What is the Windows registry? The windows registry is a central hierarchal database repository that comprises configuration information related to all hardware and software installed on your system. Information related to user profiles, preferences, and user-specific settings is also saved in the registry.
The basic structure of the registry comprises five root keys: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT, HKEY-CURRENT_USER, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, HKEY_USERS, and HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG. All configuration information related to current user, operating system, hardware, and software is contained in these five keys.
If you want have a look at the registry, then run the Regedit command from Start - Run to open the Registry Editor window. You will see a Windows Explorer like structure. By default, the left pane of the Registry Editor displays the five root keys. You can expand these root keys to view subkeys. When you select subkeys, their values are displayed in the right pane of the Registry Editor window.
Causes of Registry Problems
Registry problems occur due to the accumulation of a large number of unwanted, outdated, redundant, and invalid information in the registry. Given below are some of the activities that leave behind these entries in the registry.
- Program install and uninstall
- Web browsing activity
- Changes to system configuration
- Malware such as viruses, spyware and Trojans
- Registry holes or vacant spaces left behind when entries are removed from the registry
- Program upgrades and reinstallation
- Improper system shutdown due to system crash, hard boot, or power failure
What happens due to registry problems?
Over time, large deposits of unwanted information in the registry make it a digital dump full of junk data and other trash. This gives rise to frequent system errors and crashes. Some of the common errors that can occur due to registry problems are runtime errors, exe errors, DLL errors, and other general errors.
The most worrying fact about registry problems is that not all registry problems prompt errors messages. The errors and unwanted data accumulate over time, and increase like cancer cells. Most of the time, registry problems spread through your system like slow cancers and suddenly erupt one day when your computer is already into its last stages.
The worst thing about registry problems is that they catch you when you are totally unaware of what is going on. They not only affect the normal functioning of your PC but also make you lose a lot of computing time.
Preventing and Fixing Registry Errors
Proper vigilance and regular PC maintenance can help you prevent registry problems from occurring on your computer. Some of the measures that you can take to prevent registry problems are given below:
- Avoid downloading and installing freeware applications and games from suspicious websites.
- Never open attachments of unsolicited emails because they might be infected with malware.
- Always perform program uninstall using the correct procedure.
- Perform regular system maintenance to keep it free of unwanted junk.
- Keep your desk free of dust and other solid particles because if these particles make their way inside your system, they can damage your computer hardware.
How Registry Cleaners Help
Although taking proper preventive measures can keep your PC and the registry free of junk, it might not be enough. Therefore, it is always good to use efficient registry cleaner software to scan the registry for problems and remove them. A reliable registry cleaner will help you scan for problems related to ActiveX/COM components, shared DLLs, malicious entries, and many more. Many advanced registry cleaners come loaded with tools that enable you to perform a number of other tasks such as managing startup programs, Internet Browser Help Objects (BHOs), orphan system files, and other Internet Explorer files. These tools also enable you to defragment the registry to make it compact by removing registry holes or vacant spaces. All these activities together enable you to ensure a healthy registry which, in turn, promises you a superb computing experience.
The registry is the most important component of a Windows operating system because each and every task you perform on your computer has to access the registry to carry out your commands. This makes it very important for you to keep your registry in good working condition. You can prevent registry problems by being a vigilant user and not performing tasks that might cause harm to the system and the registry. You may also use a reliable registry cleaner to regularly scan the registry for errors and remove them before they cause any considerable damage. Remember, a stitch in time saves nine!