The Windows Registry Explained and Defined…
What is The Windows Registry?
The Windows registry is a central hierarchal database repository that stores settings and configuration information for your Windows operating system. All information related to hardware, the operating system, applications, and user preferences is stored in the registry. When you make any changes to your system, such as modifying system settings from Control Panel, changing file associations, installing new programs, or changing system policies, data is added, removed, or modified in the registry.
The registry comprises two basic elements: Keys and Values.
Keys are like the folders you see in Windows Explorer and they may contain additional subkeys and sub-subkeys within them. Each key contains zero or more values and each value comprises a single data. This value data can be of many different types depending on the type of information you want to add.
You can view the registry tree by running the ‘regedit’ command. When you open the registry, you will see that it is divided into five logical sections, known as hives— HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG, HKEY_USERS, HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT, and HKEY_CURRENT_USER.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE or HKLM stores all information related to system hardware drivers, services, software, and windows settings.
HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG is a mirror of HKLM and is generated for the current user at runtime. This key includes software and hardware information for the current user.
HKEY_USERS or HKU stores configuration information for all users configured on your system.
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT or HKCR comprises information related to applications registered on your system, file associations, and the OLE Class IDs of the applications that are used to manage these entities.
HKEY_CURRENT_USER or HKCU contains information related to the user currently logged on to the system. This key is basically linked to the HKU subkey that comprises information related to the current user. The name of the HKU subkey that comprises the current user information is similar to S-x-x-xxxxxxxxxxx-xxxxxxxxxx-xxx.
What are the Causes of Registry Problems?
Registry problems occur due to the accumulation of a large number of unwanted, obsolete, and incorrect data within it. Some of the most common causes of unwanted junk in the registry are:
- Frequent program install and uninstall
- Unsolicited mails with malicious attachments
- Frequent Internet browsing that not only adds loads of entries in the registry but also increases junk files on the PC
- Faulty applications and utilities
- Incorrect program install and uninstall
- System crashes
- Too many programs on the system
These and many other issues may add up to the debris in the registry causing it to grow at an uncontrollable rate. A large registry can easily get corrupted and fragmented resulting in poor PC performance and frequent system errors, freezes, and crashes.
Repair Registry Errors
If your system is suddenly generating a large number of errors, such as ActiveX errors, driver error, or dll errors, then most likely there is a problem in the registry. In such a situation, to fix PC problems and boost performance, it is important for you to first ensure that the registry is free of errors and junk information.
It is not very easy or safe to perform registry cleanup using the Registry Editor. To counter this problem, a large number of registry cleaner tools are available in the market today that can make it really simple for you to perform registry cleanup. These tools are usually GUI-based and registry mwindows registryaintenance and cleanup tasks, such as scan, clean, backup, and defrag can be done easily with just a few clicks of your mouse.
Using your registry cleaner tool, you must regularly scan and remove unwanted information and errors from the registry. You must use the defrag tool to remove empty spaces from the registry and make registry files more contiguous. You must also remember to make regular registry backups to ensure that in case something goes wrong, you can easily restore the registry from the backup.