Windows Registry Explained
Windows Registry Explained
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The Windows Registry - What is it?
The Windows Registry is extremely important and below we will outline what the Windows Registry is and how it is structured.
The Windows Registry contains information that Windows continually references during operation, such as profiles for each user, the applications installed on the computer and the types of documents that each can create, property sheet settings for folders and application icons, what hardware exists on the system, and the ports that are being used.
The Registry replaces most of the text-based .ini files that are used in Windows 3.x and MS-DOS configuration files, such as the Autoexec.bat and Config.sys. Although the Registry is common to several Windows operating systems, there are some differences among them. The Registry is basically the control center for Windows operating systems and it stores all of the vital program and system information.
Windows Registry Structure
A registry hive is a group of keys, subkeys, and values in the registry that has a set of supporting files that contain backups of its data. The supporting files for all hives except HKEY_CURRENT_USER are in the %SystemRoot%\System32\Config folder on Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Vista. The supporting files for HKEY_CURRENT_USER are in the %SystemRoot%\Profiles\Username folder. The file name extensions of the files in these folders indicate the type of data that they contain. Also, the lack of an extension may sometimes indicate the type of data that they contain.
Abbreviated HKCR, HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT stores information about registered applications, including associations from file extensions and OLE object class ids to the applications used to handle these items. On Windows 2000 and above, HKCR is a compilation of HKCU\Software\Classes and HKLM\Software\Classes. If a given value exists in both of the subkeys above, the one in HKCU\Software\Classes is used.
Abbreviated HKCU, HKEY_CURRENT_USER stores settings that are specific to the currently logged-in user. The HKCU key is a link to the subkey of HKEY_USERS that corresponds to the user; the same information is reflected in both locations.
Abbreviated HKLM, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE stores settings that are general to all users on the computer. This key is found within the file %SystemRoot%\System32\Config\system on NT-based versions of Windows. Information about system hardware is located under the SYSTEM key.
Abbreviated HKU, HKEY_USERS contains subkeys corresponding to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER keys for each user registered on the machine.
Abbreviated HKCC, HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG contains information gathered at runtime; information stored in this key is not permanently stored on disk, but rather regenerated at boot time.
This key provides runtime information into performance data provided by either the NT kernel itself or other programs that provide performance data. This key is not displayed in the Registry Editor, but it is visible through the registry functions in the Windows API.
You can manually edit the Windows Registry, but we highly recommend that you leave that to the experts because one wrong move can cause big trouble and can even make your PC un-usable. If you want to optimize and clean the Registry, use a program such as RegCure