Windows Registry plays a vital role in the smooth functioning of the operating system. All the background services, the configurations, your personal settings, and everything else that you see when Windows starts up has its entry in the Registry. Not only this, every application or the device driver that you install on the OS has an entry in Windows Registry as well.
Windows Registry can be accessed from its MMC or Microsoft Management Console that can be launched by typing ‘REGEDIT’ in the Cortana search box.
One thing that is worth mentioning at this point is, the entries in Windows Registry are configurable. If you have a thorough understanding of how the Registry settings work, or under which hive and by which name the entry of a particular Windows app is present, its value can be modified to make the program function differently.
However, you are strongly advised to be extremely cautious while altering the Registry as amending it incorrectly may make Windows behave obnoxiously or permanently unstable.
Usually, the inconsistencies caused to Windows due to faulty Windows Registry are and remain negligible until the issue is severe. A couple of reasons that may cause Windows Registry to get corrupt include:
If you have installed an application that you have obtained from an untrusted source, it is likely that the program brought some viruses or malicious script along with it, and they somehow managed to change the value of an entry in the Registry.
If your computer was switched off abruptly without following the regular procedure to shut down the operating system, Windows Registry may get faulty as it wouldn’t get enough time to save the modifications properly, thus making the OS unstable.
As it is with the hard disk drive, even the entries in Windows Registry get fragmented due to frequent installation, uninstallation, and usage of the applications. Sometimes trying various troubleshooting methods on the device drivers to make an unresponsive hardware work also fragments the Registry.
One of the senior officials from Microsoft suggests that removing any third-party antivirus program such as AVG, Avast, etc. fixes the issue most of the time, and the OS gets back to its normal working state. Because Windows 10 has its own built-in powerful antivirus software, Windows Defender that is a product of Microsoft itself, you can rely on it, and safely continue using the operating system.
However, if you experience any issues with Windows even after uninstalling the third-party antivirus tool, a couple of other solutions that could help you get the problem fixed are listed below:
A truly effective solution that even Microsoft recommends to resolve most of the issues that Windows encounters is the System File Checker tool. System file Checker is a built-in utility and can be executed from the elevated Command Prompt.
Note: An elevated Command Prompt is a command-line interface (Command Prompt window) that has administrative privileges, and is, therefore, able to perform almost all the tasks that only the administrators of the computer can.
You can learn how to launch an elevated Command Prompt window and use the System File Checker tool to fix the broken Registry items by following the steps given below:
Step 1: Open the Elevated Command Prompt Window
Type CMD in the Cortana search box in the Taskbar, and click Run as administrator from the results list. When the User Account Control confirmation box appears, click Yes to give your consent to launch the Command Prompt window with the administrator rights. Note: If you are using an older variant of Windows 10 and do not see the Run as administrator option, right-click Command Prompt from the search results, and then click Run as administrator from the context menu to open the elevated Command Prompt window.
Step 2: Run System File Checker
Type SFC /SCANNOW in the elevated Command Prompt window, and press Enter. Wait while the System File Checker utility scans Windows for any inconsistencies including those within Windows Registry, and automatically fixes them for you.
Step 3: Restart Windows
Even though Windows 10 is smart enough to accommodate most of the changes without a reboot, doing so would ensure that all the repaired Registry entries and other system files are in place.
Deployment Image Servicing and Management is another built-in utility in Windows 10 that can also be executed from the elevated Command Prompt window. The DISM command is quite advanced when used with proper switches, and helps enable or disable features, configuring the operating system, troubleshooting the issues, and doing much more.
You can learn how to fix broken registry items with the DISM command by following the instructions given below:
Step 1: Launch Elevated Command Prompt
Use the method explained above to launch the elevated Command Prompt window.
Step 2: Scan System Health
In the Command Prompt window, type DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth and press Enter. When the command executes successfully, type DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth and hit Enter again. Wait while DISM repairs any errors that Windows Registry has.
Step 3: Restart the PC
Once the DISM command is processed, restart the computer to allow the changes to take effect.
Windows is configured to create restore points from time to time, especially before making any major changes such as installing or uninstalling a device driver. Because such instances of Windows state are likely to be error-free, restoring the operating system to them fixes almost all the major issues that they may have recently encountered. You can follow the steps given below to learn how to restore Windows 10 to an earlier restore point:
Step 1: Open Control Panel in the Small icons View Mode
Type Control Panel in the Cortana search box, and click the Control Panel app from the results list. Select Small icons from the View by list present at the top-right corner of the window.
Step 2: Launch the System Restore Box
Click Recovery from the available tools, and click Open System Restore from the Advanced recovery tools window that opens up next.
Step 3: Restore Windows to an Earlier Restore Point
On the System Restore box, click Next on the welcome window. On the next screen, select the latest restore point from the available list, click Next, and then click Finish to begin the restoration process.
You should follow the tips given below to prevent any issue from arising in Windows Registry:
Registry is a backbone for Windows. If something goes wrong with it, or even if a couple of entries get corrupted, you are likely to experience frequent Windows crashes, Blue Screen of Deaths (BSOD), etc. In some cases, you may even see a couple of devices behaving obnoxiously, thus preventing you from using the PC flawlessly.
Therefore, a few precautionary steps such as regularly backing up the Registry, not installing any random third-party antivirus program, using applications only from the trusted sources, always having a genuine copy of Windows installed, etc. must be taken to ensure that all the entries are correct and error-free. If some of the entries still get broken, restoring Windows Registry from the backup is something that can troubleshoot the problem instantaneously.
Q1) Do I have to perform a clean install if Windows Registry gets corrupted?
A1) Usually, the troubleshooting methods explained above fix the problems. However, if the issue persists, you can try resetting Windows to the factory defaults with or without removing your personal files. This can be done by going to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Recovery, and then clicking Get started from under the Reset this PC section.
Q2) Can I make any changes to Windows Registry?
A2) A short answer would be, “Yes, you can.”. However, you must be extremely cautious while modifying any of the Registry entries as even a single wrong input can make your Windows permanently unstable. Therefore, even though you can modify the Registry, you are strongly advised NOT to do so to avoid any damages to your PC.
Q3) Can I use the Windows Registry of one PC on a different computer?
A3) No. That is not possible. This is because every computer has a different configuration, devices from different vendors, and different RAM and processor types. When Windows is installed, the Registry entries are created to work according to those set of hardware, and using a copy of Registry from one PC will remain incompatible with the other computer.