Working With the Registry

By: Stephen Bucaro

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Working With the Registry

By Stephen Bucaro

The Registry is the central database for everything about
your computer. It stores configuration information about
the operating system, hardware, software, and types of
files on the computer.

The registry database consists of "keys" and "values".
A key is a "place" to store a value. A key may store many
values, or it may have subkeys, each which store values.
The Windows 2000 registry has five top level keys as
listed below.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINEHardware configurations
HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIGOperating system settings
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTFiles types and software objects
HKEY_USERSAll users configurations
HKEY_CURRENT_USERCurrently logged in user

The Registry is normally modified through Administrative
or Control Panel utilities, but it is possible to edit the
Registry directly. Making an incorrect modification to the
Registry can cause your computer to fail to start, so it's
wise to backup the Registry before making any changes.

To backup the registry, you can export it to an ASCII file
with the .reg extension. You can export the Whole Registry
or just a branch of the Registry.

First select or create a
folder where you would like to save the exported registry.
To export the Registry, open the Registry Editor program by
selecting Start | Run and typing regedit in the Run dialog

In the Registry Editor programs "Registry" menu, select
"Export Registry File..." In The "Export Registry File"
dialog box, navigate to the folder where you would like to
save the exported registry. Then enter a name for the
exported registry file (for example reg_date). Make sure
the "Save as type:" drop down list has "Registration Files"
selected. This will automatically add the .reg extension
to the file. In the "Export Range" section, set the "All"
radio button. Then click on the "Save" button.

If you export the entire registry, the .reg file will be
quite large, between 20MB and 30MB. You might want to
export just a specific branch of the registry. To export
a branch, highlight the branch in the left pane of the
Registry before selecting "Export Registry File..." in the
Registry Editor programs "Registry" menu. In the "Export
Range" section, make sure the "Selected branch" radio
button is set.

One reason to export a Registry file is to be able use a
text editor to search it. The Registry Editor prgram has
a "Find..." function in the "Edit menu, but it's more
difficult to use.

- Don't double-click the file to open it in a text editor,
as the default action for a file with the .reg extension
is to merge it back into the Registry.

- Before you edit the registry file, make a backup copy.

Right-click on the file and select "Open with..." in the
popup menu, or drag and drop the file to Notepad or
Wordpad. Then use the capabilities of the text editor to
search and edit the exported registry branch.

After you have completed editing the file, you can import
it back into the Registry by selecting "Import Registry
File" in the Registry Editor program's "Registry" menu,
or by double-clicking on the file name.

The Registry is normally modified through Administrative
or Control Panel utilitiesArticle Submission, but by using the method
described in this article it is possible to safely edit
the Registry directly.

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