Recently, our Web server crashed. It was an unpleasant experience, but because we have backups we were able to restore everything. During a traumatic computing experience like that you often wonder, "what happened?" The current theory is that our Web server tanked because the Windows registry became corrupted.
The registry is basically a database that keeps track of everything on your computer. It contains all the information Windows needs to work, including user profiles, hardware configuration, and countless other settings. When it dies, generally your computer fails to run. In short, it’s toast and I can report that when our Web server died, the computer essentially lost its mind. Our Web server is just a Windows computer much like the one you have on your desk, and its demise shows the importance of backing up your registry
In addition to being a good safety precaution, backing up the registry is important if you ever go muddling around in there making changes. Many articles include tips for changing your system that involve making changes to the registry. If you do, always make a backup first. Here’s what you need to do.
1. Choose Start|Run. In the Open field, type regedit. The Registry Editor appears.
2. In the Registry editor, you’ll notice that it contains a bunch of folders in the left pane. These are called keys. The right pane contains the values for the key selected in the left pane. (Tips often tell you to make changes to the values or keys to modify your system.)
3. To back up keys in the registry, choose File|Export. You can choose to backup just a key or the whole thing (choose All).
For a more complete backup of your system settings, Microsoft recommends using the Backup utility. It’s usually found by choosing Start|Programs|Accessories|System Tools. A wizard will run, but click Advanced Mode in the first panel. Then click the Backup tab, and place a checkmark next to System State. Click Browse to tell the utility where you want the backup to be stored and then click Start Backup.