How to Copy the Registry From One Computer to Another

By Ken White

The Windows registry is a central location where system and installed program configuration information is stored. This information is stored in files known as "hives" on the hard drive. The registry has five sections that control user configuration, operating system configuration, application and file configuration, user account settings and hardware configuration. Information in the registry can be imported and exported to ".reg" files that can be transferred and loaded into the registry of another computer.

Step 1

Open the Start Menu. Type "regedit" in the text field at the bottom of the menu. Press "Enter."

Step 2

Scroll to the top of the left window and click "Computer" if you want to export the entire registry. Click the arrows next to each key to expand the registry and click to highlight the key you want to export if you want to save and copy a specific registry entry. Click the "File" drop-down menu and click "Export."

Step 3

Type a file name for the registry file in the "File Name" text field. Select a file type to save the exported registry as in the "Save As Type" drop-down menu; the best option is to use "Registration Files (*.reg)." Click "Save."

Step 4

Copy the ".reg" file to the destination computer using email, direct transfer over a network or removable media such as a USB thumb drive or CD. Double-click the ".reg" file to import the file into the destination computer's registry or open "regedit" and click "File," "Import" and select the ".reg" file.

Tips & Warnings

  • Importing a full registry file to another computer can cause errors in Windows unless the hardware and software of the destination computer is exactly like that of the source computer.