The registry is a Windows component and has a structure that is hierarchal. The structure may seem complicated, but it is similar to the directory structure of the hard-disk. The registry is very vital because it holds most of the information concerning running processes as well as Windows elements so that it may run well.

A registry structure is in a tree format where every node found on the tree is known as a key. Every key has a ‘subkey’ as well as ‘values’ which are data entries. There are instances where the key present has enough data that is required by an application. There are other times where an application makes use of the values that are related to the key after opening the key.

Keys and values are contained in a main branch which is known as a hive. Values are divided into three types; Binary, DWORD and String. The usage of these three depends on the context in which they are used. The registry consists of six main branches of which each of them consists of information that is stored inside the registry itself. The first of the branches is the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT. This branch consists of the mappings of file association supporting OLE information, features like drag-and-drop, and shortcuts for Windows and Windows User interface core aspects. HKEY_CURRENT_USER is the second branch and it links to the HKEY_USERS section that is ideal for the user who is currently logged on. It has information such as desktop settings, logon names and also Start Menu settings.

The other branch is the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE which consists of information that is computer specific concerning the type of software, hardware, and including preferences on a specific PC. The information is utilized by everyone who logs to the computer. The HKEY_USERS is the other branch that has individual preferences for each computer user and they are represented by a sub-key, SID, found under the chief branch. HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG is a branch that links to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE section which is ideal for hardware configuration at present. The sixth branch is the HKEY_DYN_DATA which is also able to access the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, specifically the area of the Plug-n-Play feature of Windows. Every value has a value name as well as its associated data if it has any. VgaCompatible and MaxObjectNumber are values that have data under the subkey known as VIDEO. A registry key can go up to 512 levels deep. Users may create levels of up to 32 at a go through one registry known as API call. The registry generally has a hierarchical structure.

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