In evil mode, I can save text in named registers with "ay etc. These registers are lost whenever emacs is restarted. Is there a way to save these registers? Vim seems to do this automatically.

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There are several ways of persisting data in Emacs, such as using desktop.el or savehist. If you have enabled savehist-mode in your init file (like by adding (add-hook 'after-init-hook 'savehist-mode)), it's a matter of defining one extra variable to save:

(setq savehist-additional-variables '(register-alist))

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