Windows Registry Editor – Regedit.exe

Regedit.exe is a utility program that comes bundled with the Windows operating system. It provides a graphical interface that allows users to access the Windows registry. More commonly known as the Windows Registry Editor, regedit.exe gives users the ability to view settings as well as search for specific entries and even change the values stored within the registry database.

Be Very Careful When Editing the Windows Registry
Most experts don’t recommend that you modify the values in the Windows registry using regedit.exe. Doing so without knowing exactly what you’re doing can damage your system. Because Windows relies on the information stored in the registry to function properly, you could easily cause a major problem. If you do choose to make manual changes, always backup the registry by creating a restore point before going into edit mode. With a good restore point in place, you can usually reverse any changes if you make a mistake. As a second line of defense, have the system restore discs that came with the machine on hand just in case you damage the registry to the point your machine won’t even boot.

Running the Windows Registry Editor
Opening the Windows Registry Editor is easy. Click on the “Start” button followed by the “Run” button. Next, type in “regedit.exe” and click “OK.” This simple procedure displays the registry in the Windows Registry Editor screen allowing you to view the entries or change them.

What’s in the Windows Registry?
At first, the data will look like a foreign language, but some things will start to seem familiar once you have time to explore a little. Most users know more about the applications installed on their PC than anything else. To see this information, click on Computer. Under this area, you’ll see the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE key. Once this level is expanded, the SOFTWARE area will be revealed. A list of individual programs resides under this subkey.

As you read through the program listing, you’ll probably recognize most of the entries. If you continue expanding entries until you reach the lowest level, you’ll arrive at the basic values. This information displays in the right panel of the Windows Registry Editor. In most cases, the actual values won’t mean a thing to you, but they’re very important to the program that needs these key pieces of information to run properly.

Regedit.exe vs. Regedit32.exe
Unless you’re running an enterprise-level machine such as a Windows NT server, you have no real need to ever use regedit32.exe. This secondary utility is available on Windows XP computers, but it simply launches regedit.exe. Basically, you just entered two more characters to achieve the exact same results.

However, on an NT machine, there is a big difference. Regedit.exe only accesses the Windows registration database on this platform. To access the NT registry, the regedit32.exe command must be used. Only Microsoft knows why they allowed this inconsistency to exist across the various Windows operating systems.

Safe Windows Registry Maintenance
Sometimes, it’s necessary to remove unused or corrupted information from the Windows registry to correct a variety of problems ranging from poor performance to unending system crashes. However, it’s very difficult and dangerous for anyone who’s not a Windows expert to make these changes. It’s possible to spend hours in the Windows Registry Editor without fixing the problem, and you could make it even worse. Instead of taking this risk, use a registry cleaner to fix your damaged registry or to maintain the database. This utility can remove orphaned or duplicated data, repair corrupted keys, eliminate blank spaces, purge malware entries, and fix a host of other problems. Once the registry is cleaned, most computers work as good as new again.