Learn how to reset the Windows registry to default , as well as other options to recover and prevent errors.
The Windows registry contains a large amount of data, containing information about how the operating system behaves. Most of the changes you make to the system affect the registry, so you periodically adjust, add, and remove values.
If you accidentally screwed up the registry due to manual errors or other errors, you might want to know how to reset the registry to the default values. Let’s look at various ways to reset the registry in Windows and how to prevent these problems in the future.
The Only Way to Fully Reset the Registry
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to simply reset the registry. Because the registry contains a large amount of data about your specific Windows settings, you cannot reset the registry to a clean state without rendering the system inoperable.
Related: How to Run Multiple Instances of Regedit in Windows 10
Therefore, the only correct way to reset the Windows registry to its default values is to reset the Windows PC. The Windows reset process will reinstall the operating system, which will naturally reset the registry.
To reset your Windows PC, open Settings from the Start menu or with Win + I, then go to Update & Security > Recovery and click Get Started under Reset this PC.
This will give you the option to reinstall Windows only while keeping the files, or destroy everything and start from scratch. You can also choose to use system recovery data to reinstall Windows or download a new copy from the Internet.
No matter which combination of these options you choose, you will completely reinstall Windows, which will reset the registry. Obviously inconvenient, but if you want to reset the entire registry to its default settings, this is the only way.
However, there are other ways to return to the registry or backup in time to prevent problems in the future. Let us think about it.
Reset Recent Registry Changes Using System Restore
System Restore is a built-in recovery function of Windows. Every time you make a change (such as installing an application or major update), Windows creates a restore point. Later, if the changes cause problems, you can use these restore points to undo the changes.
Using a restore point will undo any subsequent changes to applications, drivers, and system updates. This includes adjustments made to the registry by such operations, allowing you to restore some parts of the registry that you have recently modified. However, this method is not perfect for resetting the registry.
It does not allow you to completely reset the registry unless you create a restore point immediately after you start using the new computer. Even for a less drastic reset, you may not have a restore point before making changes. Windows allows you to manually create a restore point, but if you have already encountered a problem, this will not help.
Reset Some of the Registry From a File Backup
The registry editor can easily export registry keys to save as a backup, share with others, or the like. This is another situation, if you do not export anything from the registry before you want to reset the registry, you will be out of luck.
However, for the future, it is better to know how to export registry keys and import them later to restore the backup. First, open the registry editor by typing registry in the start menu to find the utility. You need to provide administrator rights to run it.
Now in the left pane, right-click the registry value that you want to backup for later use and select Export. Give the exported file a name and choose where to save it on the system, and you will get a file ending in .reg.
To restore this file later, you can go to “File”> “Import” in the “Registry Editor” window and find it on your computer. For an easier method, just double-click the .reg file to merge it into your own registry.
Although you can right-click “Computer” and select “Export” to back up the entire registry, this is not very practical. Remember that the registry contains a large number of entries that change regularly. Attempting to merge the entire previous record with the current record may cause problems, so you should not do this.
Backing up and restoring individual registry keys is very safe when making minor changes, but resetting the entire registry to default is not practical.
How to Fix Registry Problems
Presumably, due to a system problem, you want to reset the Windows registry to default values. Although the aforementioned system restore and reset options are the best options for solving serious problems, Windows also includes some utilities to help find and repair damaged system files. You may not need to perform a hard reset, so try these tools first.
Windows used to include a tool called ScanReg to check registry problems, but it is not available in modern versions. Instead, you can use SFC scanning, which looks for invalid system files and tries to repair them if possible.
To run SFC, type cmd from the Start menu to display the command prompt tool, then right-click and select Run as administrator, because you need to open an elevated prompt to run this command. Provide administrator rights and enter the following:
This will perform a full scan of your system, which may take some time. When finished, you will see a summary of the results. If you need help with this tool or encounter problems that cannot be repaired, please check our SFC and DISM user guide.
How to Prevent Registry Damage in the Future
To avoid another situation where the registry is reset to its default value, you must be careful when making changes to it. Only make manual adjustments when you are sure what you are doing; do not follow random guides that include sign-up prompts unless you are sure you can trust them.
It is also recommended to back up in advance. If you haven’t set up system restore yet, be sure to set it up now. This can save you a lot of time if there are registration problems in the future.
Finally, don’t use a registry cleaner. These usually cause more problems than they solve, so stay away from them.
Restore the Registry When Needed
Now you know the main method to reset the Windows registry and other methods to undo registry changes. With a little care, you can avoid this problem in the future, so you don’t have to waste time rebooting the system.
Generally speaking, unless you have a specific reason for entering the registration form, it is best to stay away.
Related: How to Enter the BIOS on Windows 10 (And Older Versions)