How access and edit a registry of a non primary drive

Have you ever had a hard drive that you can't boot into, but need to change the registry? Here is the solution!
This article guides you through accessing and editing a registry of a non-primary drive.

To read registry information on a non-primary hard drive, follow these steps:

Make sure that the drive is assigned to a drive letter. (

You will first of all need to back up the registry, this is an important step for whenever your work with the registry, no matter of experience – we can all make mistakes!

To Make a Backup of the Registry:
With the computer at the desktop, load up the Registry Editor by pressing start>run, then type regedit. With the regedit window now open, go to File>Export and save it as “regbackup” in the desktop.
Now that the registry has been backed up, we can continue.

Select HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE in the left hand pane.
Click the File menu and choose Load Hive...
This will bring up a window where you will need to browse to the drive for which you want to access the registry. The location will be “x:\WINDOWS\System32\config\” where x is the mapped letter of the drive you wish to access. Select the “System” or “Software” file – one which does not have any suffixes.  Type a distinguishable name and click Open to open the hive.

When you have finished editing the registry, click File and choose Unload Hive. This will save the changes you have made to the original registry files.

Or if you'd rather follow step by step instructions:

1) Load up the Registry Editor (regedit.exe)
2) Click "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE" in the left pane.

3) Click the File menu and choose Load Hive

4) Browse to the non-primary hard drive's "%SystemRoot%\system32\config" directory from the "Load Hive" dialog box.

5) Click to select the "System" or "Software" file (no file suffixes) to open the respective registry hives. Type a temporary and distinguishable name and click "Open" to open the hive.

6) Click the File menu and choose Unload Hive when you have finished editing the non-primary drive's registry.

Comments (1)

Shouldn't you back up the registry of the non-primary hard drive after it is loaded?

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