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Registry Hive Files -- Mystery behind the Windows Registry
Hive file is one of your option when you wnat to export a branch or the whole registry, beside the registration (.reg) file and the text files, but hive files have more advantages than the other types:
    * Hive files are binary files
    * More accurate than .reg files which are text based file
    * You can load a hive file to registry, edit the file, then unload it without affecting the current registry settings
    * When you import a hive file to registry, Regedit will delete the key from the registry before importing
       it from hive file, unlike the registration files which will be merged with the current key in registry
Importing or Loading
With hive files you have two actions you can choose between:
Important: As I mentioned before Regedit will delete the key from registry before importing it from hive file, this will ensure that the key will be exactly the same when you did the backup to the hive file
To import hive file select Import from File menu in Regedit then select the file
Load: With the load option you can change keys and values inside hive file using Regedit without affecting the current registry settings
To load hive file:
   1. Open Regedit (in windows 2000 you have to use Regedt32.exe)
   2. Select HKLM or HKU in the key pane
   3. From File menu select Load Hive
   4. Select the hive file in the File Name dialog box and press OK
   5. Type any name you want in the Key Name dialog box
   6. You will find a new key with the name you select contains the subkeys saved in the hive file you load
After loading hive file you can browse its contents normally in Regedit. While the file is loaded you cannot do anything with it before you unload it (like copy or move). To unload hive file:
   1. Select the subkey which contain the hive file in key pane
   2. From File menu select Unload Hive
You can use the the load and unload hives to change the user settings while they are loged off by loading NTUSER.dat file from the user profile.