-=PCTechTalk=- Back up the registry before wiping/reinstalling Windows

  • From: Gman <gman.pctt@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "PCTechTalk Group <FreeLists>" <PCTechTalk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2009 17:57:43 -0500

If you're at the point where a wipe/reinstall of Windows is the only way to 
fix the problems you've been having, it makes sense to first make a backup 
of your registry.  It's impossible to do this once you wipe the drive or 
otherwise remove your ability to boot into Windows, so this short tutorial 
is only for systems that will still boot up.

A backup of the registry is easy to perform and it will give you a record 
(that we can later tap into if necessary) of all of your program settings, 
including the serial keys and any other info needed to install them.  I only 
do this to protect my customers in case they have serious difficulty 
locating their program serials &/or other items later.  Even if you know for 
a fact that you have ALL of the serials from every piece of software that 
you've ever bought and still use, there are other reasons why you would 
still want to back up the registry in .REG format.  For instance, it also 
contains all of your email filter rules and account settings and those can 
be pulled out if necessary.  There are other things in there that are nice 
to have backed up, too, just in case they're ever needed.  With that in 
mind, here's all you need to do to back up your registry.

Go to Start > Run, type in regedit and press Enter.  When the registry 
editor opens, it should automatically have the top item named 'Computer' or 
'My Computer' selected in the left pane.  If not, you'll want to click 
directly on it to ensure that you get the entire registry in your backup. 
Once it's selected, go to File > Export and another window will open.  At 
the bottom of this window, make sure that the Export Range is set to ALL. 
Type in a name for this backup in the 'File name' area (I use the current 
date, i.e. "2009-02-28 backup" as the full name) and tell the window where 
you'd like to save this backup.  The easiest way to direct it to an external 
drive or separate partition is to use the drop down arrow in the "Save In" 
section at the top of the window.  It will show you all of your hard drive 
partitions and you can select the correct one and proceed from there.  If 
this is part of a much larger backup plan in prep for a wipe/reinstall of 
Windows, I suggest you create a new folder to hold ALL of the backup files 
and then save this registry backup inside it.  Again, I would include the 
date of the backup in the name of this master backup folder (i.e. 
"2009-02-28 WinXP backup").

    The result of all of this will be the creation of a single .REG file 
that's likely to be 20-40MB in size.  You may never find a need to use it, 
but it's really good to have it just in case you ever need something from 


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  • » -=PCTechTalk=- Back up the registry before wiping/reinstalling Windows - Gman