The Registry is where all of the magic happens in Windows. It is the database and hierarchical structure that stores all of Windows settings, configurations, and Windows can’t operate without it. Keeping the registry healthy and clean is pretty much a no-brainer, but it’s easy to mess up and sometimes changes don’t always apply like we thought they would. That is why it’s always a good idea to create a backup before making significant changes or installing a very complex application. Let’s take a look at how you can do that.
How To Backup The Registry In Windows 7 and Vista
1. Click the Windows Start Menu Orb and then Type regedit into the search box. Once the program link appears, Press Enter.
Note: Screenshots taken from Windows 7 but Vista is very similar
To get there in Windows 10, click start and type: regedit and hit Enter or select regedit from the tops of the search results. In Windows 10 you don’t need a search box, just start typing — it’s a time saver.
2. In Registry Editor Click File > Export…
3. In the export window, Type in a file name for your backup, I’d suggest including today’s date in the file name for easy reference. At the bottom of the export window you have two options under Export Range.
- All: this will backup the ENTIRE registry
- Selected Branch: this will only backup the registry key you had selected and all sub-keys within it.
Once you’re ready, Click Save.
4. After you Click Save it can take a few minutes for the registry to back up. You may even see a “Not Responding” error in the window, but don’t worry, just be patient and it will finish then be back to normal.
That covers backing up the registry, but what’s the next step if you need to actually use one of your backups? Let’s take a look.
How To Restore A Registry Backup
Option 1. The first, easiest and fastest way to restore registry information is to Merge it. Simply navigate to the file in Windows and then Right-Click the registry file and Select Merge.*
*You can also just Double-Click the registry file to merge it.
You’ll see a confirmation window, Click Yes.
Done! Just give it a moment and the registry will apply the changes based on the keys stored in the registry file you just merged.
Option 2. The other way to restore registry information is to use the Import tool. Just open up regedit from the Start Menu like above (see Step #1) and then Click File > Import.
The import dialog will appear, here you can Select the registry file you want to restore and then Click Open.
Done! Now you know how to backup and restore the Windows 7 and Vista registry. This trick will come in handy before you make any major registry changes or install “pre-made” fixes from the internet.