How to turn on automatic Registry File backup in Windows 10

The April 2018 Windows 10 Update turned off the automatic backup process for the Windows 10 Registry File, leaving normal PC users more vulnerable than before.

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The April 2018 Windows 10 Update made many changes to the way the operating system works on your PC, and more than a few of them may have slipped by unnoticed. One of those below the radar changes may have been the fact that Microsoft decided to no longer automatically back up the Windows 10 Registry File—it's a change in OS behavior that could have dire consequences for the unsuspecting.

The consensus rationale was that Microsoft wanted to reduce the memory footprint on local hard drives, probably because so many of us are using SSDs with smaller capacities than their mechanical hard drive peers these days. While that sounds reasonable, it does mean that typical PC users no longer have a readily available Windows 10 Registry File backup. We can change that.

This tutorial shows you how to tweak the Windows 10 Registry File to turn on the automatic backup of the Windows 10 Registry File—back to the way it used to be.

SEE: Windows 10 May 2019 Update: 10 notable new features (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

How to turn on the automatic Registry File backup

You can see for yourself where the Windows 10 Registry File backup should be located by using File Explorer to navigate to this Windows directory on your OS drive (typically C:).

C:\Windows\System32\config\RegBack

After the April 2018 Windows 10 Update, this directory (while still there as a placeholder) will remain empty (Figure A).

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Figure A

To change back to the old behavior, where the Windows 10 Registry File is automatically backed up to this directory location, we will have to add a setting to the Registry File itself.

Disclaimer: Editing the Windows Registry file is a serious undertaking. A corrupted Windows Registry file could render your computer inoperable, requiring a reinstallation of the Windows 10 operating system and potential loss of data. Back up the Windows 10 Registry file and create a valid restore point before you proceed.

Type "regedit" into the search box on the Windows 10 desktop and select the Regedit application. As shown in Figure B, navigate to this key:

\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Configuration Manager

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Figure B

Right-click a blank spot in the right-hand panel in the Configuration Manager key and select New | DWORD (32-bit) Value. Label the new word as EnablePeriodicBackup, as shown in Figure C.

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Figure C

Double-click EnablePeriodicBackup in the right-hand pane and change the Value to "1", as shown in Figure D.

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Figure D

Click OK to complete the process and then Exit out of the regedit application. You will have to reboot your PC to have your new setting take effect.

From this point on, Windows 10 will now create a backup of the Registry File in the RegBack folder we looked at before (Figure E).

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Figure E

Windows 10 will also set up a task in the Task Scheduler to periodically refresh the backed up Registry File as needed, which should give you some peace of mind if you ever find yourself needing it to troubleshoot your computer.

Of course, if you ever want to turn off the automatic Registry File back up process, just return to EnablePeriodicBackup and change its value to "0" (zero).

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