I've had to reset photoshop preferences 2 times in the past month to fix a photoshop issue. The second time wasn't so bad because I had reset a few weeks ago. The first time was bad because I had more than 2 years of preference updates that I lost because I had to reset the preferences.
Is there some way to protect my preference file so I don't lose 2 years of update?
Sad that the only way to fix a photoshop issue is to reset preferences and lose all your preference updates that you made over the past 2 years.
You can fix, then duplicate them, then simply replace them when things go wonky. I have no idea why for decades, we've had issues with preferences (and not just Photoshop!) but that's such a common fix that is used over and over again.
This action only affects the items found in the preferences dialog box. Numerous program settings are stored in the Adobe Photoshop Preferences file, including general display options, file-saving options, performance options, cursor options, transparency options, type options, and options for plug‑ins and scratch disks. Brushes (and lots of other setting) are not affected by deleting preferences. You may wish to make a screen capture of the settings in the Preferences dialog to reset them prior to deleting of this file.
Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management" (pluralsight.com)