To function properly, computers running the Windows 7 operating system rely on the information stored in the Windows 7 registry. This database includes settings used by the Windows 7 OS and any installed program as well as most other configuration values. Here are a few activities that typically impact the Windows 7 registry:
- Installing or removing a program
- Adding or removing a new piece of hardware
- Upgrading from a trial version to a purchased copy of a program
- Changing your security settings
The Windows registry has been a major component of Microsoft’s operating system since Windows 3.1 was released. With the Windows Vista registry, it became capable of storing 64-bit entries in addition to the standard 32-bit values. Other than that, the registry appears virtually unchanged to the typical user as they move from one version of the Microsoft operating system to the next.
Backing Up the Windows 7 Registry
Although any user can manually change the Windows 7 registry, it’s a risky thing to do. Making a critical mistake without a registry back-up could cripple your system. Before going through with this plan, following these steps to backup the Windows 7 registry:
- Click “Start.”
- Enter “systempropertiesprotection.”
- Press “Enter.”
- Enter the admin password or click “Allow” if you’re prompted to do so.
- Once the “Systems Properties” screen appears, select the “Systems Protection” tab and click “Create.”
- Enter a name to identify the restore point.
- Click “Create” again.
- Click “OK” two times to complete the process.
Editing the Windows 7 Registry
The Windows 7 registry contains three basic types of data: keys, subkeys, and values. Most users only modify values or delete the entire key. Remember that deleting a key or subkey removes any lower components or children.
Once you’re in edit mode, the registry displays in a tree structure similar to the detail view in Windows Explorer. Clicking on an icon expands or minimizes the listing. If your goal is to modify a program setting, click on “Computer” followed by “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE” followed by “SOFTWARE.” At this point, you should see a list of all installed applications.
To edit the Windows 7 registry, follow these steps:
- Click “Start.”
- Type “regedit” in the dialog box.
- Press “Enter”
- The Registry Editor window should open.
- Make any necessary changes before exiting the editor.
Restoring the Windows 7 Registry
If you’re not satisfied with the results, follow these steps to restore the registry from the backup:
- Follow the first four steps from the backup section to open the “System Properties” dialog box.
- Click on “System Restore.”
- Click on “Choose a Different Restore Point.”
- Click “Next.”
- Choose the appropriate restore point and click “Next.”
- Confirm your choice.
- Click “Finish System Restore.”
- After the computer reboots, click “OK” on the confirmation page to accept the restore.
Cleaning the Registry
To keep your Windows 7 operating system running at peak performance, it’s necessary to remove unnecessary information from the registry from time to time. Even if you go through the tedious process of backing up and editing the registry on a regular basis, it would be impossible to maintain. Instead, special programs called registry cleaners can do this work for you.