How do I backup and restore the Windows registry?

Updated: 10/30/2017 by Computer Hope

Windows 10 and 8 users

Backing up the Windows 10 and 8 registry

Microsoft Windows 8 and 10 include the System Restore feature, allowing users to backup their Windows operating system and create restore points to restore the system files back to an earlier date. By default, System Restore automatically creates a backup of the operating system files when a change is made (i.e. installation of software or a Windows update). However, you can manually create a restore point at any time by following the steps below.

  1. For Windows 8, type restore while on the Start Screen. For Windows 10, click the Start button and type restore.
  2. In the search results, click the Create a restore point option.
  3. In the System Properties window that opens, click the Create button.
  4. Enter a brief description of the restore point you are creating and click Create.

Restoring the Windows 10 and 8 registry

To restore the system back to an earlier point, follow the steps below.

  1. For Windows 8, type restore while on the Start Screen. For Windows 10, click the Start button and type restore.
  2. In the search results, click the Create a restore point option.
  3. In the System Properties window that opens, click the System Restore... button.
  4. Select either the Recommended restore option or the Choose a different restore point option and click Next.
  5. Follow the remaining steps to activate the selected restore point.

Windows 7, Vista, and XP users

Backing up the Windows 7, Vista, and XP registry

Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, and 7 include a new feature called System Restore. This great feature enables a user to backup and restore their important system files from an earlier day. By default, this feature automatically creates a backup of the system each day. If you want to create a restore point for your Windows operating system, follow the steps below.

  1. Click Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Restore
  2. Select the option to Create a restore point.
  3. Click Next and follow the remaining steps.

Restoring the Windows 7, Vista, and XP registry

To restore the system back to an earlier point, follow the steps below.

  1. Click Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Restore
  2. Select the Restore my computer to an earlier time option (as shown in the picture below) and click Next.
  3. Select the day and the restore point you want to restore and click Next.

Windows System Restore

Windows 2000 users

Backing up the Windows 2000 registry

The Microsoft Windows 2000 registry can be backed up from the backup utility by following the steps below.

  1. Click Start, Programs, Accessories, and click backup.
  2. Within backup, click the backup tab.
  3. On the Backup tab, check the System State option to create a backup of boot files, COM+ Class registry Database, and the System registry.

Restoring the Windows 2000 registry

If you have created backups using the Microsoft backup utility, you can also restore the registry through this utility.

Windows ME users

Backing up the Windows ME registry

Like its predecessor, Microsoft Windows ME also includes the Scanreg utility found with Windows 98. This utility automatically makes backups of the registry each time the computer boots.

Restoring the Windows ME registry

To restore an earlier version of the registry, a user can click Start, Run, and type scanreg /restore to restore the registry. If you are unable to get into Windows, this can also be done through Windows Safe Mode.

Windows 98 users

Backing up the Windows 98 registry

Windows 98 introduced a new utility known as Scanreg, which automatically makes backups of your registry each time you boot up your computer.

Tip: The steps listed below for backing up Windows 95 registry also work, but are not necessarily needed unless you want to keep an original elsewhere.

Restoring Windows 98 registry

To restore Windows 98 registry, open an MS-DOS prompt.

At the MS-DOS prompt, type:

cd\windows\command

Once in the command directory, type:

scanreg /restore

After entering the above command the computer will restore an earlier version of your registry. Once completed, reboot the computer and this should resolve any issues that may have occurred with your registry.

If you backed up your registry using the Windows 95 steps use the Windows 95 restore steps to restore the registry.

Windows 95 users

Backing up the Windows 95 registry

The Windows 95 registry is stored in two files the user.dat and system.dat. To backup the Windows 95 registry, manually restart the computer in MS-DOS prompt and follow the steps below.

Type cd\windows

At the C:\Windows> prompt, type the following:

attrib user.dat -r -a -s -h <press enter>
attrib system.dat -r -a -s -h <press enter>
md backup <press enter>
copy user.dat backup <press enter>
copy system.dat backup <press enter>

The above will copy the registry files into a backup directory in your Windows directory. This directory can be substituted for any directory or any other drive. Note: In many cases, the registry cannot be copied onto a single floppy because it exceeds the size of a standard floppy.

Restoring the Windows 95 registry

If you have made a backup of the user.dat and system.dat files in the past and you have verified they still exist, follow the steps below to restore your Windows 95 registry.

First, get the computer to an MS-DOS prompt.

Once at the MS-DOS prompt, type cd\windows

Once in the Windows directory, type the following:

attrib user.dat -r -a -s -h <press enter>
attrib system.dat -r -a -s -h <press enter>
del user.dat <press enter>
del system.dat <press enter>

Once these files have been deleted, type cd\windows\backup once in the Windows\backup directory type the below. If you have changed the location of where your registry is backed up you need to change to the directory that contains the backup.

copy user.dat c:\windows <press enter>
copy system.dat c:\windows <press enter>

The above should copy two files; once copied, reboot the computer and you should now be able to get back into Windows.

Additional information