20.1. Introduction to the Registry

When an operating system boots up and while it's running, it needs to access pieces of information that indicate how the machine is configured to enable the operating system to start up and run. Since the introduction of Windows NT, the registry has been the store for such information in Windows operating systems. Previously, startup information was contained in a potentially large number of .ini files. As the number of files increased, performance potentially dropped off. The registry was introduced with a view to solving that problem and allowing a more coherent way to store startup and other configuration information.

The registry is a hierarchical data store. It stores configuration information relating to users, hardware, and applications. The data in the registry is stored in binary files, so it isn't readily accessible using standard text-editing applications.

Microsoft provides two GUI tools, RegEdit.exe and RegEdt32.exe. In the past, there were differences in the behavior of the two tools. In Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 the tools are essentially the same. RegEdt32.exe is a program that runs RegEdit.exe.

To run the Registry Editor, click StartRun; then type RegEdit in the text box. The Registry Editor opens. The appearance may differ a little from that shown in Figure 20-1, depending on any recent use of the Registry Editor. If you ...

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