How to Access a Windows Registry

by Deborah Waltenburg

The Microsoft Windows Registry is the database in which information and settings for all hardware, Windows software, other software and user settings are stored. Whether you are modifying the registry or need to open it to troubleshoot a Windows problem, you must first access it.

Click the Start button on your desktop, then click "Run" on the Start Menu.

Type the word "regedit" in the Run box. Click the OK button.

Use drop down buttons to open each file. To close a file, click the drop down button again (which appears as a "minus" sign when the file is open).

Create a backup of Windows Registry BEFORE you modify anything. For XP, click "Start," then "Run" from the Start Menu. Type "%SystemRoot%\system32\restore\rstrui.exe" in the Run box and click "OK."

Choose "Create a restore point" and click "Next."

Name your registry backup and click "Create." You will see the date, time and name of your backup file. Should you need to use the backup, this is the point which Windows XP will use to restore your registry.


  • close Never modify Windows Registry without first backing it up. Altering or deleting registry keys can cause irreparable harm to the Windows operating system.

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About the Author

Based in Ohio, Deborah Waltenburg has been writing online since 2004, focusing on personal finance, personal and commercial insurance, travel and tourism, home improvement and gardening. Her work has appeared on numerous blogs, industry websites and media websites, including "USA Today."

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera DS Waltenburg 2009