Hack 71 Better Registry Backups
Avert disaster by backing up the Registry so
that you'll always be able to revert to a clean
Registry is unforgiving; once you make a change to it, that change is
permanent. There is no undo function. To get the Registry back to the
way you want it, you'll have to reedit it and
remember the often arcane and complicated changes that you
made—if you can. And, unlike most other Windows applications,
the Registry Editor doesn't ask you whether you want
to save your changes. Make the change, and it's
done. To paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald, there are no second acts
when you edit the Registry.
Because of this, you should take precautions to keep your Registry
safe and ensure that you can restore it to its previous safe settings
whenever you want to. The best way to do that is to back up your
Registry before you edit it. You should make copies of your Registry
not only to protect against accidentally doing damage while
you're editing it, but also to ensure that you can
restore your system in the event of a system crash.
Here are the best ways to back up your Registry:
- System Restore
One of the simplest ways to back up
and restore the Registry is by using System Restore. System Restore
creates a snapshot of your entire system, including the Registry, and
lets you revert your system to that snapshot. To use System Restore,
before editing the Registry choose Start Control Panel
Performance and Maintenance System Restore and
then follow the wizard to create a restore point. If after you edit
the Registry you want to restore it to its preedited state, use the
same wizard to do so.
- Backup utility
You can also use Windows Backup
utility to back up and restore the Registry.
By default, the Backup program is installed in XP Professional, but
not XP Home Edition. If you have the Home Edition, you must install
Backup manually. For more on backup strategies, see [Hack #75].
Run the Backup utility by choosing Start All Programs
Accessories System Tools Backup. If
you use the Backup Wizard, when you get to the "What
to Back Up" screen, choose "Only
back up the System State data." Then, follow the
Wizard's directions. It will back up the Registry as
well as other system files, including boot files used to boot XP.
If you don't use the Backup Wizard, click on the
Backup tab in the Backup utility, check the box next to System State,
and then click on Start Backup. When you want to restore your system,
run the Backup utility. Click Restore and Manage Media
- Registry Editor
You can also use the Registry Editor
to back up the Registry. This is probably the easiest way to back up
the Registry, but it won't back up two Registry
keys: the SAM and Security keys
that control password policies, user rights, and related information.
Unless you have a complex system with many users, though, these keys
are not absolutely vital.
Run the Registry Editor by typing Regedit in the
Run box or a command prompt and pressing Enter. Highlight My
Computer. If you highlight an individual Registry hive instead, only
that hive will be backed up. Next, choose File Export. The
Export Registry File dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 7-8. Give the file a name, choose a location, and
save it. For safety's sake, also make backups to
another machine and to a CD.
To restore the Registry, run the Registry Editor, choose File
Import, and then import the file.
Figure 7-8. Using the Export Registry File screen to back up the Registry