The Registry is a database containing all the settings for Windows XP, as well as the applications installed on your system. All your file types are stored in the Registry, as well as all the network, hardware, and software settings for Windows XP and all the particular configuration options for most of the software you've installed.
Many advanced settings in Windows XP can only be changed by manipulating data in the Registry. The solutions in this chapter detail some of the more useful and frequently needed Registry tweaks.
Although the Registry is stored in multiple files on your hard disk, it is represented by a single logical hierarchical structure, similar to the folders on your hard disk. The Registry Editor (Regedit.exe) is included with Windows XP to enable you to view and manually edit the contents of the Registry.
When you open the Registry Editor, you'll see a window divided into two panes: the left side shows a tree with keys (represented as folders), and the right side shows the contents (values) stored in the currently selected key.
Editing the Registry generally involves navigating down through branches to a particular key and then modifying an existing value or creating a new key or value. You can modify the contents of any value by double-clicking it.
Although most Registry settings are entirely benign, you can irrevocably disable certain components of Windows XP—or even prevent Windows from starting—if ...