Backup Windows registry

Your Windows registry holds all the most important information about your computer. The registry knows what kind of hardware you have, what software is installed, and how you have Windows setup.

Backing it up when your computer is running well can be very useful if you run into problems further down the road. If you can't figure out why your computer is crashing, you can try restoring your registry later.

How to backup the Windows registry:

1. The registry really exists as two files:


I also like to include these two files in my backups as they control how windows starts and hold additional information:


The first two files are actually "hidden" and "restricted", so by default you cannot see them. In a Windows Explorer window, go to View-Folder Options-View and look for an option that says "Show all Files" and select it. You will then be allowed to see these hidden files. Go to "My Computer" "C:" "Windows" to see the files and scroll down until you find them..

2. The simplest way (but not the best way - see below) to backup these files is to *copy* (make sure you don't actually move them) by right clicking on the files and choosing copy. Then go to "My Computer" "C:" and make a new folder by right clicking and selecting "New" "Folder". Name it "Backup". Double click on it then right click and choose paste.

3. That's it, your registry is backed up!

4. For the safer way to do this: boot your computer with a boot disk or by pressing F8 just before your computer says "Starting Windows..." Choose "Command Prompt Only" as your boot option. Now type in the following commands in sequence to backup your registry:

cd c:\   (takes you to the root of c:)
mkdir backup   (makes a backup directory)
cd c:\windows   (changes directory to Windows)
attrib user.dat -h -r   (makes file not hidden/restricted)
attrib system.dat -h -r   (same)
copy user.dat c:\backup   (copy file to backup folder)
copy system.dat c:\backup   (same)
copy win.ini c:\backup   (same)
copy system.ini c:\backup   (same)
attrib user.dat +h +r   (gives attributes back to file)
attrib system.dat +h +r   (same)

Now you have properly backed up your windows registry. There are other ways of doing this, but this way is the most effective.

Tip: You can copy and paste the commands above into a file in Notepad with slight modifications (no "cd" commands. Instead just use full paths for each command i.e. copy c:\windows\user.dat c:\backup). Then save the file somewhere as MS-DOS Batch File "backup.bat". Then you can just run this batch file anytime to backup your registry.