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Very basic question, I think the answer is "Yes", but need to be certain.

Note: I can't count on "restore points", since they do not work on my XP machine.

1) Make a backup of the entire registry on date (example date 1).

2) In the future, if I need to restore all installed programs (and all registry settings), then using the file created on (example date 1) will do this.

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Since it is important, I need to ask again a slightly different way: My XP is currently more important than the Vista notebook.

XP / Compaq / ~4 years old

1) One type of system restore does work; All the settings + installed programs are exactly like day 1, but no data files or program files are destroyed.

2) At that point I have to re-install 4 years worth of commercial and FOSS programs.

3) #2 is what I have to avoid doing again.

????

Will this work? (4a + 4b)

4a) If needed: Restore to day 1 with all data files and program files intact. (Please Note: My Compaq "system restore to day 1", does not erase program files)

4b) Use the most recent registry backup file to re-install all my programs at once.

^^^^ Will Step #4b work as expected, and all the programs are 're-installed?'

Thank you for advice

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No that won't work the way you want. The registry contains application information but not the actual programs themselves which will be gone when you restore to day 1. Files within My Document are protected but anything else is fair game for System Restore to remove if you've picked a restore point prior to those file existing.

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Compaq / XP has a set-up where NO files are destroyed, so all the files will still be in c\program files. The registry is "restored" to day 1 and (I hope) not much else is affected. ... –  This_Is_Fun Sep 25 '10 at 19:48
    
...so it seems like a reg backup file would, in effect, re-install all the programs, thank you. –  This_Is_Fun Sep 25 '10 at 19:51
    
So long as your program files are still there then in theory yes it will work. You might run into some unusual problems with any product that embeds heavily with Windows (Visual Studio for example) but it's certainly an obscure backup method you've chosen. Perhaps you should investigate some other backup options like Acronis True Image or Storagecraft Shadow Protect that take low level images of your hard disks. –  chunkyb2002 Sep 25 '10 at 19:53
    
OK, I'll check thank you. –  This_Is_Fun Sep 25 '10 at 19:55
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