Windows Registry

What Does Windows Registry Mean?

The Windows registry is a hierarchically structured database that is used to store data related to configuration settings, software and user preferences in a Microsoft Windows operating system (OS). It contains entries and values that control the behavior of certain configurations and user preferences, as well as information for OS components and applications that operate at a low level.


Most Windows applications write entries into the Windows registry during the installation process.

Techopedia Explains Windows Registry

Windows registry features and advantages are as follows:

  • All low-level and third-party OS components and applications, like device drivers and kernels, can access the registry.
  • To profile system performance, it facilitates access to the necessary counters.
  • It stores and reflects user changes to configurations, preferences, policies and applications.
  • Depending on the Windows version, it stores physical registry files in different locations.
  • It contains two elements: keys, which are similar in concept to Windows folders, and values, which are similar to files.
  • Registry files must be edited with the registry editor or another third-party application, as file modifications cannot be directly applied.
  • Although it is possible to physically delete registry values and keys, Microsoft provides the RegClean tool to automate this process.

Windows registry disadvantages are as follows:

  • Transferring per-program user settings between Windows machines is tedious, as the Windows registry is largely dependent on the local machine.
  • Although versions as old as Windows NT use transaction log files based on two levels to protect registry entries, any registry corruption can be resolved by reinstalling the OS.
  • It needs a dedicated uninstaller to remove registry entries for applications based on a .NET framework.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.