|Mr. Fixit's PC Upgrade and Repair
The Registry is not for the faint hearted. The slightest error can render Windows useless. First and foremost task before least one
of 3 things: 1) back up all data, 2) create a restore point, and/or 3) create a copy of the original registry. Windows XP Home
Edition doesn't have the BackUp utility as part of the OS. You'll need to either install it manually or use a third-party utility. To create
a Restore Point, click Start > Control Panel > Performance & Maintenance > System Restore, and follow the instructions. To
save a copy of the Registry, start the Registry Editor by clicking Start > Run > type regedit, and press enter. Next click File and
choose Export. Type a name for the file like 'regbackup'. For Export range, select All. This will save a copy of the entire Registry
in the file you specified.
I will now explain the different parts of the registry and the workings of each part. There are many times that you have changed a
setting in the registry with out realizing it. This is a more direct approach. The registry can hold as many as 10,000 or more
settings that are divided into 5 different sections known as hives. Each hive has a specific purpose. If you find there are duplicate
keys in different hives, do not worry, they are called symbolic links. If a key setting in one hive is changed then the duplicate key in
another hive will also change. This saves time from having to retype the same key for each hive.
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT: Contains file types, filename extensions, OLE objects, CLASS definitions. This also instructs
Windows how to handle printing, opening files, and interface options like context menus and double clicking.
HKEY_CURRENT_USER: Contains information of the user currently logged on; Desktop settings, appearances, network
connections, printers, personal preferences, security rights, etc.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE: Contains information on the computer itself and the Operating System, including hardware setup,
installed software, security, startup, drivers, services, etc.
HKEY_USERS: Contains a profile for each user.
HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG: Contains current hardware configurations.
Each of these hives are at the top of the hierarchy and contain thousands of keys, which can contain sub-keys, and so on. The
hives are organized in a folder-like fashion, like that of a hard drive, to ease navigation. Here are 5 data type values for a key.
REG_DWORD: Data represented by numbers
REG_SZ: Contains plain text and numbers and one of the most common data types
REG_MULTI_SZ: contains several strings of plain text and numbers. (edit only)
REG_EXPAND_SZ: Contains data to point Windows to a file's location.
REG_BINARY: Contains binary data (0's and 1's). (No creating or editing)
The Registry editor is relatively easy to use but doesn't have much functionality other than basic editing. You can use the Registry
editor to add, change, and delete keys. When you look at all the keys, sub-keys, settings, etc, it can seem tedious, but don't fret, it
is easier than you might think. You can use your mouse to double click your way to the key you are looking for but that is a lot of
clicking. A simpler way would be to use the arrow keys on the keyboard. Using the 'right' arrow key will open a key to reveal
sub-keys, the 'left' arrow key will close the key and move up to the next key in the hierarchy. To move to the next key with a specific
letter, press and hold the letter on the keyboard. The easiest way to find a key is to search using the editor's search function by
pressing Ctrl+F. To change the key's value, double-click the value, in the right pane, next to the key.
It can be hard to tell what key you are editing, but look to the bottom left-hand corner to see the key being edited. If it doesn't show
the key click 'View', then Status. To add a new key right click the parent key, then New, then Key. Some changes take effect
immediately and others require a restart. There is no 'SAVE' or 'UNDO' commands. Changes are automatically saved on the fly,
so use caution.