Windows 10 Registry %@$-up by Microsoft is no accident


There are times when we wonder about the decision-making process at Microsoft and the revelation about the stopping of registry backups in Windows 10 is a sad example of a bad choice.

We’ll explain what Microsoft secretly did last year to make Windows 10, Office and other programs less reliable and how you can fix their stupid choice (hopefully).

What happened?

In Windows 10 version 1803 (March 2018) Microsoft disabled the long-standing automatic backups of the Windows registry.

The Registry is where the vital settings for Windows, Office and other programs are kept.  If the Registry gets corrupted, your computer can misbehaved badly or not start at all. It’s important to have regular backups of the Registry and make backups before making any changes.  Windows 10 for Microsoft Office users and Office 365 for Windows: Straight Talk have a chapter devoted to editing and backups of the registry.

Windows had an automatic registry backup which made a copy each time the computer started.  A RegIdleBackup task managed the backups.

That’s all great and a good precaution. So naturally Microsoft dropped auto backups of the Registry in March 2018 AND didn’t tell customers they’d done it.

Secretly?

Ghacks discovered their missing registry backups last October. Finally, Microsoft has admitted the dropping of registry backups via a KB article released more than a year late.

Despite what many people might expect, Microsoft does NOT publish comprehensive lists of changes in Windows or Office. Instead there are only carefully curated lists of promotable highlights. In other words, the things Microsoft wants to hype and drive sales.

Why?

According to Microsoft they stopped registry backups to “reduce the overall disk footprint size of Windows” which translates as ‘saving disk space’. It’s a pretty poor excuse.  Apparently the push to sell Windows 10 tablets with smaller drives is more important to Microsoft than the legitimate needs and protection of desktop and laptop users.

Registry backups take about 100MB at most which isn’t a lot when most of us buy drives by the Terabyte. Even on smaller laptops, less than a GB for backups isn’t a lot on a 128GB drive.

It would have been better to provide an option in Settings to turn on/off the registry backups and manage the amount of space or number of past backups (just like System Restore points).  But that would have cost Microsoft development time and money. Easier and cheaper for Redmond to just disable the registry backups for all users and keep it quiet to hope no-one notices.

Posting an immediate notification and workaround via a KB article would have been better than Microsoft’s chosen path. According to Microsoft, the alternative is making a System Restore point.  These points are saved on a scheduled basis, on major events and manually. But they aren’t made automatically on each start like the automatic registry backup.  Even if the change is justifiable, the lack of communication is inexcusable.

What to do?

The backups are stored in  \Windows\System32\config\RegBack a system folder.

If you have enough disk space, and most people do, restart the automatic Registry backups. According to Microsoft, do that by adding (restoring) a registry entry:

HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Configuration Manager\

Name:  EnablePeriodicBackup
Type: REG_DWORD
Data: 1

Then restart the computer.  Adding that key will automatically create a scheduled task in the Microsoft\Windows\Registry folder.

In our tests on Windows 10 v1903 (May 2019), the registry backups were created however each backup was zero-length. Strange because that’s what Microsoft says should be happening before the registry key is added.

Quote from KB4509719 at 2 July 2019

Before adding the recommended registry key, the \Windows\System32\config\RegBack folder was empty.

It seems the Registry Backup isn’t working the way Microsoft says it should.  Either the KB article is wrong or Windows needs a patch … maybe both.


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