Microsoft Windows Registry Guide – Everything You Need to Know

The Windows Registry is one of the vital components of Microsoft Windows operating system. Novice computer users find it difficult to repair the Registry when it behaves problematically. Even experienced users find it very delicate to handle. Let us explore the Registry in this article and improve our awareness level.

The Registry is actually a directory that stores various settings and options. It is an integral component of Microsoft Windows 32-bit, 64-bit, and Windows Mobile versions. It contains information about all hardware in your PC, system software, and other application software. Apart from storing information about hardware and software, it also stores information about different users and their preferences. You can now very well imagine the importance of the Registry and the consequences if it gets corrupted. windows 8.1 product key

If you make a change in the Windows Control Panel, say, setting a new screen saver, information gets updated in the Registry. Similarly, if you delete application software from your system, or, re-define system policies, information gets updated in your system. From the Windows Registry, you can derive runtime information and the status of currently active applications.

Earlier, .INI files used to store information about an application. With the increase in the number of applications in a system, the number of these .INI files grew uncontrollably. The main reason behind introduction of the Windows Registry is to avoid dependence on these scattered, uncontrollable .INI files.

The Registry contains two basic kinds of elements – Keys and Values. You can compare Registry Keys to folders that contain several Values. In addition to Values, a Registry Key may contain subkeys. Subkeys may contain more subkeys underneath them. You reference a Key in the Registry like a path in Windows, for example, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/Windows. This refers to the Windows subkey belonging to the Microsoft subkey, which in turn belongs to the Software subkey. Finally, Software is the immediate subkey under the key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.

Now let us come to Registry Values. Registry Values are name/data pairs stored inside the keys. These values are referenced by Windows API (Application Program Interface) functions. The values look like an array of strings. In 32-bit Windows, the Registry started to contain multiple values per key.

 

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