The registry is one way the OS keeps track of the installed applications, and it’s one of the most intricate components in Windows. When you make changes you don’t know too much about, there’s the chance of messing it up and causing problems. And like other stuff you don’t want to lose, registry entries can be backed up. What you do is backup parts of the registry, because the whole thing can’t be restored later from a single file. This is one of the more prominent Microsoft problems.
To backup the area of the registry that holds specific application settings, open the regedit window and navigate to HKCU\Software or HKLM\Software. There, find the key for the manufacturer that you’re trying to back up. Some applications don’t have registry entries to their name, but most do, and you’re likely to find what you’re looking for here.
The advantage of this is that if you reinstall your OS and restore the backup file, you won’t have to reconfigure all the settings you had previously. This is not an infallible process. But it works most of the time. Suppose, for example, that you wish to backup the context menu settings in Windows before making changes to them. For this, you’d be going to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\\. Here, right click on the key you wish to save, and hit Export. You can save the file under a name that’s easy to recognize later.
After this, you’re free to make any number of changes because if something goes wrong, you can right click on the backed up file and have your old settings restored instantly. This is a speedy way of getting out registry problems you might unknowingly cause. But the restoration can’t be preformed for the entire registry, and only works for sections of it. You hear frequent workaround requests for this and other Microsoft problems on support forums online.
Exporting from the root node in the editor lets you copy the full registry and save it in a .reg file. This file will no doubt be huge, so be careful how you view it. Don’t even think of opening it in Notepad. Running the file would install part of the settings to the registry, and for the rest you’d get an error message. The issue is that some of the important applications settings fall in the second group, and you couldn’t get them back from an overall backup.