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Backup and Restoring Windows Registry for 2000, 2003, and XP - Part I

Well, just to let you all know you did not miss any newsletters in December. I took off for the holidays so no newsletter was released for the month.  Okay, so let's pick up where our last newsletter left off. For those of you who missed it, we discussed how to get back into Windows when you crash as well as planning ahead for a crash. You can review the last newsletter here.

Before I explain how to backup and restore the Windows NT platform Registry(Windows NT, 2000, 2003,XP). Vista is also part of the NT platform, but the Registry files are different, we'll discuss Vista in a future newletter. I want to explain why backing up or restoring the Registry from inside Windows NT, 2000, 2003 or XP cannot be done. Windows does not allow you to copy the Registry files. Even if you are armed with software that claims to backup and restore the Registry, the software cannot read all the protected Keys; merely makes a few notes for restoration. How can anyone think a 1 meg file will restore an 18 meg Registry. However, Winsafe XP can backup the XP Registry because it backs up the latest copy of the Registry out of System Restore. Exporting the Registry will not export all the Keys, a good example is the Security Key which is not exported at all. Therefore any backup made by a program is not a complete backup. Also, if the database of the Registry becomes corrupt you will be unable to restore inside of Windows. This newsletter will explain to you the best way to protect your Registry. Our next newsletter will discuss the completion of the restoration process.

Now the next thing we must do to build our insurance policy is to backup the Registry on a regular basis. I know everyone says it cannot be done, but it can be and you'll be able to do it. Windows 9x and ME were already covered in our second newsletter so let's just discuss the Windows NT Platform (Windows NT, 2000 and XP). If you have your Windows Drive formatted to FAT or FAT32 this is going to be easy; all you need to do is create the files mentioned below as well as a startup diskette from Windows 9x or ME.

If you have NTFS you do not need to create the bat files or the startup diskette, instead, you will need to manually type the lines at the C:\Windows prompt and install the Recovery Console which I'll further explain later on in this newsletter.

If you have FAT or FAT32 you will need to create two bat files, one to backup and the second to restore. You will also need to create a bootup (startup) diskette. I discussed the bootup diskette in my first newsletter . Create two text files using Notepad, "Backup.bat" and "Restore.bat" and save them in the Windows folder or the Root Drive. I am going to assume the Windows folder is on the C drive and named "Windows", if not, you will need to make the necessary changes in the files you are going to create. Create a new folder C:\Windows\Repair if it does not exist already.

Backup.bat : (Note: each new line is numbered, as the text maybe to long for one line on this page, DO NOT include the line numbers). You will need to adjust the following text to match your Windows folder and drive letter.  

1) Copy C:\Windows\System32\Config\Software C:\Windows\Repair\Software  
2) Copy C:\Windows\System32\Config\Security C:\Windows\Repair\Security  
3) Copy C:\Windows\System32\Config\System C:\Windows\Repair\System  
4) Copy C:\Windows\System32\Config\Default C:\Windows\Repair\Default  
5) Copy C:\Windows\System32\Config\Sam C:\Windows\Repair\Sam  
6) Copy C:\Windows\System32\Config\Userdiff C:\Windows\Repair\Userdiff  

Restore.bat file:  
1) Copy C:\Windows\Repair\Software C:\Windows\System32\Config\Software  
2) Copy C:\Windows\Repair\Security C:\Windows\System32\Config\Security  
3) Copy C:\Windows\Repair\System C:\Windows\System32\Config\System  
4) Copy C:\Windows\Repair\Default C:\Windows\System32\Config\Default  
5) Copy C:\Windows\Repair\Sam C:\Windows\ System32\ Config\ Sam  
6) Copy C:\Windows\Repair\Userdiff C:\Windows\System32\Config\Userdiff  

Now place both of these files in the Windows folder.  

If your Windows Drive is NTFS you will need to install the Recovery Console. To do this, either insert your Windows CD or locate your I386 folder on your hard drive. At the Start button select run and enter the following, adjusting the path as needed:

E:\I386\Winnt32.exe /cmdcon (press OK).  

Now you are ready to backup your Registry. If you have the Windows Drive in FAT or FAT32, you can insert your Windows 9x startup disk and reboot. When you reach the A: prompt you will need to type :
C: (press enter)
CD Windows (press enter)
backup.bat (press enter)  

NTFS users will need to reboot and select the Recovery Console option. Then enter your password and type each line of the bat file as outlined in this newsletter (without the numbers and the parentheses mark) Press enter after each line.

When it is time to restore the Registry you will need to follow the same routine as you did for the backup procedure except replace the line Backup.bat with Restore.bat . 

I realize that most of you will not be backing up and restoring the Registry too often, so I will explain to you how to take a week or more old copy of the Registry and bring it up to date in my next newsletter.

Read Part II Newsletter

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