Starting with Version 3.1 through Windows 7, every Windows-based computer requires a functional registry to operate in a stable manner. Almost every component on your computer, from the operating system to the hardware, uses this database to store critical configuration settings.
The registry hasn’t changed much from its original form until the present day. Although this database was enhanced for Windows Vista to accept 64-bit values in addition to the standard 32-bit entries, the overall structure and concept remains the same.
According to many, Windows Vista was the least popular of all the Windows releases, but plenty of machines running this OS are in use today. Most complaints revolve around speed and the lack of backward compatibility with older software releases. If you’ve decided to stick with your Windows Vista machine for now, understanding how to manipulate the Windows Vista directory may come in handy.
Step 1: Back Up The Windows Vista Registry Before Making Any Changes
Because a manual change could cripple your system, play it smart and back up the Windows registry prior to making any modification. Follow these steps to create the backup:
- Open the “Systems Properties” menu by clicking “Start,” typing “systemspropertiesprotection” at the prompt, and clicking “Enter”.
- If prompted for a password or confirmation, enter it or click “Allow.”
- Once the “Systems Properties” menu opens, select the “System Protection” tab and click on “Create.”
- Enter a name for your new restore point.
- Click the “Create” button.
- Once the restore point is created, “OK” must be clicked two more times to complete the process.
Step 2: Edit the Windows Vista Registry
Follow these steps to edit the registry for Windows Vista:
- Click “Start” and enter “regedit” at the prompt.
- Press the “Enter” key.
- Make the necessary changes in the Registry Editor window.
Within the Registry Editor window, the database displays as a conventional tree structure, similar to any other hierarchical database. Click on icons to expand or minimize listings. Within each listing, the database consists of keys followed by subkeys followed by values.
In most cases, the typical user is only interested in modifying a particular value or deleting a subkey and its related values. Deleting a parent will also remove any of its associated children. If you delete at the key level, it could disable the entire system and require a reload of the Windows Vista registry.
Generally, you won’t cause too much damage by editing subkeys and values related to installed software. In the worst case scenario, a program may cease to function. To find this information, look under the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE key for the SOFTWARE subkey. Expand this area to see a list of the programs installed on your computer.
Step 3: Restore the Windows Vista Registry
The following steps can be used to restore the Windows Vista registry:
• Go back to the “Systems Properties” menu used in the backup instructions.
• Select “System Restore.”
• Select “Choose a Different Restore Point” and press “Next.”
• Select the appropriate restore point and press “Next.”
• Confirm when prompted.
• Select “Finish System Restore.”
• Allow the computer to reboot.
• Confirm the restore when asked to make the change permanent.
Step 4: Cleaning the Windows Vista Registry
A clogged, cluttered registry can impact your machine’s performance. Removing unused and unnecessary information every so often can help keep your computer stable and running like new. As you can probably imagine, trying to accomplish this task manually is next to impossible. Luckily, special-purpose programs called registry cleaners can do this for you. Instead of an endless cycle of backups, edits, and restores, allow a registry cleaner to safely maintain your computer’s Windows Vista registry.