Most people who work with computer registries wear dark pointed hats with stars and celestial bodies on them. They are known as computer wizards. Computer users consider these people to have mystical powers that allow them to understand the inner workings of personal computers.
For the average user, digging into the computer registry can be risky business. The registry is that enormous file that hides on your hard drive and stores everything that your operating system needs to make you a happy user. All of those passwords and user ID’s that you have your computer save for you are in the registry. Nearly all of the user preferences for every piece of software you have installed on that precious box of yours are located within the code of the registry.
If you are having registry problems, you may have spyware, worms, trojans, and a virus or two lurking within your registry. Most registry repairs are accomplished by either restoring a previous copy of the registry from before it was damaged or by removing the offending keys and data.
The absolutely best way to repair the registry is to use a high quality program designed to fix registry problems. This may sound like a sales pitch, but the reality is that a registry cleaner is not much different from anti-virus software. No one believes you are a bad person if you use one of those. The same is true of registry cleaners. Most successful computer users employ registry repairing software regularly.
Most anti-virus and anti-spyware/adware programs clean portions of the registry as part of their work. Keeping your registry clean is important to your computer health and speed. It is common for a heavily used computer to need 30 to 100 keys removed weekly to keep up the registry’s health. The registry is like the heart of your operating system and excess registry keys are like plaque building up in its electrical arteries.
As a user, it is much easier to search and work on registries on older operating systems. Vista is a little restrictive in this area. Windows from XP back to Windows 95 allow you to access the registry by clicking on “run” from the start menu and typing “regedit” into the dialogue box. This will call up your registry. You can search it for problems, but unless you are confident about what you are looking to find, this really is not a great plan.
Running the registry editor can result in you deleting keys that are still valid and necessary. You could end up with a computer that no longer will start up or programs that need to be re-installed. Dealing with the registry is really best left to at least experienced amateurs if not professionals.
While most registry programs do a great job of helping you keep your registry happy, there is one little trick that sometimes will work in an emergency. If you have inadvertently trashed your registry, locate an old copy of one of those free web browsers. AOL seems to work best. If your computer runs enough to perform the installation, the software will do some registry modifications and repair work as it is installed. Do not bet anything you need on this, but it has worked in the past in a pinch.