The Windows Registry is a hierarchical database that stores configuration settings and options on Microsoft Windows operating systems. It contains settings for low-level operating system components as well as the applications running on the platform: the kernel, device drivers, services, Sam, user interface and third party applications all make use of the registry. It is used to store information used by Windows and its applications, such as user preferences and hardware configurations. This information can be used to customize the system and application settings, as well as to diagnose problems.
The registry is organized into five different “hives”:
– HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT – stores file associations, OLE resources, DDE communications and other information related to object linking and embedding (OLE).
– HKEY_CURRENT_USER – stores settings pertaining to the currently logged-in user.
– HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE – stores settings that are applied to the local machine.
– HKEY_USERS – stores settings that are specific to each user account in the system.
– HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG – stores configuration settings that are specific to the current hardware profile.
The registry is made up of several different types of data, including keys, values, and data. Keys are the main containers in the registry, and they can contain both values and other subkeys. Values are named data elements that contain information, such as strings, numbers, binary data, and even objects. Data are the actual pieces of information stored in the registry.
The registry can be edited using the registry editor (regedit.exe). This program allows users to view and edit the registry, add new keys and values, and delete existing ones. However, making changes to the registry can be dangerous and should be done with extreme caution. It is also important to remember to create a backup before making any changes to the registry in case something goes wrong.
When changes are made to the registry, the operating system and applications that use it must be restarted in order for the changes to take effect. If there is a problem with the registry and the system does not boot properly, it is possible to start Windows in safe mode and use the registry editor to make repairs. The most recent version of the registry is always stored in the System Volume Information folder on the system drive, and it is possible to restore the registry to an earlier version if necessary.
In summary, the Windows Registry is a powerful and versatile system that is used by Windows and many applications. It is essential for keeping the system and its applications running smoothly, and changes to the registry should only be made with care. Backing up the registry before making changes is always recommended.