You must create a good registry backup before making changes to the Windows Registry. Here’s how to back up the registry in Windows 10 and 11.
In Windows, some if not all advanced settings require you to edit or create some registry key(s). Though editing the registry is relatively easy, it is also easy to mess it up and make mistakes. Before making changes to the registry, it is always a smart idea to back up the Registry. The backup helps you restore the Registry if you don’t like the changes or make mistakes while editing Registry. In fact, any respectable site or online Windows tutorial should warn you to back up the registry before making any changes to it.
When I say backup your registry before editing, that instantly raises the question of how to back up the registry?
Well, that is the reason I’m writing this. In this article, I will show you how to backup the registry in two ways. First, how to backup a specific registry key or folder, and the second one is how to back up the entire registry. Use the below jump links to jump to the relevant section according to your need quickly.
Most of the time, if you ask me, it is good enough to back up a specific key or folder that you are trying to edit. A full backup is useful when you are making extensive changes in different sections at the same time.
1. Backup Specific Key or Folder of Registry
Often, you will be creating or editing an existing key or value in a specific section to modify some Windows feature. You can back up that specific registry key or entire section in those situations 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 folder (key) you want to backup, right-click on it and select the option “Export.”
If you want to backup the 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 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 a backup of the entire registry, then 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.”
Note: The registry window may look frozen while saving and/or shows “Not responding” in the title bar. You can safely ignore it. It takes a few seconds to complete the exporting and saving task.
That’s it. After a few seconds, you will have a complete backup of the Windows registry.
Keep in mind that the complete registry backup will be humongous depending on your system, number of applications, and other stuff. 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 restore the registry with just a couple of clicks quickly.
3. Restore Registry Using .reg File
Restoring the registry is easier than backing it up. To restore the Windows registry, double-click on the .reg file. As soon as you double-click on the .reg file, you will be prompted to 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 is 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 restored completely, and you will also receive an error message something like this. The full error message is “Cannot import reg: Not all data was successfully written to the registry. Some keys are open by the system or other process, or you have insufficient privileges to perform this operation.”
Don’t freak out. This may be because you don’t have administrator rights. You can easily resolve this error. Search for the 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, enter the file name along with the .reg extension and press enter.
A quick tip: Type the first few letters of the file name and press the Tab key to auto-complete the file name.
You will see a confirmation prompt like the above one (with a 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 creating a backup before editing the Registry. It is better to be safe than sorry. If you want more protection from unwanted changes or editing errors, I recommend creating a system restore point. It is a much safer, easier, and reliable way to return to a previously known good state.
Image credit: Michael’s Registry icon