I’m currently stuck using my backup system until I can replace my dead motherboard. In the meantime, I have put my hard-drive in this system so that I can access my files and keep working on the backup system. Fortunately, I don’t have a permission issues with the files (the partitions are FAT32). The issue I’m having is with the registry.

I need to import some of my settings from the hives of my (old? normal?) installation of Windows into the one I’m currently using. Settings from the system hives (SYSTEM, SOFTWARE, etc.) are fine, but the user hive is giving me trouble.

I’ve copied the NTUSER.DAT file from my other drive and mounted it with the reg command. Most of the keys (eg Software) are fine and I can access them without problem, but some of them (particularly the Identities key where Outlook Express settings are stored) complains that it cannot be opened.

If I open the permissions dialog, I get an error about being unable to view the current permssions. If I then ignore it and try to take ownership of the key and it’s subkeys, I get an access-denied error. If I then add permissions for my user account on this system, I get an error, however I am then able to see the subkeys and values of the key. If I then try to access the subkeys, I get the same original errors. If I repeat the process for each subkey, I can see their values and subkeys, and so on, but of course this gets to be incredibly annoying and time-consuming (especially since the Identities key has a lot of subkeys).

Is there an easier/temporary/more correct way to dump a key so that I can import it into my backup system?

2 Answers 2


Alternatively you could use PSExec to launch regedit as the user "System". Once you extract the files, open a Command Prompt as administrator (if on Vista or 7), navigate to the folder where you extracted psexec to. Use the following command to launch the registry as System:

psexec -i -s -d regedit.exe

This will allow you to change any registry key without any restrictions. This will make changing permissions a lot easier on the keys. Your method also works but it would be much easier to accomplish this without having to deal with pre-imposed permission issues.

  • That worked nicely; thanks! (It’s strange that using and admin account is often insufficient.) I’ll add a note that when running it as System, if you export to a file on the desktop, it’s not your own desktop, but rather the desktop of the System account (duh) in %systemroot%\System32\Config\SystemProfile\Desktop.
    – Synetech
    May 30, 2011 at 5:36

I ended up using SUBINACL. (In my case: > subinacl /subkeyreg hkey_users\z\identities /grant=foobar)

  • Your analogduck link is dead. Jun 21, 2012 at 21:37
  • Their domain expired a few months ago and they did not renew (or it was slip-jacked from them).
    – Synetech
    Jun 22, 2012 at 2:59

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