What Is Windows Registry? [MiniTool Wiki]

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The Windows Registry (usually just called the registry) is a collection of databases that are configured in the Microsoft Windows operating systems. For example, when you install a program, a new subkey that contains settings such as program location, version, and how to start the program are all added to the Windows registry.

Registry Editor

Introduction to Windows Registry

Whenever a user installs a program, hardware or device driver for a newly connected hardware in a Windows-based computer system, these initial configuration settings are stored as keys and values in a system-defined central hierarchical database repository named Windows Registry.

In the Windows Registry, changes made to these configurations will be updated in the registry while the software or hardware is being used. In addition, changes made to Control Panel settings, file associations, Windows components, etc. during the use of the computer will be updated in the registry too.

The software and system components retrieve the latest configuration from the registry as they run to continue operations based on the current user's settings. The registry also acts as an index into the kernel operations, showing the runtime information of the system.

The registry is a key factor in computer stability, reliability, and performance. Most computer problems are caused by system registry errors. For example, invalid registry entries left by applications that are no longer used or uninstalled by the computer, etc., may cause system performance to be degraded, crashed, paused, etc. in terms of speed, reliability, and so on.

In many ways, you can think the registry as a DNA for the Windows operating system.

Note: Not all Windows applications require the Windows Registry. Some programs store their configuration in an XML file instead of the registry, while other programs are fully portable and store their data in an executable file.

How to Access the Windows Registry

You can use the Registry Editor program to access and configure the Windows Registry, which is a free registry editing utility included in each Microsoft Windows version by default.

The Registry Editor is not a program you downloaded. Instead, you can access it by executing regedit from the Command Prompt or from the Search or Run box in the Start menu.

The Registry Editor is a part of the registry and is the way to view and change the registry, but it is not the registry itself. Technically to say, the registry is the collective name for the various database files located in the Windows installation directory.

Well, if you want to make some changes on the Resgistry, it’s better to back up individual Resgistry keys in advance.

How do the Registry Problems Affect the Computer System?

The Windows Registry is increased due to the accumulation of garbage entries, resulting in fragmentation and corruption due to traces left by programs that are not properly uninstalled, which has some effects on your computer system:

Computer system performance is degraded: The speed of the system will be significantly reduced because each active process/application takes a long time to reference the registry and get/modify its registry entries.

Reduce reliability: Due to the increased size of the registry, active processes/applications may not be able to access their respective registry entries, causing the program to terminate unexpectedly. This causes the user to lose any unsaved data.

Reduce stability: The fragmented, slow registry takes a long time to complete requests sent by active programs and hardware devices, and causes the system to freeze and restart.

System crash: Excessive damage to the registry may even cause the system to fail to boot.

Windows Registry Availability

Almost all versions of Microsoft Windows provide Windows Registry and the Microsoft Registry Editor program, such as Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and others.

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