Fix: Error Accessing the Registry

Some users are getting the “error accessing the registry” error when trying to merge a registry key on a Windows computer. Most affected users report that the issue occurred after they did a re-install of their Windows version and tried to open a .reg file. The issue is mostly encountered on Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10.

Cannot import. Error accessing the registry

What is causing the “error accessing the registry” issue?

We researched this error message by looking at various user reports and the repair strategies that they used to either circumvent or resolve the issue entirely. Based on our investigations, there are a couple of common scenarios that will trigger this particular error message:

  • Registry File doesn’t have administrative privileges – This scenario is quite common with fresh Windows installs/reinstall. If Registry Editor hasn’t been opened before, it’s likely that the program doesn’t have the necessary permissions to merge the .reg file with your current registry.
  • System file corruption is causing the error – There are confirmed cases where this error appeared due to a suite of corrupted system files that were interfering with the importing abilities of the Registry Editor utility. If that’s the case, there are two confirmed solutions (system restore and repair install) that are known to resolve the issue.

If you’re struggling to resolve this particular error message, this article will provide you with a selection of verified troubleshooting steps. In the area that follows, you’ll discover several potential fixing methods that other users in a similar situation have used to get the issue resolved.

For the best results, follow the methods below in order until you discover a fix that is applicable to your current situation and manages to resolve the issue.

Method 1: Importing the registry file with administrator privileges

As several affected users have suggested, chances are that you’re dealing with a privilege issue. Most likely the Registry Editor utility doesn’t have enough permissions to merge the file yet. This is a fairly common thing with new Windows installations where the Registry Editor hasn’t been opened before.

Several users that were struggling to resolve the same error message have reported that the issue was finally resolved after they opened Registry Editor with Administrative privileges and use the Import menu to merge the files. Here’s a quick guide on how to do this:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Then, type “regedit” and press  Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open up Registry Editor with administrative privileges.
    Typing Regedit in Run to Open Registry Editor
  2. At the UAC (User Account Control) prompt, choose Yes to grant administrative privileges.
    Granting administrative permissions to Registry Editor
  3. Inside Registry Editor, go to File > Import using the ribbon bar at the top.
    Using the built-in Import menu of Registry Editor
  4. Use the Import menu to navigate to the location of the file that you’re trying to merge. Once you get there, select it and click Open to merge it with your current registry.
    Merging the key with the current registry

    Note: The same principle applies to those situations where you encounter the error when trying to import a .reg key automatically via a .bat file. In order for it to work, you’ll need to run it from an elevated CMD window – press Windows key + R, type “cmd” and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open a Command Prompt window with administrative privileges.

    This procedure should have successfully circumvented the “error accessing the registry” error. If you’re still getting the error or this method is not applicable to your current situation, move down to the next method below.

Method 2: Performing a System Restore

If you’ve just started getting this error message out of the blue (you didn’t perform a Windows reinstall recently), it’s possible that a system file has become corrupted and is preventing the merging operation from completing.

In this particular case, users finding themselves in a similar situation have managed to get the issue resolved by using the System Restore wizard to revert the machine to a previous point in time (when registry operations were functioning properly).

Using an older system restore point will return your machine state to how it was when the backup was created. This will fix any errors that might have appeared during that time, but will also get rid of any applications and user settings that you installed or created during that time.

Here’s a quick guide on using the System Restore wizard:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Then, type “rstrui” and press Enter to open the System Restore wizard.
  2. Once you get to the first System Restore screen, you will be asked whether you want to use the recommended restore point. Change the toggle to Choose a different restore point and hit Next to continue.
  3. Choose a system restore point from the list and hit Next to proceed.
  4. Hit Finish to finalize the restoring process. After a short while, your computer will restart and the old state will be restored.
  5. Once the next startup is complete, try to merge/import the file again and see if the error message has been resolved.
Restoring the machine state to a previous point using System Restore

If you’re still encountering the “error accessing the registry” error, move down to the next method below.

Method 3: Performing a repair install

If you’ve come this far without a result, it’s very likely that you’re encountering this issue because of system file corruption. Most likely, a system file or service that is used during the registry importing process is corrupted and can no longer be accessed.

Several users that have been struggling with precisely the same error have reported that the issue was finally resolved after they performed a repair install.

A repair install is a non-destructive procedure that will refresh all Windows components without touching any of your personal files or applications. It does roughly the same thing as a clean install, but leaves your applications, user preferences and personal files out of the equation.

If you decide to do a repair install, you can follow the instructions present in this article (here).


Kevin Arrows

Kevin Arrows is a highly experienced and knowledgeable technology specialist with over a decade of industry experience. He holds a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification and has a deep passion for staying up-to-date on the latest tech developments. Kevin has written extensively on a wide range of tech-related topics, showcasing his expertise and knowledge in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. His contributions to the tech field have been widely recognized and respected by his peers, and he is highly regarded for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner.