If you have been using your computer for a while, you are likely to run into Windows Registry problems. Since the registry is essentially the central database of your system, timely action could save you a crashed computer somewhere down the line. Some common symptoms to look out for are: a slowdown in speed while turning on or shutting down your system, a sluggish or frequently freezing computer, and encountering application/system errors without reason.
Before taking any steps to repair the Windows Registry, start by creating a backup of your Registry. This is a vital step as you will be skipping some of the normal safeguards while trying to fix the errors, and should anything go wrong, you will still have a functional copy of your essential files to restore your system. One of the easiest backup methods in Windows 7 and other versions is to take System Restore snapshots which allow you to roll back your computer to settings at a particular point of time. If you plan to make edits only to a particular branch of the registry, you could backup by exporting only that potion of the registry branch. A more time consuming but highly recommended alternative is to take a backup of your whole registry in a.reg file with the help of the ERUNT Utility available in all Windows versions. This way, you have a more comprehensive copy of your files in case of a system failure.
To return your registry and system files to their status at a previous point in time, the simplest method is to opt for a System Restore. You can do this by choosing the Recovery icon on your Control Panel; simply choose the date you want your system settings to roll back to and you are all set. Alternatively, you can import your Regedit file by typing regedit in the Start Menu. Click on the Import option in the File menu and choose your.reg file from its saved location to restore your saved data from the backup.
A registry fix can be done either manually or with software. You can choose to manually detect and delete files causing your registry to choke but do it with extreme caution for deleting important files by mistake can make your entire system crash. A better method is to simply purchase some software to help you scan your registry files and deal with the problem files. If you prefer to make the changes manually, follow these steps for Windows XP:
Click on Start and Run
Type “regedit” and hit OK
In the now open Registry Window, locate the subkey for editing by navigating down to it or else hitting Ctrl+F to Find it
Reset the subkey value as desired
Restart your machine for the changes to take effect
The Windows Registry is a critical part of your machine and should be handled with great care. Do not delete anything unless you are absolutely sure and do not attempt to edit the registry manually unless there is no other course open to you. If at any point, you are unsure of what you are doing, stop and consult a professional. Good luck!