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Messing around in Windows is part of my daily work, even if it’s just for experimenting and learning. With dozens of corrupted Windows under my belt, I must emphasize you shouldn’t be tweaking some of the sensitive Windows features without the necessary knowledge.

It’s okay to tweak them if you have the exact instructions in hand; I mean, I often recommend you to tweak them to improve your Windows experience. I am mainly talking about tweaking them out of curiosity and to experiment.

These features can easily corrupt Windows or the data inside, so you need to be extra careful when tweaking. In this post, I’ll talk about these sensitive features and how to keep your PC safe if you intend to tweak them or if you have already messed things up.

Have a Recovery Plan

Your first line of defense is to have a recovery plan in place before ever dealing with risky Windows features. If things do go south, you should be able to revert back or at least have important data backed up in a safe place.

Below are some common recovery solutions you should consider setting up:

System Restore

System restore will let you restore your PC to a previous state and revert any changes made after the restore point time. Windows can create restore points automatically, but you can also manually create one before doing something risky. Search for Restore in Windows, Search and open Create a restore point option from the results.

This will open the System Protection window, where you can adjust the allocated space for automatic system restore and manually create a restore point.

Recovery Drive

You can create a recovery drive in Windows that can be used to troubleshoot problems or restore Windows. It is especially useful when Windows becomes corrupted and unable to boot. You can launch the PC through the USB drive to restore to a previous state or fix detectable issues.

Third-Party Back-Up Solutions

If you have irreplaceable data on your PC, then a backup solution is worth it. You can either backup data in the cloud or use a tool like Acronis Advanced Backup for local backups. You might also be interested in disk cloning if you prefer having an exact copy of your OS and data.

Windows Registry

If you have ever read an instruction online that involved tweaking the Windows Registry, there is a good chance there was a dedicated warning section with the Registry backup instructions. The Registry is not only risky to edit but also complex to edit, making it hard to undo the changes. Trust me; I was forced to reset my test PC from my last Registry hacking attempts because I didn’t create proper backups.

Windows Registry, as the name suggests, works like a register for all the settings and apps in Windows. Anything you change in it directly impacts Windows and how it works. This means deleting or adding anything to it could easily break functions. There is no undo button or easy steps to edit or remove the changes.

Some common issues that could arise include crashes, slow performance, corrupt applications, boot failure, and in some cases, exposing your system to security vulnerabilities.

Recommended Recovery Steps

Unfortunately, there is no method to reset the Windows Registry to fix it since it also records your apps and data that will break if the Windows Registry is set to default. The Registry has a built-in “Export” function to create a backup of the Registry, which is recommended to use every time you edit the Registry.

If you didn’t back up the Registry and you don’t have a restore point to go back to, then unfortunately, you’ll have to reset the PC. Although Registry cleaner tools can fix basic app-related entries, they can’t fix a broken Registry.

To reset Windows, open Windows Settings and go to System > Recovery > Reset this PC.

Here select the Keep my files option and follow the instructions.

The reset process will not delete your data inside the partitions, like documents, media, files, etc. However, it will fully reset Windows settings and uninstall all apps and programs.

Device Manager

The Device Manager fully controls the drivers that are responsible for the functioning of your PC hardware. You can use it to install new drivers, update drivers, and uninstall/disable them. It is dangerous because any incorrect driver installation or uninstallation can make hardware components unusable.

I recently made my graphics completely unusable by installing an incorrect driver, I had to switch to the built-in graphics card to even see the screen. Device drivers can lead to similar problems that might even require a complete reset of the PC from the starting screen.

You shouldn’t manually install or uninstall drivers. Windows can handle basic drivers fine, and I highly recommend using a third-party driver updater to automatically manage driver updates. These tools have built-in methods to fix problems if things do go wrong.

Recommended Recovery Steps

If you disable or uninstall a driver, usually just restarting the PC fixes it since Windows automatically re-installs them. However, incorrect driver installation or bad updates need to be fixed by rolling back to the right version.

In the Device Manager, right-click on the malfunctioning driver and select Properties. Here move to the Driver tab and click on Roll Back Driver to move back to the previously working driver. Alternatively, you can right-click the driver and select Update Driver. Afterward, select Browser my computer for drivers to see the list of available drivers on the PC to install.

If you are able to download an automatic driver updater tool, then these tools can also fix driver problems by automatically finding the right driver and installing it.


Windows uses the Pagefile on the storage drive to save less important processes from RAM when more load is put on it. It’s very important for the stable performance of the PC as it prevents memory errors by freeing up RAM for important tasks. However, depending on how much RAM you have, Pagefile can be tweaked to free up storage space or improve performance.

If you incorrectly tweak Pagefile or disable it, then it can lead to system freezes if your PC RAM can’t handle your activity.

Recommended Recovery Steps

The best way to fix it is to undo the changes you made to the Pagefile. However, you’ll have trouble doing that if your PC has already started freezing. To fix that, restart the PC and don’t turn on any other apps. Try to also close any startup apps from the system tray if there are any.

Now press the Windows+R keys and type SystemPropertiesPerformance in the Run dialog to open Performance Options. Here under the Advanced tab, click on Change and then enable the Automatically manage page filing size for all drives option.

Windows Firewall

Windows Firewall is responsible for managing your network traffic to ensure no inbound or outbound harmful traffic could damage your PC. It’s highly customizable and lets you manually create allow/block lists and even manage different ports.

Windows Firewall is extremely sensitive to incorrect changes since allowing malicious connections can lead to data theft and even complete control over your device. Furthermore, blocking important connections or ports can make apps unusable or slow down performance.

Below are some examples of possible incorrect firewall configurations that could be dangerous for your PC:

  • Blocking ports 43, 53, and 443 can cut off your connection to the web and services that depend on HTTP/HTTPS for updates.
  • Accidentally allowing all incoming traffic on a public network can make your PC extremely vulnerable to outside attacks.
  • Allowing port 3389 for free inbound traffic can allow others to gain remote access to your PC.

Interestingly, many of these edits are automatically made by malicious apps, so be careful which apps you allow to configure the firewall rules.

Recommended Recovery Steps

Other than manually removing the rules you added, a simple solution is to reset the Firewall to the default state. Windows Firewall has an option to reset all the changes made by the users and reset to a clean state.

Search for windows firewall in Windows search to open Windows Firewall. Here click on Restore defaults in the left panel and then click on Restore defaults again on the next page to reset it.

Group Policy

Group Policy is powerful to manage both the local computer and computers on a shared network. It lets you set up policies that could control many critical functions of Windows, including Windows Firewall, password policies, application installation, user rights, etc.

If you open the All Settings section in it, you’ll find many options that you’ll be tempted to enable/disable. If incorrectly applied, they can compromise security and prevent access to Windows functions.

Recommended Recovery Steps

Thankfully, recovering from incorrect configurations in Group Policy is rather easy, and in most cases, you won’t have to reset everything. In Group Policy, move to the below location:

Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > All Settings

Here in the right panel, click on the State column and it will list all the settings with the modified ones at the top. Just change them back to Not configured to apply the default behavior.

Now do the same in the All Settings for User Configuration as well.

If you have made too many changes and want to reset everything in one go, then you can use a Command Prompt command instead. Search for command prompt in Windows Search and then right-click on Command Prompt and select Run as administrator.

Here enter the two commands below one after the other:

RD /S /Q “%WinDir%\System32\GroupPolicy

RD /S /Q “%WinDir%\System32\GroupPolicyUsers

Make sure you press Enter after each command. There won’t be any confirmation of a successful command due to the /Q (Quiet Mode) in it, but the Group Policy will be reset to default.

Hosts File

Hosts file predates the DNS system that we use today to map IP addresses to hostnames. However, it is still used for different purposes to locally resolve DNS, such as blocking websites or ads. Most importantly, it takes precedence over the Windows DNS lookup process, so it can negatively impact your connection if configured incorrectly.

Although the Hosts file isn’t something regular users bother with, many online tutorials recommend editing it for different purposes. Not to mention, malware attacks can edit it to redirect you to a phishing website.

If you ever need to edit it, make sure you follow instructions exactly and know what you are adding to it. I will also recommend you use a third-party host manager app instead of manually editing it. A tool like Hosts File Editor can make the process easier and prevent human error.

Recommended Recovery Steps

Since the Hosts file doesn’t change from PC to PC, you can replace the incorrectly configured Hosts file with a new one copied from anywhere. Here’s a tutorial from Microsoft to reset the Hosts file in Windows. There is a sample Hosts file available for you to create a new one and replace the old one.

Final Words 🔧🤔

Any incorrect tweaks to the above features can easily be fixed by simply creating a restore point before going on the spree. Furthermore, I’ll recommend you make such risky changes in a virtual machine first, that will prevent your PC from any negative impact.

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  • Karrar Haider
    For over 9 years, Karrar has been writing about everything Windows and Google with a strict focus on improving security and finding ways to get more out of our devices.
  • Narendra Mohan Mittal

    Narendra Mohan Mittal is a versatile and experienced digital branding strategist and content editor with over 12 years of experience. He is a Gold Medalist in M-Tech and B-Tech in Computer Science & Engineering.


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