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Post  Admin on Tue Jul 21, 2009 3:32 pm

According to wikipedia

-The Windows Registry is a database that stores settings and options for Microsoft Windows operating systems. It contains information and settings for hardware, operating system software, most non-operating system software, and per-user settings. The registry also provides a window into the operation of the kernel, exposing runtime information such as performance counters and currently active hardware.

When first introduced with Windows 3.1, the Windows registry's purpose was to tidy up the profusion of per-program INI files that had previously been used to store configuration settings for Windows programs.[1]

Keys and values
The registry contains two basic elements: keys and values.

Registry Keys are similar to folders - in addition to values, each key can contain subkeys, which may contain further subkeys, and so on. Keys are referenced with a syntax similar to Windows' path names, using backslashes to indicate levels of hierarchy. E.g. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows refers to the subkey "Windows" of the subkey "Microsoft" of the subkey "Software" of the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE key.

Registry Values are name/data pairs stored within keys. Values are referenced separately from keys. Value names can contain backslashes but doing so makes them difficult to distinguish from their key paths. The Windows API functions that query and manipulate registry values take value names separately from the key path and/or handle that identifies the parent key.

The terminology is somewhat misleading, as the values are similar to an associative array, where standard terminology would refer to the name part of the value as a "key". The terms are a holdout from the 16-bit registry in Windows 3, in which keys could not contain arbitrary name/data pairs, but rather contained only one unnamed value (which had to be a string). In this sense, the entire registry was like an associative array where the keys (in both the registry sense and dictionary sense) formed a hierarchy, and the values were all strings. When the 32-bit registry was created, so was the additional capability of creating multiple named values per key, and the meanings of the names were somewhat distorted.[2]

The Registry is split into a number of logical sections, or "hives"[3] (the reason the word hive was used is an in-joke).[4] Hives are generally named by their Windows API definitions, which all begin "HKEY". They are abbreviated to a three- or four-letter short name starting with "HK" (e.g. HKCU and HKLM).

The HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE (local machine-specific configuration data) and HKEY_CURRENT_USER (user-specific configuration data) nodes have a similar structure to each other; user applications typically look up their settings by first checking for them in "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Vendor's name\Application's name\Version\Setting name", and if the setting is not found look instead in the same location under the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE key. However the converse may apply for administrator-enforced policy settings where HKLM may take precedence over HKCU. The Windows Logo Program has specific requirements for where different types of user data may be stored, and that the concept of least privilege be followed so that administrator-level access is not required to use an application.

Abbreviated HKCR, HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT stores information about registered applications, such as file associations and OLE Object Class IDs, tying them to the applications used to handle these items. On Windows 2000 and above, HKCR is a compilation of user-based HKCU\Software\Classes and machine-based HKLM\Software\Classes. If a given value exists in both of the subkeys above, the one in HKCU\Software\Classes takes precedence.[6] The design allows for either machine- or user-specific registration of COM objects. The user-specific classes hive, unlike the HKCU hive, does not form part of a roaming user profile.

Abbreviated HKCU, HKEY_CURRENT_USER stores settings that are specific to the currently logged-in user.[7] The HKCU key is a link to the subkey of HKEY_USERS that corresponds to the user; the same information is reflected in both locations. On Windows-NT based systems, each user's settings are stored in their own files called NTUSER.DAT and USRCLASS.DAT inside their own Documents and Settings subfolder (or their own Users subfolder in Windows Vista). Settings in this hive follow users with a roaming profile from machine to machine.

Abbreviated HKLM, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE stores settings that are specific to the local computer.[8] On NT-based versions of Windows, HKLM contains four subkeys, SAM, SECURITY, SOFTWARE and SYSTEM, that are found within their respective files located in the %SystemRoot%\System32\config folder. A fifth subkey, HARDWARE, is volatile and is created dynamically, and as such is not stored in a file. Information about system hardware drivers and services are located under the SYSTEM subkey, while the SOFTWARE subkey contains software and Windows settings.

Abbreviated HKU, HKEY_USERS contains subkeys corresponding to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER keys for each user profile actively loaded on the machine, though user hives are usually only loaded for currently logged-in users.

Abbreviated HKCC, HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG contains information gathered at runtime; information stored in this key is not permanently stored on disk, but rather regenerated at the boot time. It is a link to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Hardware Profiles\Current.

This key provides runtime information into performance data provided by either the NT kernel itself or other programs that provide performance data. This key is not displayed in the Registry Editor, but it is visible through the registry functions in the Windows API.

This key is used only on Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows Me.[9] It contains information about hardware devices, including Plug and Play and network performance statistics. The information in this hive is also not stored on the hard drive. The Plug and Play information is gathered and configured at startup and is stored in memory.[10]

Symbolic Links
In Windows NT based systems Symbolic Links between registry keys are supported through REG_LINK value type. Registry links work similarly to file shortcuts or filesystem Symbolic links in that they can span across different hives, but only those visible in Native API namespace, that is \Registry\Machine and \Registry\User. Other hives like HKEY_DYN_DATA are only virtual objects in Win32 API and thus not linkable. Links are used in Windows rather scarcely, only by CurrentControlSet and Hardware Profiles\Current.[11]

[silent killer]


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