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What Is the Registry

The registry is one of the core elements of the Microsoft Windows operating system. It's a massive database containing important information about the configuration of your computer and all of the programs installed on it. It contains everything from desktop background settings to program, driver and operating system settings to file associations and much more. The registry is also where you can make many tweaks to customize your computer and improve its performance. You can access the Windows registry by running the program "regedit." To find the Registry Editor, type "regedit" into the run command or the start menu search box in Windows 7.

You should avoid playing around with the registry unless you know exactly what you are doing or you are following trusted instructions for a specific purpose. Windows and most of your programs rely on the registry for storing settings and much more. Deleting or modifying important keys from the registry can and will stop certain programs or Windows components from working correctly. You could even find yourself with an unworkable computer, although the registry is regularly backed up automatically so most problems which develop with the registry are easily solvable.

The Windows registry contains six categories which you'll see as soon as you open the Registry Editor. In Windows 7, these are as follows:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT - This contains all data regarding file associations and file extensions registered on your computer.
HKEY_CURRENT_USER - This contains settings specific to the user account which you're currently logged in on.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE - This category contains universal settings and information about your hardware, programs and the operating system itself.
HKEY_USERS - This contains settings specific to each user account on the computer.
HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG - This is where various settings related to screen resolution, printers and fonts are stored.

Any modification which you make to the system registry is saved immediately, although changes will only appear when you log off or restart the computer.

After a while, the registry will get clogged full of data such as information and preferences saved by applications which are no longer installed. One element of PC optimization is cleaning the registry to improve performance and reliability. This is precisely what registry cleaning software is designed for.


Microsoft Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries. Speed improvements vary based on your system configuration. ErrorTeck is not endorsed or affiliated with either Microsoft or the third party applications it supports.