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Windows Backup Guide

Registry Backup

Microsoft Windows stores its configuration information in a database called the registry. The registry is the central storage for all computer configuration data. The Windows system configuration, the computer hardware configuration, information about installed programs, the types of documents that each program can create, and user preferences are all stored in the registry. Windows continually references this information during its operation. The registry stores the data in a structured hierarchy of keys, subkeys, and named values. Incorrectly editing the registry may severely damage your system. Microsoft recommends that you backup the registry before you edit it.

Although the registry appears to be in one file, it is actually placed on your computer in several files. Depending on your system configuration, registry files can be found in any of the following locations:

    C:\Users\User Name\ on Windows Vista, 7.
    C:\Documents and Settings\User Name\ on Windows 2000, XP.
    C:\Windows\System32\Config\ on Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7.
    C:\Windows\ on Windows 95, 98, ME.
    C:\Windows\Profiles\ on Windows 95, 98, ME.

Registry data is usually stored in the following files, typically referred to as 'registry hives':

  • System.dat, User.dat, and Policy.pol, on Windows 95, 98 and ME.
  • Security, System.alt, Default, Sam, Software, System, Ntuser.dat, and other files, on Windows NT, 2000, XP, Vista, and 7.

How to back up Windows registry?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to back up registry files under Windows NT, 2000, XP, Vista, and 7, while the operating system is running. Registry files remain fully locked all the time while Windows is running, so there is no access to those files. You can however use an integrated Windows' System Restore feature for registry backup.

Alternatively, the registry editor (regedit.exe) allows you to export partial or complete copies of the registry, while the Windows is up, and the exported files can then be backed up with Argentum™ Backup or any other traditional file backup utility. If there is a registry problem, the exported file can be easily imported to restore all or part of the registry. And the exported file is a text file that's easily read and manipulated. You can follow these simple steps to back up the whole registry or any particular registry subkey:

  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. In the Open box, type regedit, and then click OK.
  3. Locate and then click the root subkey that contains all the child subkeys and values that you want to back up.
  4. On the File menu, click Export.
  5. In the Save in box, select a location where you want to save the Registration Entries (.reg) file, type a file name in the File name box, and then click Save.

The exported registry file is about 50-100 MB in size on a typical Windows XP/Vista/7 installation. The registry exported files are text files and are usually well-compressed (by up to 75% and more). You can use Argentum™ Backup to automatically compress and save them in Zip archives. To restore registry subkeys that you exported, double-click the Registration Entries (.reg) file that you saved.

As opposed to Windows XP, Vista, and 7, registry backup is very easy when running Windows 95, 98, and ME, and it can be fully automatic. You can back up registry files either manually, by hand, or fully automatically, with the help of Argentum™ Backup . It will find the correct locations and back up all of your registry data automatically, quickly and safely.

Windows Backup Guide

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