Windows registry is a database which stores crucial information regarding everything on a computer. It stores information regarding the devices connected, the drivers, the software, the dll files, the custom settings, some passwords, and everything you can think off. Windows would not function properly if something goes wrong in the registry. The registry is not one single file but is made up of several files and they work in accordance with each other. Some files store software related information and some store system specific information. Individual files are present for every user account and this load whenever a particular user logs in. This is how window displays custom settings and themes for different users. The entire information present in the registry can be edited, exported and imported. The registry can backed up for safety reasons and can be restored in case of failure. Windows itself creates a registry backup whenever it is installed and this backup contains the registry settings which were there when you installed windows. If we restore this registry backup your system settings will revert to the first day and your system will be as good as new.
We ourselves can take regular registry backups and keep them safe. These backups can be restored by just double clicking the backup file and allowing it to merge in the current registry. Let us see how we can take a backup of the Windows Registry in Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1.
Windows has one registry editing tool called as Regedit and this is the same in all the editions and versions of Windows operating system. This tool is located in the system32 folder in Windows and so the executable file for this tool can be run from the command prompt or from the Run box. To open the Registry editor click on the Start button in Windows Server 2003 service pack 1 and then click on Run. When the Run box opens, type REGEDIT and press Enter. This will open the Registry editor and it will open in the state in which you closed it the last time. Registry Editor has two panes; left and right. The left pane shows all the registry folders and keys in a tree view and the Right pane show the Values contained in each selected key. To take a back up of the Registry click on the File menu in Registry Editor and select Export. When you get the “Export Registry File” box, type a name for the backup. It is preferred if you type current date in the file name for easily identifying the correct backup at the time of restore. After giving any name to the backup file and selecting the backup location click on the radio button named “All” at the bottom of this box. This will take the backup of entire registry and not just the currently selected key. Once done click on Save. This will take a few seconds because the entire registry will be saved in a text format and the extension of the file will be .reg. these .reg files can be edited in Notepad but this should only be done if you are very familiar with the registry. Double clicking on the .Reg file merges the registry backup in the current registry. Keys changes in the current user gets applied instantly but for any other change you need to restart the computer.