How to REALLY backup the Windows Registry
By Stephen Bucaro
In Windows 3.x configuration information was stored in human readable text files
like win.ini, system.ini, config.sys, and autoexec.bat. But that method of storing
configuration was inadequate to store configuration for the enormous amount of bloat
Microsoft put into Windows 95 and higher.
In Windows 95 and higher, configuration information is stored in the "registry". The
word "registry" rarely appears without being accompanied by the word "warning",
and a vague description of how your computer will go up in smoke if you even think
about messing with the registry.
The registry is bloated and overcomplicated, but since it is the central repository
for almost all of Windows configuration information, you will probably have to deal
with it sooner or later. In fact, if you ever require the assistance of a support
technician, the first thing they will instruct you to do is open registry editor.
It is perfectly safe for you to work with the registry, provided that you back it up
first (and you know how to restore it). Windows automatically creates a backup of
the registry every time you start your computer. But when you are making
configuration changes, you usually have to reboot your computer several times,
possibly writing bad data to the backup.
To make your own backup of the registry, start your system with your startup floppy
disk. (If you can’t find your startup disk, use the Add/Remove utility in Control
Panel to make a new one. Place a copy of the file attrib.exe from the
c:\windows\command folder on the disk.)
After you start your system with your startup disk, use DOS to change to the
C:\WINDOWS directory (type c: then cd windows). Then carefully type in the following
attrib -s -h -r system.dat
attrib -s -h -r user.dat
copy system.dat c:\
copy user.dat c:\
attrib +s +h +r system.dat
attrib +s +h +r user.dat
Note: if your system is Windows Me, also back up classes.dat
Then remove the startup disk and restart your system.
Why did I put you through such a laborious method just to make a copy of two files?
Could you just use Window’s Explorer to copy the files? Could you use the Registry
Editor (Regedit) to back up the registry (or Windows Me System Restore)?