February 1, 2020

Microsoft Windows Registry

By Liutilities

The Windows registry is an integral, and fundamental, part of your computer that ensures the smooth running of your operating system, your hardware, any installed applications and your connection to the Internet. Making sure that your Microsoft Windows registry is kept clean, and error-free, becomes critical if you do not want to experience operating system and software seizures or crashes.

However, editing the Windows registry is not a task for the faint hearted! It is complex and requires thorough knowledge of how the registry works. This article explains the complexities of editing the Windows registry and suggests a way to keep your registry clean without getting your hands dirty. Think of it as having your car change a punctured tire itself without the hassle of you taking it into a shop or having to change it yourself!

What is Windows Registry and why do you need it?

The registry is a centralized hierarchical database, used by various Microsoft Windows operating systems (from Windows 3.11 onwards), to store computer configuration information.

This data is necessary for Windows to run your computer, and all the applications and hardware devices installed on it. Windows registry entries include details on:

  • User profiles, settings, options and preferences
  • The path and location of applications installed on the computer
  • Property settings for folders and applications
  • The path and location of hardware devices installed on the system
  • Ports being used
  • System policies
  • File associations

Whenever you make any changes to your preferences or settings, installed software and hardware, these changes are stored in the Windows registry. By saving this information in a central archive the Windows registry reduces processing time (and increases effective PC speed) by helping the processor to locate applications, and hardware devices, quickly and efficiently.

When do Windows Registry Errors Occur?

The latest statistics show that about 94% of computers have corrupt and possibly harmful files. On average, almost every PC will have over 150 errors, due to corrupt or missing registry entries.

If your system is new, you usually won’t notice the need to make any changes to your registry. However, over time, your registry will grow as you add and remove software and hardware to and from your computer. These additions and deletions will cause your Windows registry to become fragmented, corrupted or full of errors.

Common errors include:

  • Missing, orphaned, broken or bad application/Windows paths, shortcuts and links
  • Unwanted browser objects
  • Unused or obsolete Start menu items
  • Missing or corrupt application IDs
  • Corrupt Active X/COM objects
  • Unnecessary entries in the recent files list
  • Residual and unused files and drivers
  • The list is endless

When you remove software from your system, for example, it is highly probable that residuals are still littering your hard drive and your registry. The result? Frequent error messages, slow startups, sluggishness, declining performance, system stalls, severe degradation in operating speed, unstable and frequent application errors or crashes, and, at times, even an inability to start Windows.

Regularly cleaning the registry is an essential task for maintaining the security and performance of a person’s PC. Yet we also understand that most computer users are unfamiliar with the nature, location and operation of the Windows registry, and are unenthusiastic about the prospect of manually editing it. Indeed, Microsoft, these days, generally warns PC owners that if they do edit their registry, they do so at their own risk.