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Backing Up, Editing, and Restoring the Windows Registry in Windows 98, Me, 2000, and XP

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This document applies to computers using Microsoft Windows 98, Me, 2000, and XP.
Windows maintains almost all of the information about your computer and its programs in a file system called the registry. The files that make up the registry are hidden system files. Changing the registry files in the wrong way can cause Windows to stop working or make Windows report the wrong information. Always backup the registry before making changes. Also, you should have technical assistance when working with the registry, either in person or by a technical document.
CAUTION:An incorrect registry entry may cause serious system problems or prevent the computer from starting. Always backup your registry.
This document describes how to create a back up of the Windows registry, how to edit it, and how to restore it in case something goes wrong.

Before you begin

Before you begin working with the registry, you should print this document, if possible, as a reference.

Step 1: Backing up the Windows registry

Use the following steps to back up the entire Windows registry.
  1. Click Start and then Run .
  2. In the Open field type: regedit .
  3. In the Registry Editor, select My Computer .
  4. In Windows 98, Me, 2000, click Registry , and then Export Registry .
    In Windows XP, with My Computer highlighted, click File , and then Export .
  5. Browse to a storage location that is easy to remember.
  6. Under Export Range, select All .
  7. Type in a filename. HP suggests naming the file with the current date, for example: Registry Backup 05-01-03.
  8. Click the Save button to save the registry.

Step 2: Editing the registry

Use the Windows Registry Editor utility to make changes to the Windows registry. Editing the registry is very similar to working with files in Windows Explorer. You can browse to a location in the registry and add, rename, change data, or delete keys and values. The following steps walk through an example of how to add, modify, find, and delete registry items.

Adding a registry item

  1. Click Start , Run .
  2. In the Open field type: regedit .
  3. Click the plus sign (+) next to HKEY_CURRENT_USER.
  4. Right-click HKEY_CURRENT_USER , select New , and then click Key . A new key appears that looks like a folder.
  5. Type AAAA as a name for the new key and press Enter. You have just created a new registry key.
  6. Right-click the new key named AAAA , select New , and then click String Value .
  7. Type BBBB as a new value name and press Enter . You added a new value to a key.

Modifying a registry item

Use the steps in this section to modify the registry item you created in the previous section.
  1. Right-click the value BBBB and select Modify .
  2. Type CCCC for the data value and press Enter . You added data to a registry value. This same method can also be used to modify existing data.

Finding a registry item

Use the steps in this section to find the registry item you modified in the previous section.
  1. Click the minus (-) sign next to HKEY_CURRENT_USER to close branch of registry keys.
  2. Click My Computer in the registry window to highlight it.
  3. Click Edit , and then Find .
  4. Type CCCC into the Find What field.
  5. Make sure Keys, Values, and Data are selected, and click the Find Next button. The Registry Editor searches through the registry, stops, and highlights the value BBBB.
  6. Double-click BBBB to open it and see the value data CCCC inside. Click Cancel to exit the window. You have successfully searched the registry and found the value data CCCC.

Deleting a registry item

Use the steps in this section to delete the registry item you found in the previous section.
  1. Right-click the key named AAAA and select Delete .
  2. Click Yes to verify the deletion of the AAAA key, the BBBB value, and the CCCC value data. You have successfully deleted a key and its values from the registry.
    Figure 1: The Registry Editor

Step 3: Restoring a saved registry

If the system becomes unstable, hardware stops working, or software stops working after you edit the registry, use the following steps to restore the registry from a saved backup.
  1. Click Start , and then Run .
  2. In the Open field type: regedit .
  3. Press Enter . The Registry Editor appears.
  4. In Windows 98, Me, 2000, click Registry , and then Import Registry . In Windows XP, With My Computer highlighted, click File , and then Import .
  5. Browse to the registry file that was saved (just like the file that was saved in Step 1).
  6. Select the file and click OK .
  7. Restart the computer.
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