In Windows, some if not all advanced settings require you to edit or create some sort of registry key(s). Though editing registry is relatively easy, it is also easy to mess it up and make mistakes. So, before you make any changes to the registry, it is always a smart idea to backup Registry. The backup helps restore Registry if you don't like the changes you just made or when you make any mistake(s) while editing Registry. In fact, any respectable site or online Windows tutorial should warn you to backup registry before making any changes to it.
When I say backup your registry before editing, that instantly raises a question of how to backup registry?
Well, that is the reason I'm writing this. In this article, I will show you how to backup registry in two ways. First, how to backup a specific registry key or section and the second one is how to backup entire registry. Just use the below jump links to quickly jump to the relevant section according to your needs.
If you ask me, most of the time, it suffices to backup a specific key or section that you are trying to edit. A full backup is useful when you are making extensive changes in different sections at the same time.
- Backup specific section or key
- Backup whole registry
- Restore Windows registry using the backup
- Video tutorial
1. Backup Specific Key or Section of Registry
More often than not, you will be creating or editing an existing key or value in a specific section to modify some features of Windows. In those situations, you can just backup that specific registry key or entire section like root, user, machine, users, and config. When needed, restore the backup and you are good to go.
To back up a Registry key or section, open the Windows Registry by searching for "regedit" in the start menu.
In the registry editor, select the key you want to backup, right-click on it and select the option "Export."
If you want to backup entire section like root, user, machine, users, and config then right-click on that specific section and select "Export."
In the Export Registry File window, navigate to where you want to store the backup registry file, name the file, and click on the "Save" button. Before saving, make sure that the file type is set to "Registration Files (*.reg)" and "Export Range" to "Selected Branch."
That's it. You've successfully backed up Windows Registry. You can see the .reg file where you've saved it.
2. Backup Entire Registry
If you want to take backup of entire registry than you can do that too. In fact, the procedure is similar. Just select the "Computer" section, right-click on it and select "Export."
Just like before, you will see a browse window. Navigate to the folder where you would like to store the backup file, enter the name and click on the "Save" button. Again, make sure that the file type is set to "Registration Files (*.reg)" and "Export Range" to "Selected Branch."
That's it, after a few seconds, you will have a complete backup of Windows registry.
Do mind that, depending on your system, number of applications, and other stuff, the complete registry backup will be humongous. If you want to, you can look at the file size from the file properties window (right-click on file > properties). In my case, the file is around 366MB.
Now, let me show you how to quickly restore registry with just a couple of clicks.
3. Restore Registry Using .reg File
Restoring registry is easier than backing it up. To restore Windows registry, just double click on the .reg file. As soon as you double-click on the .reg file, you will be prompted whether you would like to add or modify the keys using the backup file. Since we want to restore the registry, click on the "Yes" button to continue.
That's it. The backup will be restored instantly and you will receive a prompt letting you know the same.
4. In Case of Error While Restoring .reg File
Sometimes, the backup may not be completely restored and you will also receive an error message something like this.
Don't freak out. This may be because you don't have administrator rights. You can easily resolve this error. Search for command prompt in the start menu, right-click on it and select the option "Run as administrator."
In the command prompt, navigate to the folder where you've stored the backup files using the
cd command. Now, simply enter the file name along with the .reg extension and press enter.
You will see a confirmation prompt like the above one (with yellow caution icon). Click on the "Yes" button to save changes.
That should fix the error and your registry will be restored as it should.
5. Video Tutorial
As you can see, creating a quick Registry backup is nothing hard, it is simple and takes just a few seconds. So, don't ever ignore to create a backup before editing registry. It is better to be safe than sorry. If you want more protection from any unwanted changes or editing errors, I recommend you to create a system restore point. It is a much safer, easier and reliable way to go back to a previously known good state.
Image credit: Michael's Registry icon