The Windows Registry is a hierarchical database that stores low-level settings for the Microsoft Windows operating system and for applications that opt to use the registry.
Windows Registry Root Keys:
The Windows Registry consists of the following Root Keys.
Root Keys contain SubKeys. Subkeys may contain subkeys of their own too and contain at least one value, called as its Default Value.
Windows Registry Hives:
A hive is a logical group of keys, subkeys, and values in the registry that has a set of supporting files loaded into memory when the operating system is started or a user logs in. For Example, HKEY_CURRENT_USER with its Subkey and Value called a hive. When a user log on to Windows, the information from ntuser.dat file loaded into HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive. When user log off, any changes in the registry are saved back to ntuser.dat
Windows Registry Data Type:
The values stored in registry are classified by a data type. A data type represents the specific kind of data that the value can store. There are 5 widely used data type which we will expalin here.
REG_BINARY : The raw binary data are stored in this data type. Most hardware component information is stored as binary data, and can be displayed in an editor in hexadecimal format.
REG_DWORD : This type represents the data by a four byte number and is commonly used for boolean values, such as “0” is disabled and “1” is enabled.
REG_EXPAND_SZ : This type is an expandable data string that is string containing a variable to be replaced when called by an application. For example, for the following value, the string “%SystemRoot%” will replaced by the actual location of the directory containing the Windows NT system files. (This type is only available using an advanced registry editor such as REGEDT32)
REG_MULTI_SZ : This type is a multiple string used to represent values that contain lists or multiple values, each entry is separated by a NULL character. (This type is only available using an advanced registry editor such as REGEDT32)
REG_SZ : This type is a standard string, used to represent human readable text values.
Backing up (Exporting) Windows Registry
You should always backup your registry before you attempt to change, create or remove registry settings. This will give you an option to revert to a know good version if something goes wrong.
You can follow below steps to backup windows registry.
- Press the Windows button and the R button simultaneously to open the Run window.
- Type “regedit” to open the registry editor and press Enter.
- Select the Key which you want to backup, right click and select Export. If you want to backup entire windows registry then select ‘Computer’ at top and then select Export from Menu or Context menu.
- In the dialogue box, enter a name for the backup file , select the location where you want to export registry file and click Save to create and save the backup.
Importing Windows Registry from Registry Editor
- Open Registry Editor, Select File > Import
- Browse to the location where you have saved registry backup, select the file and click on Open.
- You can see the import progress if you have taken the backup of entire registry or complete hives. Else, the action will be quick one and you may not see any progress window at all.
- You will see a dialog box showing success / failure of registry import.
This article is first part of Windows Registry knowledge series. We will publish next articles in coming weeks. All articles can be accessed using below link. Please visit again if you don’t see them at this point of time.
- Windows 10 – Remote administration through PowerShell – Part 1
- Windows Administrator Basics: Managing Services from Command Line
- Windows Administrator Basics: Windows Services
- Windows Administrator Basics: Managing Windows Services from Powershell
- Windows Administrator Basics: Windows Registry
- Basic Knowledge for Windows Desktop Support Engineer
- Windows 10 /11 : Create a virtual drive with SUBST command
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