How can I get back into Windows after changing a registry file?

Sheila November 6, 2011

My desktop wasn’t loading. I could access some Start Menu items, but it would freeze. I opened the Task Manager to end the process “explorer.exe”, but that didn’t work. So I decided to go into the Registry and change one of the keys that has to do with logging in. Now I get to the Windows welcome screen, but can’t get into it and it won’t let me go into Safe Mode either. :-(

  1. Mike
    November 7, 2011 at 7:15 am

    Once you are booted from a different system e.g. command line via UBCD or some Linux system you can try to revert your registry:

    For Windows XP the steps are detailed here.
    The copy, rename and delete commands may be a bit different depending on the system you are performing them from. However it is necessary to follow the entire article through step four.
    Otherwise your registry will be set back to a point of a fresh installed Windows and everything stored within will be lost (which probably includes software licences and other stuff).

    For Windows 7 and Vista it's almost the same except all you have to do is backup the existing registry hives DEFAULT, SAM, SECURITY, SOFTWARE and SYSTEM from C:WindowsSystem32config and then copy the backups located at C:WindowsSystem32configRegBack into their place.
    These backups are made very Monday so the loss should be rather low.

    Next time I suggest to consult us with the original problem instead of changing some random registry setting (or any registry entry for that matter).

    • Sheila Brown1
      November 7, 2011 at 6:08 pm

      Mike, you are absolutely correct I had no business change the registry key, in the beginning the "explorer.exe" was not appearing, no icons only the task bar but now when I went to change the registry key and restarted the computer, windows welcome window appears but when I put in my password it tries to log on but then shuts down....

    November 6, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Hello, you didn't mention your operating system.  System restore would be the optimum solution for you.  If for some reason you can't restore your system by using the common processes, you can try the following:

    ERD commander is not available anymore ever since winternals was bought by Microsoft.  You could go to following article, see if it helps:

    ERD commander on usb:

    • Sheila Brown
      November 7, 2011 at 4:12 am

      Hi Fidelis, my operating system is win xp home edition serv pack3 version 2002 I will try your option and I'm 100% sure its the registry b/c I change it to something I shouldn't have done to make it not let me log on.

      • FIDELIS
        November 7, 2011 at 4:33 am

        Hello, just let us know it if works or if it doesn't.  If it doesn't, we can keep troubleshooting.  Good Luck

        • Sheila Brown1
          November 7, 2011 at 4:40 am

          Okay, thanks...:-D

        • Sheila Brown1
          November 7, 2011 at 5:46 pm

          Hi Fidelis,  not working

        • FIDELIS
          November 8, 2011 at 1:39 am

          Hello Sheila, do you have access to another computer? I ask you this, so that you can download the following free software. The download link is at the bottom of the screen. Once downloaded, burn it to cd:

          or, once file is downloaded, you can create a bootable usb drive/flashdrive:

          This file contains a few applications that if used right, can repair or troubleshoot most problems. I would recommend something else, but as you said yourself you do not have an installation disk. This software provides a mini windows xp version that you can use. Once the disk is burned or usb is ready, you can start your computer from either of them, you just have to change the boot order in your computer. If you are using cd, make sure to set cd/dvd as the first startup entry in BIOS. If you created a usb drive, make sure to set usb drive as first entry. Most times I advice to make a cd because pretty much it is a default startup entry in any BIOS. Some BIOS do not allow to start up from usb. Once you have everything ready do the following:

          -- insert cd into drive (or connect usb)
          -- restart computer and stay focused on the screen
          -- When computer first restarts, it will give you an option to enter setup, look for it. Depending on BIOS it could be delete, F2, etc. If you do not catch in time the first time, just restart your system
          -- once computer restarts keep pressing the key mentioned above
          -- look for boot up order in BIOS
          -- either change to cd/dvd or usb drive according to what you have
          -- in BIOS, navigate to last menu entry on top and select save and restart.
          -- now when system restarts, make sure to press any key when asked if you want to start from cd/dvd
          -- once disk start loading, select start mini xp
          -- it will give a version of xp that is running on RAM. It is same as yours only that it does not have all the bells and whistles.
          -- first, try to do a system restore
          -- second open command prompt and type the following: sfc /scannow
          -- once system is restored and the sfc /scannow system is finished, restart system.
          -- you do not have to take the disk out, just remember not to press any keys to boot up from cd/dvd.
          -- is it working ok?

          If this does not work, restart computer from cd/dvd and once disk menu shows up, select hiren's boot cd entry. Once there navigate to registry tools and open the following tool first. Once tools opens, navigate to entry you changed and set it back to the way it was before.....hopefully you just change the entry and not delete it.

          Registry Editor PE

          Once changes are finished, restart system normally. Did it work? If not, please restart system from cd/dvd and open the following tool:

          Registry Restore Wizard:

          Follow and read all instructions to run program and once finished, restart system. If this does not work, try the following tool:

          Registry Viewer

          Make changes to registry and then restart. Hopefully one of these methods will work for you. Just make sure to implement changes one at the time. Also let us know if it works

  3. Jeff Fabish
    November 6, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Hi Sheila,

    Use system restore, which will take your computer (including registry) back in time to before you corrupted the registry. If you didn't have system restore enabled, this isn't an option.

  4. Anonymous
    November 6, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    1) Boot on UBCD: ultimate boot cd
    you should burn the cd on another pc. then boot on it on your windows.
    2) In the UBCD4Win interface, goto Start > Programs > Registry Tools > Registry RestoreWizard.
    3) The program will then ask you which Windows registry you want to repair. In most cases,it’ll be C:Windows. Choose the copy of Windows you want to repair and press Next.
    4) Choose “Fix the system registry to that of a previous state” and Press Next.
    5) You should now see a list registry restore points. Choose one with a date a few days before the issue first occured.
    6) Wait a few seconds for it to restore the registry. Press Finish and restart the computer.

  5. Mjevolve
    November 6, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    hello , 
    go into the Advanced Boot screen and click on 
    " Last Known Good Configuration ." 
    the system would automatically start if it works .

    if it doesnt , 
    Boot the system with a Windows CD or Windows USB , 
    and go to repair my computer .
    let it run the test to see what is wrong and preventing the OS to boot properly and it would itself apply any repairs if required .
    you can manually go onto System Restore and restore it to a Previous date .

    even the option of " Repair my Computer " would appear on the Advanced Boot Screen .
    you can try there also .
    if it fails then Pop in the Windows CD .

    • Sheila Brown1
      November 7, 2011 at 4:17 am

      Hi Mjevolve, Unfortunately, the machine won't let me log on to it once I get to the welcome screen its shuts itself down when I try to log on....and I'm one of those people who don't have a CD

    • Sheila Brown1
      November 7, 2011 at 4:24 pm

      Unfortunately I don't have a CD

      • Mjevolve
        November 7, 2011 at 6:52 pm

        hello Shiela , 
        well, Logging on into your account is a step that comes much later than Booting of the OS .
        your failing to log on , might be because of many reasons . 
        some critical error in the explorer.exe files , desktop client service not running , user profile service failing to start , some malware , many ...

        what i suggested is a step that is much before going onto the log on screen .

        just as you hit the power button , 
        hit Escape , Delete , F8 F10, F11 or any other button as specified for your make of PC , to go into the Advanced Start up screen or even the Safe Mode directly .
        just use another computer and google what key is required for your computer to enter into Advanced start up screen or the Safe Mode .

        if you find the key for Safe Mode , 
         keep pressing it continuously after powering on to enter into Safe Mode , 
        once in , just hit System Restore and restore your system to some other date .
        it will work .

        or if your are able to find a key for Entering the Advanced Start up screen , 
        press it continuously after powering on and you would enter it .
        here you can hit System Repair , Last known good configuration and even Safe Mode .

        if none works you would have to go for a Win XP boot disk to go for a system repair , but you say you dont have one .

        well , you can download the Windows Home Edition ISO file from here - 

        its a torrent file . 
        you can download it with uTorrent .

        after the download , 
        just burn it onto a CD with ImageBurn .

        it would create a bootable disc for WinXP .
        Pop it in and Boot your computer from the disc drive and go for System repair .

        tell if it works or if more help needed .. :)

        • Mjevolve
          November 7, 2011 at 6:59 pm

          you can also use an excellent tool - Hiren's Boot CD 

          download it and create a bootable disc
          and then boot your system into it and start the Mini WinXP mode in it .

          and try System Repair from it .

          from the developers " Portable Windows Xp that runs from CD/USB/Ram Drive to repair/recover dead windows operating system. " 

          try and see the alternatives ..  !

  6. Jay
    November 6, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    I think safe mode option appears before the os boots.
    when you kill explorer.exe , you have to task manager and load a new task to from run, it solves the problem and everything loads.may be you will need your windows os boot cd for this one.

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