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Every version of Windows since Windows 95 has used a Registry, which is essentially a database containing the configuration information for the OS, its peripherals, and any installed software. The Registry is among the first things that Windows loads at startup, and it tells the OS everything from how menus and the Desktop should look and feel, to where all the vital files and programs reside, to which hardware is installed on the system.
The Registry actually includes a series of data files stored in different folders in your Windows subdirectory, all according to which OS version you’re using. For instance, in WinXP Home or Professional, the Registry has six files located in the Config folder at C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG. Win98 SE and WinMe have different files in other locations, but in all cases, it’s easier to access the Registry via the Registry Editor.
The Registry Editor, the Regedit.exe program, resides in the Windows subdirectory. But the quickest way to open the Registry Editor is to click Run from the Start menu, type regedit in the field, and press ENTER.
Now that we told you how to open the Registry Editor, we should also warn you that it’s unlike other Windows programs because it saves any changes you make on the fly rather than waiting for you to decide to save your changes. Yes, the Registry Editor will save any changes you make as you make them and apply those changes to the respective files and settings on your system. You cannot negate your edits or deletes simply by bailing out of the program without officially saving anything. This means that any user venturing into the Registry Editor must take special care to track any changes made and protect him or herself by backing up the Registry before tinkering with it.
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Posted on Feb 11, 2008
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