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How to Reset the Microsoft XP Registry

Updated July 20, 2017

Resetting the Windows XP registry permissions can be a scary experience, but a necessary one if you cannot complete a Service Pack update because of permissions issues. Fortunately, you can install a free utility program from Microsoft and use it to reset the registry and file permissions to their default values. If you have Windows XP Professional Edition, you can reset the permissions from the command line alone.

If you are using Windows XP Professional Edition, use the SECEDIT command line program to reset registry and file system permissions.

Select "Run" from the Start Menu, then type "CMD" in the Open box and press "Enter." At the command line prompt, type:

secedit /configure /cfg %windir%\repair\secsetup.inf /dB secsetup.sdb /verbose

and press "Enter."

This resets the registry and file permissions.

If you are using Windows XP Home Edition, download the subinacl.msi file from Microsoft. (See the Resources section for the download location.)

Double-click the subinacl.msi file to obtain the subinacl.exe file, then double-click the subinacl.exe file.

Select "Run" from the Start Menu, then type CMD in the Open box and press "Enter." At the command line prompt:

Type cd /d "%ProgramFiles%\Windows Resource Kits\Tools" and press "Enter."

Type subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f and press "Enter."

Type subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_CURRENT_USER /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f and press "Enter."

Type subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f and press "Enter."

Type subinacl /subdirectories %SystemDrive%\ /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f and press "Enter."

This sequence resets the registry and file permissions.

Tip

If you are getting error messages saying you don't have permission to install programs, before resetting permissions close all open programs and disable any antivirus or antispyware software running in the background. You may also need to restart the computer. Before making any changes to the registry, use the REGEDIT command-line program to back up a copy of the registry contents.

Warning

If you are not experienced at working with the command-line interpreter (CMD command) you may want assistance in resetting the permissions. Before making any changes to the registry, use the REGEDIT command-line program to back up a copy of the registry contents.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer running Windows XP
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About the Author

Michael MacLeod has been a senior technical writer in California's Silicon Valley since 1976. He has written every kind of engineering and end-user documentation for a variety of computer hardware and software. He received an Associate of Arts in English from the College of San Mateo.