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How do I back up the Windows Registry?

Whenever I try to import my backup copy of Windows Registry Editor, I get the message "Not all data was successfully written to the Registry. Some keys are open by the system or other processes." How do I fix this?

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If you're trying to use RegEdit to save and restore your Windows Registry, you're going to run into this problem. RegEdit is a simple tool designed only to edit individual Registry entries and not back up or restore the whole Registry. Otherwise, you'll be trying to overwrite Windows Registry entries which are in use, and you'll do more harm than good.

If you want to back up the Windows Registry, one easy way to do this is to use the NTBACKUP application. This tool is installed by default in Windows XP Pro, but can be installed from the VALUEADDMSFTNTBACKUP folder on the XP Home installation CD.

If you check the "System State" box when performing a backup, a copy of the Registry will be backed up along with the rest of your system. Backup copies of the Registry are also made whenever a System Restore point is created—either when you create one manually, or once every 24 hours the system's been up.

This was first published in August 2006

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