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Susan B
05-09-2002, 10:51 PM
With contributions from Parry, Jen C, Maxt and Billy T


The Registry

The Registry is a database within Windows where all the computer's system settings are stored. Editing the registry should be done very carefully because if you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you can cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system.

It may be helpful to print out this FAQ to refer to in case you have registry problems and cannot start your computer.


1. To backup your registry:

It is good practice to backup your registry before making any changes in case something goes wrong and you have a chance of restoring it to its previous working state. By default, five previous copies or the registry are stored: RB001.cab through RB005.cab. The backup you create will overwrite the oldest of the 5 backups maintained on your system.

Win 95:

See this (http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q132332) article at the Microsoft Knowledge Base.

Win 98 & Win ME:

1. Click Start, click Run, type scanregw, and then click OK.
2. When you receive a prompt to back up the registry, click Yes.
3. When you receive the "Backup complete" message, click OK.

Win 2000:

See this (http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q322755) article at the Microsoft Knowledge Base.

Win XP:

See this (http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q322756) article at the Microsoft Knowledge Base.

You are also able to backup and store your registry onto your hard drive through regedit. Go to Start>Run>type regedit. This will open up the registry editor. Click on registry then export registry file. Make sure that when saving the file you select ALL from the export range options.


2. To manually restore your registry:

Under normal circumstances, Windows is capable of detecting and recovering from registry errors automatically. If Windows is incapable of this, a previous copy of the registry can be restored manually. Windows makes and stores a backup of the registry when you start your computer successfully each day. By default, five previous copies or the registry are stored: RB001.cab through RB005.cab. To restore one of these previous copies:

Win 95:

See this (http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q132332) article at the Microsoft Knowledge Base.

Win 98 & Win ME:

1. Start your computer, press and hold CTRL, and then choose Safe Mode Command Prompt Only from the Windows 98 Startup menu. If you are running Windows Me, start your computer with the startup disk (see end of page for instructions).

2. At the MS-DOS prompt, type cd\windows\command, and then press ENTER.

Alternatively for Win 95 or 98 if your computer is already running, go to Start, Shutdown and choose "Restart in MS-DOS mode". Now type in cd\command.

3. At the C: prompt, type scanreg /restore, and then press ENTER.

4. Select the previous known working registry that you want to restore, and then press ENTER. NOTE: A properly working registry has the word "Started" next to the date.

5. When you receive notification that you restored a properly working registry, press ENTER to restart your computer.

More information is available here (http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q221512).

Win 2000:

See this (http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q322755) article at the Microsoft Knowledge Base.

Win XP:

See this (http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q322756) article at the Microsoft Knowledge Base.


3. Registry corruption and boot failure of Windows submitted by Billy T

In the situation where Windows won't boot at all due to registry corruption the following procedure will get your computer running again.

Note: This procedure requires a boot to DOS, either from a normal startup using F8 or via a boot disk. To the best of my knowledge it does not function from a command prompt within Windows, which you wouldn't be able to access anyway if Windows wouldn't boot.

1. Either boot to the DOS command prompt or click Start>Shutdown>Restart in MS-DOS mode. (If you have to do a hard reboot, hold down F8 and you will get to the boot menu - choose MS-DOS)

2. You will end up at the DOS prompt and should be at C:\Windows. Type: \sysbckup and press enter. If you used a boot disk you will be at the A:\ prompt so type C:\ and press enter to get to the C: prompt.

If you are at the root [C:\] type cd\windows\sysbckup and press enter.

3. Next type scanreg /restore and press enter (there is a space between scanreg and the forward slash)

4. You will find yourself at a menu of five registry backups named rbxxx.cab.

Choose one with a date prior to your brain-fade or other registry-scrambling experience and click restore.

That's all there is to it. You will be back in business in no time at all, ready for another adventure.

To ensure that Windows makes a registry backup the first time you boot each day (and you should boot at the start of every day to make sure this happens, otherwise your registry backups can be weeks old) go to Start>Run, type msconfig, go to the startup menu and check that "scanregistry" is ticked.


4. Editing your registry:

You can edit the registry by using Registry Editor (Regedit.exe or Regedt32.exe). If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you can cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

Win 95, Win 98, Win ME & Win XP:

Click Start, click Run, type regedit, and then click OK.

Win 2000:

Click Start, click Run, type regedt32, and then click OK.

See the appropriate links above and below for information on editing registry keys.


5. Further Links and Information

Description of the Microsoft Windows Registry (http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q256986)

Description of the Windows Registry Checker Tool (Scanreg.exe) (http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q183887)

How to Restore the Windows 95/98/ME Registry (http://www.xtra.co.nz/help/0,,6156-1262916,00.html)

How to Modify the Windows Registry (http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q136393)

Command-Line Switches for the Registry Checker Tool (http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;q184023)

Windows Registry Guide (http://www.winguides.com/registry/)

Windows Registry Tips guide (http://www.activewin.com/tips/reg/index.shtml): excellent tweaks for advanced users


6. Registry Cleaners

Installing and uninstalling programs, applications, drivers, hardware changes from settings or failure can all contribute to registry corruption, causing problems during use.

It can be helpful to run your Windows registry self-repair regularly to keep it ticking over nicely. For those who don't regularly run, for example, Norton System Works it is especially worthwhile running the Windows Registry self repair. To do this:

1. Turn off printer and other running peripherals.
2. Click: Start>Shut Down>Restart in MS-DOS Mode>OK.
3. At the curser type: scanreg /fix (Note the space before the /).
4. Leave the blue screen to play by itself and when it's finished type win at the cursor to return to the Windows environment - with a repaired registry!

Credit: the above was contributed by "Maxt".


Registry cleaners function by pruning out the dead wood in the registry, helping it run smoother. Some of these cleaners have "Auto Clean" functions which should be used carefully because often times they will clean too deep taking out parts of the registry that will be needed by another program.

Backing up the registry is critical prior to making any changes to it no matter what the registry cleaning program tells you is safe to remove. Backing up the registry before making changes should always be first thing you do.

Recommended registry cleaners include the following:

RegCleaner or jv16 Powertools (http://www.jv16.org)

EasyCleaner (http://www.toniarts.com/)

RegClean (http://www.createwindow.com/wininfo/regclean.htm)


7. Making a Start-Up disk

Windows ME users need to use a start-up disk to boot into MS-DOS. If you do not have one, create a startup disk by following the instructions in Windows Help: go to Start>Help, click on the Index tab and type in startup, disk, creating and click on Display. Follow the instructions given.

For further advice have a look at these sites:

Bootable Startup Disks (http://pages.prodigy.net/jdjd/backup/bsd.htm)

How to make Windows ME boot and startup floppy disks (http://www.duxcw.com/digest/Howto/software/windows/winme/startup/page2.html)

Making Boot Disks (http://www.menary.co.uk/pchelp/bootdisk.htm)

Ultimate Boot Disk (http://www.startdisk.com/Web1/ubd/ubd.htm) - tweak'e's favourite bootdisk