Playing with Windows Registry – Part 1

Windows registry is one of the most important parts of Microsoft Windows Operating System. It contains information and settings for the Windows itself. It is just like the heart of Windows, so without it, Windows won’t be properly functional. If you damaged the registry badly, your Windows will also be damaged and in that case the only thing you can do is to re-install the Windows.
In this series-article, you will try to learn something about Windows Registry and then use it to configure your Windows. But, first, let’s try to get to know a bit about Windows Registry.

Please note that almost everything in these articles will be described using Windows XP Registry.

A Little Basic about Windows Registry

There are several ways to open, view, and edit Windows Registry. The most common way to do those things is by using Registry Editor. To do so, go to start menu – run. Once the run window is opened, type regedit; then the Registry Editor window will appear. You can also access it from the Windows folder. The name of the file is regedit.exe.

As I said before, there are also some other ways to edit Windows Registry, but we won’t talk much about it because Registry Editor is the easiest way to do so, especially for beginners. Those ways will only be briefly described here. The first one is by using command prompt. You will have to use reg.exe as the main command plus some other queries related to it. Another way to do it is by using the notepad. You should know that notepad is the most powerful program in Windows. You can do many things including editing your registry with only that simple program.

Ok, now back to the Registry Editor. If you open the Registry Editor window, you’ll see that it is separated into two parts. These parts are functioning almost as the same as Windows Explorer. The left part is the path part. You can navigate to any area you like from here. On the other hand, the right part is where you can find your registry keys. You can also edit them from here.

Windows Registry is divided into five main parts, plus one main hidden part. (We won’t discuss about that hidden part now.) Those five parts can be seen and viewed from the left window. They describe different things and here is some brief information about them:

This part contains information about registered programs, file associations, and other basic Windows information. We’ll call it “HKCR” from now.

This part contains specific information about logged-in user. We’ll call it “HKCU” from now.

This part contains general information about hardware and software’s settings for all users. We’ll call it “HKLM” from now.

This part contains specific information about users setting (like desktop) for every user in that computer. This part is the subpart of the HKCU. We’ll call it “HKU” from now.

This part contains hardware configurations and other information gathered at runtime. We’ll call it “HKCC” from now.

Well, that concludes the basic of Windows Registry. One important thing you should remember is that you must be extra careful when you want to make changes to it, and it’s also suggested that you make a backup of them first. In the next article, we’ll discuss about how to make a backup of Windows Registry and how to make your Windows Registry secure.

Something confused you? Feel free to contact me.

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