3 Ways to Backup and Restore the Windows Registry

Make registry changes safely

by: - Last updated on: March 13th, 2022
Key Takeaways
  • Windows Registry is a database that contains low-level configurations and settings related to the Windows operating system and various programs.
  • As such, if you’re thinking of tweaking the Windows Registry, it’s crucial to take a backup of your system’s registry.
  • Doing so ensures that, if your registry hack fails and breaks something on your computer, you can restore it back to its default settings.

Windows Registry or simply registry is a repository that stores low-level configurations and settings associated with the Windows operating system and its various programs. It’s one of those system components you should avoid tampering with to avoid running into problems on your PC.

backup and restore Windows Registry

However, at times, you may want to modify the registry, perhaps to enable a hidden feature or tweak a specific system setting. But because registry hacks can sometimes lead to unintended consequences, you must backup the registry before any of your registry hacks.

Irrespective of the Windows operating system you’re using, there are three ways to backup its registry. Follow along as we discuss the instructions to backup and restore Windows Registry in Windows.

How to Create a Backup for Your Windows Registry

All Windows operating systems, including Windows 10 and Windows 11, offer you three ways to backup the Windows Registry. First, you can create a backup of a particular registry key in your registry. Second, you can backup the whole registry, and third, you can create a system restore point before making changes to the registry.

Method 1: Create a Backup of a Particular Key in Windows Registry

With most registry hacks, you have to modify the value of a particular key in your Windows Registry. Like, for instance, the Lock Screen registry hack in Windows 10 requires you to change the value of the Windows key inside your registry.

With such (and other similar) registry tweaks, rather than backing up the entire Windows Registry, which would take a backup of all the keys (and their values), you can instead just backup the one particular key you’re about to modify.

Follow these steps to backup a particular Windows Registry key:

  1. Hit Windows+R to bring up Run and type regedit.
  2. Click OK or hit Enter. And, in the User Account Control prompt, click Yes.
  3. In Registry Editor, navigate to the key you’re about to modify. For this, you can either click through the directories on the left-hand pane to traverse the registry keys or click on the search box at the top and enter the key path.
  4. Select the key you want to backup.
    backup Windows Registry
  5. Click on the File menu and select Export.
    backup Windows Registry
  6. Choose the location where you want to save the backup of this key.
  7. Enter a name for the backup file.
  8. Select the Selected branch radio option under Export range.
    backup Windows Registry
  9. Hit Save to save the file.

Method 2: Create a Backup of the Entire Windows Registry

Creating a backup of individual registry keys is helpful when you’re making changes to just a few registry keys, but it’s not ideal if you’re about to tweak a bunch of keys on your system.

In such a situation, a better way to backup Windows Registry is to take a backup of the entire registry keys. To do this, head over to the Registry Editor and follow these steps:

  1. Scroll all the way to the top in the registry hierarchy and select Computer.
    backup Windows Registry
  2. Click on File and hit Export.
    backup Windows Registry
  3. In the Export Registry File dialog box, select the location where you want to save the registry backup and add a name for this file.
  4. Select the All radio button in the Export range.
    backup Windows Registry
  5. Click Save to save your whole Windows Registry.

It might take a while to backup and save the entire registry. Also, the backup registry file would be quite large in this case.

Method 3: Backup the Windows Registry Using System Restore

System Restore is a built-in tool on Windows operating systems that allows you to restore your computer to its previous functioning state free of any errors. It’s essentially a snapshot of various system components, including the Windows Registry.

Hence, if you don’t want to manually backup the registry, you can use System Restore to create a restore point. Since it backs up all other settings (system files, hardware drivers, etc.), you’re essentially backing up your entire system.

Follow these steps to create a restore point:

  1. Hit Start and search restore point.
  2. Click on the Create a restore point result.
  3. Before you create a restore point, you need to turn on Protection Settings for the volume you want to backup. In our case, it’s the C drive. To turn it on, select C from the list of drives under Protection Settings and hit Configure. Select the Turn on system protection option and hit OK.
    backup Windows Registry
  4. Now, back in the System Properties dialog box, click on Create.
  5. Add a description/name to this restore point and hit Create.
    backup Windows Registry

Wait a few seconds for Windows to create the restore point. Once it’s ready, you’ll see a prompt that says The restore point was created successfully.

How to Restore Your Windows Registry Backup

If, for some reason, your registry hack fails and that causes it to break something on your computer, you can restore your Windows Registry backup to fix it. Microsoft offers two ways to do this. The method you choose depends on how you backed up your Windows Registry.

Method 1: Restore the Windows Registry Manually

If you created a backup of your Windows Registry manually using the Import option inside the Registry Editor, you’d end up with a .reg file. It’s this file that you need to restore on your device to reinstate its Windows Registry.

Here are the instructions you need to follow:

  1. Open Run and search for regedit to launch the Registry Editor.
  2. In the Registry Editor, select Computer and click on File > Import.
    restore Windows Registry
  3. In the Import Registry File dialog box, go to the file location where you saved the registry backup, select it, and hit Open.

Wait for a few seconds, and it’ll restore your backup.

Alternatively, there’s an even faster way to restore your Windows Registry manually. For this, go to the directory that contains the registry backup file and double-click the .reg file. In the User Account Control prompt, hit Yes. And finally, hit Yes in the confirmation prompt to confirm the import.

Method 2: Restore the Windows Registry via System Restore

When you backup your registry using System Restore, you essentially create a restore point at that instance on your computer. So to restore the backup, all you got to do is restore your PC to that restore point.

Follow these steps to restore a restore point:

  1. Launch System Restore. Bring up Run, lookup rstrui, and hit OK or press Enter.
  2. Hit Next on the System Restore wizard.
    restore Windows Registry
  3. Select a restore point on the following screen. If you don’t see one, tick the Show more restore points checkbox to reveal all the available restore points.
  4. Tap Next, and on the following screen click on Finish to begin restoring the selected restore point.
    restore Windows Registry

If you followed the instructions correctly, you should be able to fix the corrupt registry key, as well as your Windows Registry.

Do Registry Hacks Without Breaking Your System

A registry hack is a technique that gives you the ability to unlock system features and tweak the performance of your PC. But since there’s a risk attached to it, many Windows users are hesitant to tinker with the registry on their system.

If you’re thinking about tweaking the Windows Registry, this guide should help you play it safe by preparing you to backup your registry before you jump in and modify any of its values. That way, even if something messes up, you can restore the registry key to its default settings without impacting your desktop’s functionality. You still, however, have to be mindful of what you’re doing when tinkering with the registry.

FAQs About Backing Up and Restoring Windows Registry

Yes. Every time you (or the System Restore functionality) create a restore point on your computer, Windows also backs up the entire registry.

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