Optimizing the Windows Registry (with CD-ROM)

Optimizing the Windows Registry (with CD-ROM)

by Kathy Ivens, Kathy Avens

Paperback(BK&CD ROM)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780764531590
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 02/13/1998
Series: Windows Series
Edition description: BK&CD ROM
Pages: 355
Product dimensions: 7.12(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.08(d)

About the Author

About the Author Kathy Ivens is a computer consultant specializing in the planning and installation of large networks. In addition to teaching a variety of computer courses, she has written and contributed to over two dozen books including Quicken® Bible and Dummies 101®: Outlook 97 For Windows®.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Understanding the Registry

WITH THE INTRODUCTION OF WINDOWS 95, Microsoft created a single repository for system and application information called the registry. This cryptic and convoluted database is involved in every part of the operation of the Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows NT 4 OSs. A good understanding of what the registry is, what it does, and how to manipulate it, can give users of either operating system (OS) a leg up in the management and control of their computing environments.

An Overview of the Registry

The registry contains information about your computer, computer users, the peripherals attached to the computer, and the system that makes your computer run. This database is essential to running your system. It's important to understand what the registry is, and how it works. This knowledge enables you to maintain your system, and also modify the registry safely if the need arises.

History of the Registry

The first successful and widely used version of the Windows OS, Microsoft Windows 3.1, used three different types of files to inform the OS of the computer's hardware and installed application software.

The first two types were .INI files. These initialization files were broken down into the system initialization files and private initialization files. In its normal installation pattern, Windows 3.1x used six .INI files to load and control the Windows environment (CONTROL.INI, PROGMAN.INI, PROTOCOL.INI, SYSTEM.INI, WIN.INI, and WINFILE.INI). WIN.INI and SYSTEM.INI were the primary system initialization files used by Windows 3.1x. WINI.INI was the primary location for information pertaining to the software configuration ofthe OS and specific system-wide information, added by application software. With every newly installed application making changes to WIN.INI (and often operating as if it was the only application installed), this INI file got very large, very fast. This often caused problems for users when the file reached its size limit of 64K. The OS didn't bother to inform the user that the limit had been reached, and the file grew beyond 64K. It then ignored any entry beyond that 64K boundary. When applications added entries to the top sections in the WIN.INI file, information at the bottom of the file got pushed beyond the initialization boundary, and was not implemented. This could cause problems for an application expecting these (now lost) entries to be initialized. In an attempt to prevent this, Microsoft recommended that application developers store application-specific information in private INI files that pertained only to their application. While this helped, it didn't stop application developers from continuing to place large amounts of information in the WIN.INI file.

SYSTEM.INI served as the primary repository for system information pertaining to the computer's hardware. While WIN.INI contained the information for the system's behavior, SYSTEM.INI pointed the OS at hardware and software components (device drivers, shells, etc.). Both WIN.INI and SYSTEM.INI still exist in Windows 95 and 98 and continue to play a role in the function of that OS.

PROGMAN.INI contained the initialization settings for the Windows Program Manager, while WINFILE.INI contained the settings for the Windows File Manager. The absence of these files didn't prevent Windows from running (as it did with SYSTEM.INI or WIN.INI), but you'd get the default configuration for these applications, rather than any customizations you may have performed.

PROTOCOL.INI, added in the Windows for Workgroups version of Windows 3.1x, was the location for initialization information for Windows networking.

Private initialization files were the .INI files added to the Windows directory by third-party applications installed on the system. These files contained specific information about the state of the application, including such items as screen position and the most recently used file list.

The last file that Windows 3.1 used for system configuration was REG.DAT. This was the Windows 3.x Registration Database and is the direct predecessor of the Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows NT 4 registries. This database, which held nested structures off of a single HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT root, contained the information needed to maintain file-extension associations and OLE drag and drop support. Unlike the .INI files, which were simple ASCII text files (editable in any word processor or text editor), the REG.DAT file was binary in format and came with its own editing application, the Registration Information Editor (REGEDIT.EXE). This application enabled users to edit and search the Registration Database. The Windows 3.x REG.DAT, however, didn't have anywhere near the complexity found in the Windows 95, Windows 98 or Windows NT 4 registries.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1: Understanding the Registry.

Chapter 2: Using the Registry Editors.

Chapter 3: Customizing With and Without the Registry.

Chapter 4: Customizing Desktops.

Chapter 5: The Control Panel and the Registry.

Chapter 6: Using Microsoft PowerToys.

Chapter 7: File Associations.

Chapter 8: Understanding Network Settings.

Chapter 9: Securing the Registry.

Chapter 10: Solving Common Problems.

Chapter 11: Remote Administration.

Chapter 12: Using the Policy Editors.




Chapter 16: HKEY_USERS.


Appendix A: About the CD-ROM.


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