

The Windows registry is a vital component of your Windows system, therefore, you must handle any changes and edits to the registry with care. Many experts recommend that you make a registry backup:

  • Before making any direct changes to it.
  • Before installing a large software application.
  • Before making any major system configuration changes.

There are several ways to a create registry backup. In this article we are going to discuss the three most commonly used methods to backup your Windows XP registry.

Backup Using System Restore

System Restore is a disaster recovery tool that is shipped with your Windows XP operating system. This tool is usually enabled on your Windows XP system by default and it works by taking regular snapshots of your system configuration information and registry. You can also take a snapshot manually before making any major changes to your system or installing and uninstalling a program.

When you perform system restore, all your user files, such as Word documents, Internet History, emails, etc, stay intact and only your registry and system files are restored to the time when the snapshot was taken.

Although this tool is quite useful to recover from disasters, it is not the best tool to create registry backups because when you perform system restore, all system configuration information is also reverted to the previous state. Moreover, System Restore keeps purging old snapshots, and if you need to rollback registry changes done a long time ago, there may be a chance that System Restore might have purged that particular snapshot.

To run System Restore in order to create new snapshot or restore them, select Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and select System Restore and follow the screen instructions in the System Restore dialog box to perform your task.

Backup Using the Registry Editor

Registry Editor enables you to back up the entire or just a small part of the registry. You can open Registry Editor by running the “regedit” file from Start > Run.

Now, to create a backup of the registry from here, perform the following steps:

  1. Open the File menu and select Export.
  2. In the Export Registry File dialog box that opens, select the location where you want to save the backup file and enter the name of the backup file in the File name box.
  3. If you want to backup the entire registry, then in the Export range section select All or to backup only a small portion of the registry select Selected branch and type in the branch in the text box provided.

The backup will be saved in the specified location and the file will carry the extension .reg. To restore Windows XP registry from this backup, you just need to double-click on the backup file and confirm your decision in the message that is displayed.

Backup Using Registry Utility

There are many third party utilities available today that you can use to perform various registry maintenance activities including repairing registry error and creating registry backup. An advanced registry cleaner, usually comes with two registry backup options—full backup and selective backup with undo option.

Full backup, as the name suggests, enables you to backup and restore the entire registry. Although useful, one of the main disadvantages of full backups is that when you restore, all changes performed since the backup was taken are lost. This is where selective backups come to your rescue. These backups enable you to backup and restore only a small portion of the registry. This way, when you restore only the affected portion is affected and the rest of the registry stays intact.

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