In this article, find out how to reset the registry to its default state in Windows 10, as well as other options to restore it and prevent errors.
The Windows registry houses a lot of data that contains information about the behavior of the operating system. Most of the changes you make on your system affect the registry, which therefore regularly adjusts, adds, and removes values.
If you accidentally bulked up the registry by doing some handling error or the like, you may be wondering how to reset the registry to default. Let’s take a look at the different registry reset methods in Windows and how to avoid these issues in the future.
The only way to completely reset the registry
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to reset the registry completely. The registry contains so much data about your specific Windows configuration that it is impossible to reset it without rendering your system inoperable.
Therefore, the only real way to reset the Windows registry to its default state is to reset your Windows PC. The Windows reset process reinstalls the operating system, which naturally resets the registry.
- To reset your Windows PC, open Settings in the start menu or with Windows + I, then go to Update and Security> Recovery and click on To start under the title Reset this PC.
You will then have the option of reinstalling Windows while keeping your files, or erasing everything and starting from scratch. You can also choose to reinstall Windows using your system’s recovery data or download a fresh copy of Windows 10 from the internet.
Whichever solution you choose, you will reinstall Windows 10 entirely, which will reset the registry. This is obviously not practical, but if you want to reset your entire registry to its default settings, this is the only possible method.
Reset recent registry changes using System Restore
System Restore is a recovery feature built into Windows. Whenever you make changes, such as installing an app or installing a major update, Windows creates a restore point. You can then use these restore points to roll back the changes if they cause problems.
Using a restore point undoes all changes made to applications, drivers, and system updates since that time. This includes the changes these actions make to the registry, which allows you to reset certain parts of the registry that you recently changed. However, this method is not perfect for completely resetting the registry.
This will not allow you to reset the registry entirely, unless you created a restore point as soon as you started using your brand new computer. Even for less drastic resets, you might not have a restore point right before you make the changes. Windows allows you to create a restore point manually, but that won’t help if you already have a problem.
Reset part of the registry from a file backup
Registry Editor makes it easy to export registry entries to keep as a backup, share with other people, etc.
It is good to know how to export registry entries and import them later to restore backup.
- First, open the registry editor by typing regedit in the start menu to find the utility.
- Now in the left panel right click on the registry value you want to save and choose Export.
- Give the exported file a name and choose where to save it on your system. 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 locate it on your computer.
- For an easier method, just double-click on the .reg file to merge it into your own registry.
You can right click on the computer and choose Export to back up your entire registry, but that’s not very practical. Remember that the registry contains a large number of entries that change regularly. Trying to merge an entire old registry into your current registry can cause problems, so you shouldn’t do it.
Backing up and restoring individual registry entries is a great security solution when making minor changes, but it’s not practical to reset the entire registry to default.
How do I resolve registry issues?
You are probably looking to reset the Windows registry to its default state due to some issues on your system. And while the above reset and system restore options are your best options for serious issues, Windows also includes some utilities to help you find and repair corrupted system files. You may not need to perform a full reset, so try these tools first.
Older versions of Windows provided a tool called ScanReg that checked for registry issues, but it is no longer available in current versions of the operating system. Instead, you can use a scan with the SFC tool, which looks for invalid system files and attempts to repair them when possible.
- To execute SFC, type cmd in the start menu to display the tool Command Prompt, then right-click and choose Execute as administratorbecause you need to open an elevated Command Prompt to run this command.
- Type the command below:
This will perform a full scan of your system, which may take some time. Once the scan is complete, you will see a summary of the results. If you need help with this tool, or if it finds any issues that it cannot resolve, check out our guide to using SFC and DISM.
How to avoid damaging the registry in the future?
To avoid another situation where you want to reset the registry to its default state, you need to be careful when making changes to it. Only make manual changes if you are sure what you are doing; do not follow tutorials unless you are sure they are reliable.
It is also a good idea to make regular backups. If you haven’t set up System Restore yet, be sure to do so now. It could save you a lot of time in case of registry issues.
Finally, do not use registry cleaning tools. They usually cause more problems than they solve, so avoid them.
Restore the registry when necessary
You now know the main method of resetting the Windows registry, as well as other ways to undo changes in the registry. And with a little care, you can avoid this problem so that you don’t have to spend time resetting your system.
In general, unless you have a specific reason to modify the registry, it is best to leave it alone.