Registry Key

The Windows registry database consists of six root registry keys. Each root key contains a hierarchy of associated sub keys and values. The values reflect name and data pairs that provide system settings and information for Windows programs and functions. The registry is designed to address several system segregation and control issues. When working correctly, the registry provides a reasonable solution to complex program management concerns. When registry keys get cross-wired and the data values become mismatched or contaminated, the result can be a computing disaster.

Registry cleaners are designed to lessen the effect of registry foul-ups. Sometimes they help; sometimes they fail. At times, hand tweaking becomes the only method of correcting a corrupted, crash prone Windows registry.

Purpose of the Windows Registry.

The segregation goals of the registry is defined in the names of the six root keys (Fig. 1):
1. HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT
2. HKEY_CURRENT_USER
3. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
4. HKEY_USERS
5. HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG
6. HKEY_DYN_DATA
As the naming method implies, the registry keys create a division between machine settings and user settings. A further division relates to multiple system users. Here is a more exact method of breakdown:

· Keys 2 and 3 establish a separation between the specifics of local machine and the personal choices of a current user. This permits details such as network and system printer configurations to be isolated from the likes of user prefferred color schemes and font sizes.
· Keys 2 and 4 mark out a distinction beween concurrent users and specific programs associated with ongoing or perferred tasks. Amid other active differences, the seperation of these two keys permit individual users to establish unique desktop arrangements.
· Key 5 deals with current video drivers, software specifics, attached printers, and ongoing system services.
· Keys 1 and 6 address a centralized location for fundemental operating system management and function, shared software components, roaming network support, and registry level Windows security models.

These are very brief explainations of an very in-depth data file. Changes made to Windows registry keys can be far reaching and perhaps more damaging than corrective. Sometimes making changes is unavoidable.

Problems Correctable Through Registry Editing and Cleaning.

System error corrections are the primary purpose for registry editing and cleaning. A corrupted registry can result in erratic program behavior, system lockdowns, and failed bootups. Increased speed through custom computer tweaking inspires additional registry edits. Here is a detailed list of reasons for editing registry keys:

· Blue Screen of Death.
· Computer Freezing.
· DLL and Shell Errors.
· Hanging Programs.
· Hardware Malfunctions.
· Runtime Errors.
· Slow System Performance.
· System32 Errors.
· System Crashes.
· Windows Error Reports.

Registry cleaners fail to handle all of these issues. The very nature of a corrupted registry may even limit or prohibit access to a registry cleaner. Sometimes you only get one shot. Perhaps Windows fails to boot, refusing to come up even in safe mode. After several tries, you get a successful operating screen but it is clear that the system is unstable. You get one chance to correct the registry. Hand editing is the most absolute game plan.

Regedit: Designed for Manual Registry Key Editing.

During a recent install of a Java update, a customer’s system crashed. He had no backups, including no registry backup. After multiple boot efforts, the system came up. Using the Microsoft Regedit program, we hand removed every Java refference within the registry. The process consumed much time, but the end result proved to be successful.

Regedit is a custom Windows registry editor that is accessed trough the following steps (Fig. 2):

1. Start.
2. Run.
3. REGEDIT.

Once the registry is opened into the editor, changing a key is a matter of double-clicking the desired item. Front end configuration utilities (registry cleaners) make this task easer and more user friendly, but they lack the deep level flexibility of Regedit.

In order to provide useful instructions, the remainder of this article will focus on several specific registry tweaks. Remember the dangers associated with registry editing. The risk is your own. As a point of necessary knowledge, the registry editor provides no “save” option. Upon program exit, changes are automaticlly injected.

Using Regedit to Make a Registry Backup.

Open Regedit (see above). Under the File menu, select Export (notice also the Import option). Assign a name to the file (Fig. 3). Remember where you store it. You may have reverse the procedure.

Changing the Name Underwhich the Computer is Registered.

When selling a used system, the owner may desire that the included Windows installation not be registered under a particular name. Change it like this:

· In the left frame of Regedit, locate key entered as: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersion.
· In the right frame of the editor, scroll down to the value entry that reads RegisteredOwner. Double left click on that entry (Fig. 4).
· Use the presented value editing box to change the name of the registered user (Fig. 5).

The next example assumes the same methods and procedures as this one. No further screen captures are necessary.

Tweaking Menus to Open Quicker.

Sometimes Windows is slow just because it is. Certain key changes can make simple speed increases.

· Left Frame: Locate HKEY-CURRENT-USERControl PanelDesktop.
· Right Frame: Double left click MenuShowDelay.
· Decrease the value. A zero is acceptable.

For more registry key information and editing ideas, try the following:

· http://support.microsoft.com/kb/835818.

Happy fixing.