About the Registry

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Windows 3.1 used a Registration Database to store information about file association and Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) registration. The Windows 95 (or later) Registry extends this concept by storing configuration information for all types of applications as well as computer-specific information.

The Registry is essentially a hierarchical database that can be accessed by application software.

Before You Edit the Registry . . .

You can use the Regedit.exe program to change anything in the Registry, including information that is critical to your system's operation. In other words, if you change the wrong piece of information, Windows may no longer work properly.

Get into the habit of choosing the File ^ Export command in Regedit. This command enables you to save an ASCII version of the Registry or just a specific branch of the Registry. If you find that you messed up something, you can always import the ASCII file to restore the Registry to its previous condition (choose the Registry ^ Import Registry File command). Refer to the Help file for Regedit for details.

You can use the Registry Editor program (Regedit.exe, in the Windows folder) to browse the Registry — and even edit its contents if you know what you're doing. Before beginning your explorations, take a minute to read the sidebar titled "Before You Edit the Registry . . . ". Figure 4-8 shows what the Registry Editor looks like.

Figure 4-8: The Registry Editor lets you browse and make changes to the Registry.

As I mention, the Registry is hierarchical. It consists of keys and values:

♦ HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT

♦ HKEY_CURRENT_USER

♦ HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE

♦ HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG

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