A registry key is a unique name or value in the Windows Registry. It acts as an identifier to the software, hardware and user settings that are stored within the Windows Registry. The Windows Registry is a database of settings used by Windows operating systems to store hardware, software and user configurations. Registry keys are arranged in a hierarchical structure and are often referred to as a path, where the root keys are followed by several other subkeys containing values and settings.
Registry keys are composed of two parts: the name of the key (which may include backslashes) and the data that describes the values and settings of the key. For example, the registry key”HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run” contains the settings for any programs that are set to run at system startup.
The Windows Registry contains a wealth of critical information about how the system is configured and how it behaves. It is important to keep the details of your registry keys accurate and up-to-date in order to ensure that your computer works as expected. To edit, create, or delete keys and their associated values, you must be logged in as an administrator.
When working with the Windows Registry, it is important to understand the differences between the different types of registry keys. There are three main types of registry keys:
• HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE – This key is used for storing critical system settings. Changes made to this key can cause serious system problems if not done correctly.
• HKEY_USERS – This key contains user settings for the current user. Any changes made will only affect the user currently logged in.
• HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG – This key is used for storing information about the hardware installed on the system.
Due to the complexity of the registry and its importance to the system, it is generally recommended that novice users avoid making changes to the registry keys without assistance from experienced IT personnel.