Friday, March 13, 2009

Windows Registry

In the very early versions of M$ Windows, pre 3.1, most of the applications installed would have their own configuration file, to setup the hardware required or to initialize its environment. These files used to be known as the initialization file and hence its extension (.ini).

However, as more applications gets installed, each of their ini file gets placed all over different folders, some in windows folder, some in windows/system and some within their own application folder.

To solve such issues, M$ introduced the Windows Registry in Windows 3.1.
The Windows Registry makes it easier to track the configuration of such applications within a single file. Windows configuration are also stored within the registry and applications requiring information about the current Windows system can pull info from the same file.

Fundamentally, the registry is made up of 5 parts.

Stores info about registered applications such as file associations etc

Stores info and settings about the current user

Stores settings that are general which applies to all users

4) HKEY-USERS [ abbr. HKU ]
Stores subkeys which are corresponding to HKCU

Stores info generated during boot, renews info after each reboot [Non permanent]

Though it all sounds logical, having that much info all dumped into a single file, which is a database of records, makes it easier for applications and the operating system to track and use.
However, as the PC multitask more applications nowadays, the amount of read/writes to this database is accessed and controlled by applications and operating system alike. When it grows to be a large database, searching a particular record can take up some time, especially when there are many applications also reading and writing to it.

And due to this registry being one of the most critical component in having a working operating Windows system, any erroneous read/writes or bad clusters on the registry file will result in a "inoperable" windows. Some severe cases will result in not being able to boot into the "Graphical User Interface" aka GUI totally.

To access the registry, it requires a application to access the database in a readable format.
Regedit is a built in application within Windows that allows the user to view and edit this database. Inexperienced users should not edit or delete anything within the registry without finding out in detail the repercussions. Failure to do so had resulted in many complete re-installs.

Though it takes time to learn most of the common parameters within the registry, there are some 3rd party registry cleaners and optimizers that will trim and optimize the registry in a safe and recoverable manner.

A few popular ones such as the 3 listed below have free and paid variants.

Registry Mechanics
Tweaknow Registry Cleaner

These above listed are for optimizing the registry and clearing away junk keys which remained even after applications had been uninstalled.

There are also registry tweakers that will help to enhance and speed up Windows itself by tweaking some operating system related settings within the registry.

A personal favourite of mine is


The above application tweaks the system for performance by adjusting hidden parameters not available to the common user.

A lot of its tweaks are based from manual "regedit" tweaks from here.
Seasoned registry tweakers will manually tweak via regedit. But X-Setup present everything in a easy to understand user interface.

Today is 13th March 2009
Time now is 10:36 hrs

Bill Gates
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