What is the Windows Registry
The windows registry identifies a directory that stores options and settings for the operating system used by Microsoft Windows 64 and 32-bit versions. It is a fundamental hierarchical database utilized in Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows NT, windows CE and windows 98. The windows registry is used in storing information necessary for configuring the system for users, hardware devices and applications.
The registry holds information that windows references continually in its operations like user profiles, installed applications and the kind of documents each application can create, application icons and folders property sheet settings, ports in use and the kind of hardware existing in the system among others. In various ways, the windows registry can be said to be a form of DNA for the windows OS.
The windows registry is configured and accessed by use of the Microsoft Registry Editor application which is a free utility for registry editing included in all Microsoft Windows versions. All the options available in the registry are normally configurable through the Registry Editor. The registry holds registry values located in the registry keys within the registry hive. If these keys and values are altered using the Registry Editor, the configurations that a given value controls will be changed. Users should therefore be cautious when using the Registry Editor application. Though the registry holds multiple values, users require knowing just some basic things before they can make any changes in the registry. Before making any changes in the registry, always make a backup of the registry. The windows registry is prone to attacks by viruses, Malware and Spyware which can damage and corrupt the entire registry. Bearing this in mind, a registry backup will come in handy in case the registry is corrupted or destroyed.
The registry normally comprises of two files that are hidden inside the windows directory. The files are user.dat. and system.dat; the system information that is user-specific is normally held in the user.dat file while the hardware and computer-specific information is held in the system.dat file. The registry’s hierarchical structure comprises of a main key, hive, keys, subkeys and the registry values. Hives present the top portions of the registry’s hierarchical data tree and every have has specific information. For instance, one registry hive may hold information applying to logged-on users while the other may have information concerning the installed hardware. Depending on the Windows version one uses, the hives are either 5 or 6. Keys on the other hand present an organizational registry unit. They are containers holding either values or subkeys. Subkeys can also have further subkeys. They are like folders as they contain registry values. Registry values hold the actual data stored in the keys or subkeys. Different kinds of values are present in the registry but common ones are strings, DWORD and binary values. Users should always note that modification of the registry can cause serious problems.
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