Windows XP Registry

Windows XP is a much loved, but slightly older, version of the Microsoft Windows operating system. At one time, this was the preferred platform for programmers and other Information Technology professionals because it was considered much more stable than other versions of this popular OS.

Like every release of Windows since version 3.1, Windows XP requires a database called the registry to operate correctly. This collection of data contains the vast majority of the configuration settings used by the operating system, hardware components, and installed programs. If the registry is corrupted or cluttered, it can impact performance at multiple levels.

Over time, Microsoft has made many improvements to their operating system. However, the registry remains basically the same. The major difference between the Windows XP registry and the databases used by Windows Vista and Windows 7 is that these two newer releases are capable of storing 64-bit entries in addition to the traditional 32-bit values.

Editing the Windows XP Registry

If you’d like to edit the Windows XP registry, follow these easy steps:

Step 1: Create a Restore Point

  • Open the “System Restore” page. Click “Start,” click “Run,” enter “%SystemRoot%\system32\restore\rstrui.exe,” and click “OK.”
  • Click “Create a Restore Point” followed by “Next.”
  • Enter a restore-point name and click “Create.”

Step 2: Open the Windows XP Registry in Edit Mode

  • Click “Start” followed by “Run.”
  • Enter “regedit” and push “Enter.”
  • Make your changes.

Step 3: Restore the Windows XP Registry

  • Open the “System Restore” page. Click “Start,” click “Run,” enter “%SystemRoot%\system32\restore\rstrui.exe,” and click “OK.”
  • Select “Restore My Computer to an Earlier Time” and click “Next.”
  • Click “System Checkpoint.”
  • Select “Guided Help” and click “Next.”
  • Click “OK” to agree to the listed configuration changes.
  • Click “Next” on the confirmation page to restore the Windows XP registry and reboot the computer.
  • After the reboot, click “OK” to accept the changes.

The Windows XP Registry Structure
The Windows XP registry is presented in a top-down tree structure that is representative of any hierarchical database. Each component can be expanded or minimized by clicking on the label. The entries at the highest level are called keys. Each key owns one or more subkeys, and each subkey can own several values.

Keeping the Windows XP Registry Clean
If you’re still running Windows XP and haven’t touched the registry, it could be filled with unused information that slows down your machine or causes actual registry problems. Although it is possible to manually clean the Windows XP registry, this process is risky and tedious. In most cases, it would be impossible to identify every key or value that should be removed without corrupting the database. To safely maintain the Windows XP registry, use a special program called a registry cleaner. In addition to removing unnecessary information, registry cleaners can also eliminate harmful values added to the database by viruses, malware, and spyware.