Modify the Windows Registry from Startup Repair

Many of you will probably be familiar with Windows Vista’s and Windows 7’s Startup Repair feature. It repairs the Windows boot files, checks the disk for errors, let’s you restore your computer using System Restore, and corrects incorrect registry values. Well, most of the time. There are some errors that Startup Repair hasn’t been programmed to detect. There have been many cases where people have made an incorrect change to the registry, preventing Windows from booting, and have had to reinstall Windows. Luckily, as long as you know which registry entry you messed up, you can manually modify it from Startup Repair.

  1. First, we have to start Startup Repair. If you have Windows Vista, insert your Vista installation disk, restart your computer, when prompted, press any key to start Windows from the disk, then choose your language settings, then click Repair your computer. If you have Windows 7, restart your computer, hold F8, and then choose Repair your computer.
  2. In the System recovery options menu, choose Command Prompt.
  3. At the command prompt, type: regedit.
  4. The Registry Editor will appear. Now you just edit the registry like any other time, right? Wrong. The registry displayed in regedit at the moment is Startup Repair’s limited diagnostics environment’s registry. Any changes you make to it will be undone when you restart your computer, by the way. Now we have to load your Windows installation’s registry hives.
  5. Click on any key (for example, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE), open the File menu, and click on Load hive…
  6. In the box that appears, click on Computer, and open the drive where Windows is installed. Note: it might not have the same drive letter as it usually has, and it definitely won’t be X: (that’s Startup Repair’s temporary drive).
  7. Go to “Windowssystem32config”. Here you will see a list of registry hives. You’ll probably want SOFTWARE or SYSTEM.
    Registry Hives
  8. Select the registry hive of your choice. When prompted, enter a key name for that hive, for example, “windows-system“. Now a new key with the name you chose will appear inside the key you clicked in step 5. All registry entries in the hive you selected will appear under this key.
  9. When you’ve finished editing the hive, click on its key, open the File menu and click unload key. You can also have multiple keys at once loaded too.

Note: If you want to import a .reg file, for example, to add some keys and values to HKLMSystem, and you’ve got the SYSTEM hive loaded under HKLMwindows-system, you’ll have to replace all occurrences of System in the file with windows-system. To do this, in the import window, right-click on the .reg file and click Edit. In the Notepad window that appears, you can use the Replace option to do this.


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