Regedit and windows Registry

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Regedit is the application that is used to open Windows Registry. You will often find the process regedit.exe running, via the Processes tab in Windows Task Manager,whenever you open Windows Registry.

What is Windows Registry?

Windows Registry is a database of all settings and options of the Windows operating system, installed on your PC. It also contains various settings and information of all hardwares and softwares installed on your PC and user profiles that exist on the PC. All these settings are stored as keys, subkeys and their values.

While keys and subkeys are arranged as an hierarchy of folders, values are name/data pairs stored within keys and it can either have no type or be one of the following types:

  • String Value
  • Binary Value
  • DWORD (32-bit) Value
  • QWORD (64-bit) Value
  • Multi-String Value
  • Expandable String Value

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and HKEY_CURRENT_USER are nodes in Windows Registry that have similar hierarchical structure. Whenever you install and configure any application on windows, it tries to write all the configuration settings in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. If it cannot write such information to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE (which is usually the case if the logged-in user is not an administrator), it writes the application settings in HKEY_CURRENT_USER instead.

How to edit Windows Registry?

Windows registry is prone to corrpution, if you make incorrect alterations. This may render your PC unstable. Registry modifications should be done only if you are absolutely sure of what you are doing. Even if you are sure of making registry modifications, it is advisable to first backup the registry.There are several options to backup windows registry. By doing system Restore, you can back up the registry and restore it as long as Windows is bootable, in windows XP or earlier, and from the Windows Recovery Environment in Windows Vista or Windows 7.You can also export the entire registry.To export the registry,

  • In windows XP, Click Start >> Run, type regedit and press Enter. In windows vista, Click Start, type regedit and press Enter
  • Windows Registry will open. click File >> Export to backup the registry in any desirable location

You can then manually edit the registry key by finding it through Edit >> Find in windows registry. Alternatively, you can also create a .REG file in the following format and double click it to modify the registry.

[<Hive Name>\<Key Name>\<Subkey Name>]
"Value Name"=<Value type>:<Value data>

To remove a key (and all subkeys, values and data), the .REG file must have a minus sign (“-“) before the hive name. To remove a value (and its data), the .REG file must have a minus sign (“-“) after the equal sign (“=”) of each value to be removed.

The .REG file is often useful to do several registry modifications, at once.

Windows Registry Corruptions:

Find out all causes and symptoms or signs of windows Registry corruption, problems or issues. You can also find out how to determine a good windows registry cleaner software.

Windows Registry Protection:

While windows vista offers more safety and security through User Account Control (UAC), that asks for an administrator passwor, for standard users to run regedit or modify windows registry. For legacy applications that do mot work properly with UAC, it offers registry virtualization, thereby protecting modification of system files and the Registry.

You can even get UAC for Windows XP through smart UAC.

The above is an overview about Windows Registry and Regedit.That is all folks.

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One comment on “Regedit and windows Registry
  1. A good introduction to regedit and the registry.
    However, some warnings are in order. Regedit does not offer some conveniences usually found in a test editor. There is no save function, all changes are immediate. There is no undo function, errors can only be corrected manually or by restoring from a backup. Regedit is a tool and in expert hands can be very useful. But in inexpert hands it can do a great deal of damage in a very short period of time. Be very sure of what you are doing or you may require professional services or a reinstall.

    Larry Miller
    Microsoft MCSA

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