What is the Windows Registry?
The Windows Registry, usually referred to as "the registry," is a collection of databases of configuration settings in Microsoft Windows operating systems.
The Windows Registry is sometimes incorrectly spelled as the "registery" or the "regestry."
What is the Windows Registry Used For?
The Windows Registry is used to store much of the information and settings for software programs, hardware devices, user preferences, operating system configurations, and much more.
In many ways, the registry can be thought of as a kind of DNA for the Windows operating system.
How To Access the Windows Registry
The Windows Registry is accessed and configured using the Registry Editor program, a free registry editing utility included with every version of Microsoft Windows.
Registry Editor is the face of the registry, and is the way to view and make changes to the registry, but it's not the registry itself. Technically, the registry is the collective name for various database files located within the Windows installation directory.
How To Use the Windows Registry
The registry contains registry values, located within registry keys, all within one of several registry hives. Making changes to these values and keys using Registry Editor will change the configuration that a particular value controls.
Here a few examples where making changes to registry values alters a program in some way:
The registry is constantly being referenced by Windows and other programs. When you make changes to nearly any setting, changes are also made to the appropriate areas in the registry.
Basic Microsoft Registry Editor Functions
Even though the registry contains thousands of values, there are only a few things you need to know before you're able to make nearly any registry change.
Windows Vista Registry Editor Basics:
- How To Backup the Entire Registry in Windows Vista
- How To Backup Registry Keys in Windows Vista
- How To Delete Registry Keys in Windows Vista
- How To Restore Registry Keys in Windows Vista
Windows XP Registry Editor Basics:
- How To Backup the Entire Registry in Windows XP
- How To Backup Registry Keys in Windows XP
- How To Delete Registry Keys in Windows XP
- How To Restore Registry Keys in Windows XP
Windows Registry Availability
The Windows Registry and the Microsoft Registry Editor program are available in nearly every Microsoft Windows version including Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows 98, Windows 95, and more.
Note: Even though the registry is available in almost every Windows version, some very small differences do exist between them.
The Windows Registry has replaced autoexec.bat, config.sys, and nearly all of the INI files that contained configuration information in MS-DOS and in very early versions of Windows.