Archive for February, 2012

How to Manually Edit the Windows Registry

The Windows registry is one of the important components of a personal computer. It is essentially a centralized database that contains all the settings and options on your computer system.

All of these items are stored in the form of keys, subkeys and their associated values. Changes are made to this area every time you install a new piece of software, add on a hardware device, or even perform a simple task such as adjusting the color of your display.

The larger the registry grows, the greater the probability of experiencing performance issues. Although third-party registry cleaning products are incredibly efficient, these programs may not have the power to effectively clear up all the clutter and corruption. The good thing is that there is a tool that allows you to manually repair the registry and get rid of all the obsolete entries threatening the performance of your computer. That tool is known as regedit.

Accessing and Backing up the Registry with Regedit

Registry Editor or simply regedit, is a built-in Windows utility designed to provide access to the registry. Any computer expert will tell you that efficient use of this tool is the most effective way to address problems in the registry.

  1.  To access the Windows Registry Editor, open the “Start” menu and click “Run.”
  2.  Type “regedit” into the command field and click “Enter.”

If you plan to perform edits on a regular basis, it is probably wise to make yourself familiar with interface of the Registry Editor. Its presentation is sectioned off into two separate windows panes. On the left you will find a tree organized in hierarchical fashion and on the right you will see individual values. However, before you perform any edits, it is important to backup the existing registry in its entirety. This will allow the undoing of any mistakes or changes that negatively affect your system. To perform a backup, follow the steps below:

  1.  From within the registry, click “File” and choose “Export” from the menu.
  2.  Next, select “All” from the “Export range” window.
  3.  Select a destination for the backup file and then give it a name.
  4.  Lastly, click on the “Save” tab.

Deleting Keys from the Registry

Once inside, you can search for old applications and delete any program listings of applications that have already been removed from the system. To begin your search, follow the steps below:

  1.  Expand the ‘HKEY_CURRENT_USER” key. This can be done by clicking the (+) sign beside it.
  2.  Next, expand the “Software” key.
  3.  From here you want to search for keys that are either represented by the name of the program, or the name of the company that distributes the software.
  4.  Once you find the application, highlight its key, and then click “Del” to remove it.

When removing application listings, you have more options for locating the desired program. You can search for it by name, executable file or folder name. To perform these actions, follow the steps below:

  1.  Simultaneously press “Ctrl” and “f’ to open the search window.
  2.  Enter the desired text to find the listing for the application and click “OK” to initiate the search.
  3.  If the results are successful, the returned key or value will be highlight.
  4.  Click “Del” to remove the appropriate listing.
  5.  Press the “F3” key to find the next listing and repeat the above steps.

Remove Startup Items from the Registry

Many software applications on your computer install values in the registry every time Windows starts up. Over time, this can weigh heavily on your computer. To delete these values, follow the steps below:

  1.  Refer to the instructions above to access the “My Computer\ HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ SOFTWARE\ Microsoft\ Windows\ Current Version” folder.
  2.  Next, highlight the “Run” key.
  3.  Search through the values in the left pane and highlight the one you want to remove. If you are not sure what you’re looking for, perform an online search for the text to find out what value it represents.
  4.  Once you determine the right value, click “Del.” If you want to delete multiple entries, simply hold down “Shift” while navigating through your selections.

After you are done making adjustments, exit the registry.

A Warning About the Registry Editor

Before proceeding, you should be warned that the improper use of regedit could result in major problems that require you to reinstall Windows entirely. If you are not someone who firmly believes in backing up data, you could end up losing everything on your computer. Although we have provided comprehensive instructions in this guide, we advise that you utilize the Registry Editor tool at your own risk.

The Windows Remote Registry Service

The Windows Remote Service is a feature found Windows 2000, 2003 and XP operating systems. As the name implies, it is a service that enables remote administrators or users to connect to a desktop or server system and view or modify the Windows registry.

If you are not familiar with this component, the registry is a database located within the Windows operating system. It is responsible for storing all of your configuration settings and options. This includes details about your graphics card, software applications, user preferences and most everything relevant to your computer system.

The Windows Remote Registry Service is a viable tool for remotely handling management tasks without needing to manually log into the system. However, you should keep in mind that the mere structure of this service makes it a potential security risk, especially when considering all the sensitive information the registry contains. For this reason, many security experts strongly suggest that you disable the feature if it is not required for remote management purposes.

How to Disable the Windows Remote Registry Service

To disable the Windows Remote Registry Service, follow the steps below:

  1.  Open the “Start” menu, click “Run”, type “services.msc” into the command field and click “OK.”
  2.  In the right pane of the “Services” window, navigate through the options, right-click on “Remote Registry” and select “Properties” from the submenu.
  3.  Choose “Disabled” as the Startup type. If the service is currently running, click the “Stop” tab.
  4.  Finally, click “Apply” and then “OK” to make the changes take effect.

Once the Windows Remote Registry Service has either been stopped or disabled, access to the registry will only be permitted by the administrator or authorized users on the local computer. While disabling it will not negatively impact your system in any way, it will prevent other computers or devices from being able to connect to the local machine.

Enabling Restricted Access to the Windows Remote Registry Service

As we mentioned before, if there is no need for remote management tasks, then the Windows Remote Registry service does not need to be enabled. On the other hand, if your computer is a part of the Active Directory domain and running on a corporate network, then some user groups or administrators may require this function in order to remotely access the Windows registry. If this is the case, you can choose to enable a restricted level of remote access to the registry. This can be done by following the steps below:

  1.  Open the “Start” menu, click “Run”, type “regedit” into the command field and click “OK.”
  2.  From within the Registry Editor, navigate to the key (folder) that reads “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurePipeServers\.”
  3.  Next, right-click on the above folder, choose “Edit” and then select “Permissions.”
  4.  In the following window, make the appropriate selections from the group and user options of “Administrators”, Everyone”, “RESTRICTED” and “SYSTEM” as well as the permissions of “Full Control”, “Read” and Special Permissions.”
  5.  After making your selections, click “OK”, “Apply” to make the changes go into effect, and then exit the Registry Editor.

Once you have completed the above steps, the Windows Remote Windows Services will be configured accordingly and only permit authorized users or groups to access your PC or server.

Is it Safe to Run the Windows Remote Registry Service?

A feature such as the Windows Remote Registry Service can be a rather scary concept when factoring in all the sensitive data the Windows registry contains. The truth is that no remote party can make any changes or even access this critical database without having the ability to establish a successful connection with the correct username, password and most importantly, administrative rights. That is, provided you have enabled these recommended security mechanisms on your operating system.

On a more positive note, the Windows Remote Registry Service is very key component as it provides your computer with the ability to communicate with other systems on a Windows network. In the corporate network environment, it allows IT administrators to remotely change system settings and establish necessary group policies via the Domain Controller function. If you have applied basic security measures on your network, such as ensuring that all users have created secure login details or have not provided an administrator with your financial details, it is perfectly fine to leave this feature set to enabled by default.

In the busy IT environment where mobility has become essential, the Windows Remote Registry Service could be exactly what you need to manage your business with more efficiency.

 

How the Windows Registry Affects PC Performance

The registry is perhaps the most mysterious of all elements within the Windows operating system. Even experienced users approach this area with extra caution. This is mainly because the registry contains so much vital information and plays such an integral role in operation of a Windows PC.

All Microsoft operating systems from Windows 95 on up have a registry to keep track of your initial settings, changes that were made to enhance the presentation of your desktop, files you downloaded from online, and just about everything else related to computer configuration. Not only does this database store information regarding the essential components of the system, but it also has an impact on the overall performance of your computer.

Chaos in the Registry

Most often, when you install new software application, significant changes are instantly made to the registry. When it comes to performance problems, software is usually one of the main culprits.

Anyone who takes the time out to troubleshoot these performance issues should be aware that some programs installed on a computer are not properly scripted from the beginning. Others have been known to install additional components that you may or may not need.

All of this attributes to clutter that sees your registry growing and making for an unstable computer. Signs of trouble generally include programs that take longer to start than usually, constant freezing, application crashes, and even the crashing of your entire system. Performance issues can also be the direct result of removing software package. It is very common for some programs to leave behind keys, files and other entries that are no longer needed by your operating system.

When the registry becomes congested with invalid, corrupt or otherwise insignificant items, your PC is the one to suffer and degrading performance usually points to signs of trouble.

There are many factors that can lead to registry problems and many of them are a direct result of the internet. While the internet provides us with convenient access to online shopping outlets, entertainment, social networking, business opportunities and all the resources of the World Wide Web, it also opens up the door to a world of potential security risks.

Some of the biggest threats of all fall under the family of malicious software programs known as malware. Viruses, Trojans and spyware are major problems on today’s internet, posing a threat to information security and computer performance as well. These malicious applications consume enough vital system resources as it is so when they plant their disruptive seeds in the registry, things can really start to go haywire. What makes malware such a nuisance to the Windows operating system is that even when they have seemingly been completely removed by a virus scanner, some of their malicious keys and files can be left behind as entries in the registry.

Maintaining a Healthy Registry and Optimal Performance

Maintaining the health of the Windows registry is a must if you want a computer that performs at an optimal level. Achieving this may seem difficult when considering that general use of a PC causes the registry to naturally expand over time. However, there are a few ways to reduce the threat of infection and completely eliminate all those troublesome entries.

You can start by installing a reliable security software program on your computer. This application should be equipped with features that effectively detect and immediately remove of all threats. Anti-virus software alone is no longer enough, therefore, you need a solution that can mitigate worms, adware, tracing cookies and other items that are potentially hazardous to the security and performance of your computer.

Another highly recommended measure you can take is cleaning out the registry to clear out all the clutter. There are a couple of options available to perform these tasks but the most effective are software tools known as registry cleaners. These programs help alleviate the dangers of manual edits by penetrating the database of your Windows operating system, scanning the area, and instantly repairing the errors contributing to your performance issues. They are currently widely available, affordable and most importantly, easy to operate for the inexperienced user.

The registry is vital to the health and performance of the Windows operating system. Because of this, it needs to be tuned up every now and then to make sure everything is in order. By coupling a security program and safe computing with a registry cleaner, you can make sure you PC performs like a champ for a long time to come.

Outlook 2007: Restore the Favorites Folder

outlook-2007I was finally upgrading my PC from Vista to Windows 7 and of course had to go through the process of moving and restoring my preferred Windows settings. Yesterday, I finished configuring Outlook 2007 but this morning when I launched Outlook, I could not find the Favorite Folders at all, which was a bummer because I just put a lot of folders there last night.

Anyway, I finally figured out what to do and here are the steps I used to get the Favorite Folders in Outlook back.

How to Restore the ‘Favorites Folder in Outlook 2007

  1. Close Outlook.
  2. Click the Windows Start button in the lower, left corner of the screen.
  3. Click Run.
  4. Type Outlook.exe /resetnavpane.
  5. OpenOutlook again.
  6. From the View menu, click the Navigation Pane and voila! now you can select the Favorite Folders option again.

Hope this works for you too!

Free Registry Cleaners vs. Commercial Registry Cleaners

registry-cleanerRegistry cleaners are software tools designed to repair and optimize the performance of a Windows computer system. These processes are performed by removing obsolete and invalid entries from a central database known as the registry.

Such entries may accumulate due to corruption or items that were left behind from a failed program removal or outdated driver. When this area becomes congested with a load of unwanted items, maintenance needs to be performed to get things back in order and ensure optimal performance.

Types of Registry Cleaners

When it comes to registry cleaners, you essentially have two types of products: free and paid commercial solutions. While both aim to deliver the same results of clearing up errors and unwanted items, they are quite distinct and far more areas than cost alone. The differences between the two could be the determining factor in choosing which type of product is best suited for your needs.

Free Registry Cleaners

Free registry cleaners are attractive for a number of reasons, the obvious being that you do not have to incur any costs to benefit from the overall value of the program. This could be a tremendous plus for the user who is not sure about spending money on such unfamiliar software or simply cannot afford to do so.

In addition to this, some of the free products actually perform well and do a fine job at removing entries and optimizing your PC. Indeed, free registry cleaners have their uses, but the disadvantages tend to greatly outweigh the advantages every time.

What most users do not realize before downloading a product is that free registry cleaners usually lack some of the key features and functionality you get with a commercial solution. While some allow you to upgrade to obtain added capabilities, for a fee of course, others leave you stuck with a program that is simply insufficient for your needs.

Because the product is being distributed free of charge, many vendors do not invest the resources needed to keep the application fresh with updates, to incorporate new features, or address any problems that were identified. The biggest feature often missing from these products is technical support. This basically means that if you encounter any issues, there is no paid support staff to lean on for guidance.

Another disadvantage of free registry cleaners is that you never know what you are downloading and installing on your computer. It could be a reliable program that does a decent job at detecting and eliminating errors, or one that simply displays an arsenal of errors to alarm you into purchasing a premium edition of the product.

You also have to be weary of registry cleaning tools that are actually malicious Trojan horses in disguise or bundled with potentially dangerous programs such as adware or spyware. The web is infested with trickery and deceit so one must always proceed with caution when deciding to download anything from online. The product that looks is if it will restore the health of your computer could end up damaging it to point of no repair.

Commercial Registry Cleaners

The biggest downside to commercial registry cleaners is that you have to purchase the product. Although most are affordable, the price varies depending on the product and the distributor. However, when investing in a reliable tool, the disadvantages are quite minimal and easy to overlook.

Commercial registry cleaners normally provide all the features and functionality lacking in their free counterparts. They also tend to be more advanced with capabilities that stem beyond scanning and removal, including backup and defragmentation. Commercial products typically come attached with support to address technical concerns as well as regular updates to ensure the software is giving you the best possible performance.

With less worry over deficiencies and dangerous downloads, these programs just make for a more reliable option. Whereas many developers create free registry cleaners in their spare time, vendors marketing paid solutions have the resources needed to continually invest in the product and make sure it works properly.

Registry cleaners are reliable tools that can drastically enhance the performance of your PC. This holds true for both the free and paid variety. The big difference is that a commercial program is almost always more efficient and reliable than one that is free to use. For some, the peace of mind provided by a tried and tested solution is worth every penny in comparison to the all the hassle and risk that come along with free programs.

In the end, the right registry cleaning tool for you all boils down on your preference or specific needs. When basing your decision off these parameters, you are more likely to find an ideal tool that works whether you spend money for it or not.

How to Back Up and Restore the Windows Registry

From the inception of Windows 95, the Windows operating system stores virtually everything it knows about your computer in an hierarchical database known as the registry. It is responsible for storing configuration settings, user preferences, launch instructions and other important information relevant to the operation of your PC.

Due to its sensitivity, it is vital that this area remain healthy to keep your computer stable and running at an optimal level. Because all of this data is stored in one centralized area, it is fairly easy to make adjustments and edits to remove invalid or unwanted entries. However, manually tampering with the registry is potentially dangerous as one false move could actually damage your operating system and render it inoperable.

Therefore, it becomes necessary to backup this database before making any changes. Should something go wrong, this will give you the ability to restore the registry to a normal working state and retrace your steps.

Backing up the Registry with System Restore

You have a number of options for backing up the registry and one is a tool called System Restore. Built into Vista and XP versions of the Windows operating system, the System Restore utility lets you create a restore point to revert your PC back to a time before it encountered problems when making a certain change.

A restore point is simply a snapshot of the system state, which generally includes system data and the entire registry. If you have System Restore enabled, Windows will automatically create restore points on a regular basis depending on how much disk space is allocated to the feature.

To restore the Windows registry with System Restore, follow the steps below:

  1. Open the “Start” menu, highlight “All Programs”, choose “Accessories”, then “System Tools” and select “System Restore” from the sub-menu.
  2. Click on “Create a restore point” and then click “Next.”
  3. Next, enter a name for the desired restore point and click on the “Create” tab. For this step, make sure that you enter a relevant name so you can identify the point you will be restoring the system to.
  4. Click “Create” and that’s it.

Your restore point has been created and your Windows registry is now backed up on the system.

Restoring the Registry with System Restore

Restoring the Windows registry is quite similar to backing it up with the System Restore utility. From inside of System Restore, click on “Restore my computer to an earlier time’” and then click “Next.” From here, you will be presented with a calendar, usually of the current month. You will notice that some of the dates on the calendar are marked bold. These bold dates represent your restore points. Select one of the bold dates and then choose a restore point from the box to the right of the calendar.

After you have found a desirable restore point, click “Next” and then confirm your selection. If all goes well when completing these steps, the registry will be restored and the system will automatically restart.

Backing up the Registry with the Registry Editor

Another option you have for backing up the registry is regedit, an editing tool built into the Windows operating system. Although this utility can be a bit intimidating, performing this task is actually quite simply. To back up the Windows registry with regedit, follow the steps below:

  1. Open the “Start” menu, click on “Run”, type “regedit” into the command field and press “Enter.”
  2. Next, click “File” and then select “Export
  3. Give the backup registry file a name and then choose the option that allows you to save as “All files.”

That’s it. The backup file of your registry has been created. Now it’s all about knowing how to restore it.

Restoring the Registry with the Registry Editor

If you thought performing a backup with the regedit tool was simple, restoring the registry is even easier. All you have to do is refer to the steps below:

  1. Open the “Start” menu, click on “Run”, type “regedit” into the command field and press “Enter.”
  2. Next, click “File” and this time, select “Import.”
  3. Lastly, browse Windows to locate the registry file and then double-click it or click “open.”

That’s it. The backup file for your registry has been restored and opened on the system. As a precautionary measure, it is strongly recommended to store your backup file in a safe place, preferably on removable media such as a CD/DVD or USB flash drive. This will allow you to restore the registry should your system become unstable and the backup file inaccessible.

How to Clean the Windows Registry

registry-cleanerThe registry is a centralized database that forms the core of a Windows-based computer. This extensive catalog is where the operating system stores critical information that pertains to the software and hardware installed on your computer, configuration, user preferences and much more.

The registry grows through natural use and as it expands, your PC is subject to performance issues. Gradual usage such as installing and removing applications, downloading files from the internet, and performing various other computing tasks, could result in a number of invalid, obsolete or corrupt records that leave this critical area cluttered with unwanted records. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to remove these unwanted entries, clean the Windows registry and restore the optimal performance of your computer.

Registry Cleaning Software

First and foremost, you should know that the registry can be accessed with a built-in Windows utility called regedit (registry editor). As the name implies, this tool allows you to enter the registry and perform edits. This includes the removal of invalid or unwanted entries. However, the use or regedit is not recommended for inexperienced users as mistakes in this highly sensitive area can leave you with far more problems than you started out with. For those who lack the skill set this task requires, registry cleaners exist to safely probe the Windows registry and remove troublesome entries, as well as clean up the mess.

registry-cleanerRegistry cleaners are programs that offer the ability to automatically clean and repair the Windows registry. These tools are generally very easy to use and can resolve your performance problems in a matter of a few clicks. A reliable tool will enter the registry with ease, scan the area and fix a number of system errors that result from bad drivers, failed program installations and abandoned DDL files. This is often done by defragmenting the area, removing any holes that are detected, and then reorganizing those entries to the point where they are contiguous.

 The growing awareness of performance issues has resulted in a high demand for registry maintenance and to meet these needs, several third-party products have been introduced on the market. When looking for a solution, it is important to select a tool that is compatible with your computer system and meets your particular needs.

Remove Malicious Entries from the Registry

Malware is significant in today’s web-based world and this threat can have a direct impact on your PC. Viruses, worms, Trojans and spyware are just a few of the malicious programs that can be contracted from opening an infected email or visiting a compromised website. Aside from posing a threat to the security of your computer system, these malicious items also clutter your hard disk drive with potentially dangerous files and leave unwanted keys in the Windows registry. These entries can be embedded so deep into the core of your system that manually removing them is nearly impossible.

You don’t have to be a computer expert to know that this is not a good situation. These issues can be prevented by regularly running an efficient scanner to check for malicious items. A good anti-malware tool will seek out infections on your computer and remove their entries from the registry. To get the best results, make sure your security software receives the regular updates necessary to mitigate the most recent threats identified by security vendors.

Clean the Windows Registry with an Uninstaller Tool

 Failed or incomplete program installations or removals can lead to a large volume of files scattered all over your system and unwanted values in the registry. In most cases, a user performs the removal of a program with the Add/Remove programs utility found in the Windows operating system or the uninstaller specifically designed for that particular application. However, this process doesn’t always go smoothly as some files are not removed entire in wind up in the registry.

Similar to the cleaning programs mentioned above, there are a variety of third-party products designed to completely uninstall software applications and eliminate the clutter on your PC. A quality uninstaller product is another efficient tool for ensuring a clean and healthy registry.

The registry is the heart of your computer system. In order to enjoy a safe and smooth computing experience, this organ must be frequently maintained to keep it clear of unwanted and potentially harmful entries. Software products such as registry cleaners, anti-malware solutions and premium uninstallers make great tools to have in your arsenal. Because you might not be sure of the source, a combination of these tools gives you an even better chance of eliminating your registry problems.

What is the Windows Registry?

registry-cleaner If you are not well versed with the inner workings of a computer, you probably have no idea of what a registry is or what purpose it serves. The registry is a database integrated into most Windows operating system. Serving as a repository of sorts, the registry is designed to store information regarding system files and configurations, user preferences, hardware devices and instructions installed programs need to function properly.

 When you open an application, such as Microsoft Word, the Windows operating system queries the registry to find out where the launch instructions for that particular program are stored. When new hardware or software is installed, a user downloads a file from the internet or simply changes their desktop screen, this is where that information is stored. In fact, a large majority of the activities that occur on your computer are noted in this area.

The Importance of the Windows Registry

The registry is an essential element of the Windows operating system. This sensitive area is so vital to your computer that without its presence, your machine would not be able to function at all. Upon startup, a Windows-based computer reads configuration data in the registry. This allows the system to determine which settings must be applied, what drivers needed to be loaded, and what system resources must be allocated for the machine to work.

Because this data is stored on your local hard drive, the information is made available to Windows each time the computer is booted up. The registry is not only essential for the normal operation of your computer, but also in providing you with a way to customize the Windows environment to suit your particular preference and needs.

Architecture of the Windows Registry

registry-cleaner The Windows registry is structured in hierarchical fashion. This architecture consists of main keys, keys and values. Below we have provided details on each component:

Main Keys – Also referred to as hives, the main keys are positioned at the top of the hierarchical structure with each key holding information for a certain category. For instance, one main key might contain details regarding software applications installed on the computer. The main keys found in the registry all depend on the version of Windows installed on your computer.

Here is more information about the possible main keys in your Windows registry:

HKCU (HKEY_CURRENT_USER_ – Contains preferences and configuration data for the user currently logged on to the system. When another user is simultaneously logged on to the same computer, the information this main key contains changes according to that particular user.

HKLM (HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE) – Contains configuration data for the actual machine. The information stored in this main key remains the same no matter what user is logged on to the system.

HKCR (HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT) – Contains data that is relevant to the main user interface. Examples of this type of information would be shortcuts and file associations.

HKU (HKEY_USERS) – Contains data for each and every user that has ever logged onto the computer.

HKCC (HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG) – Contains data concerning configurations for hardware devices currently installed on the machine. This particular main key is directly linked to the HKLM hive listed above.

HKDD (HKEY_DYN_DATA) – Contains data regarding plug-and-play hardware. This particular main key is only found in registries on Windows 95, 98 or ME platforms. In these environments, it is also linked to the HKLM hive.

Keys and Subkeys - In relation to the Windows operating system, a key represents an organizational unit found in the registry. They act as containers and may either store values, or lower-level keys known as subkeys. Subkeys are quite similar to typical folders as they may contain other folders or values while resting in the registry.

Values – Often referred to as entries, values are like files to a folder as they contain the data that is actually being stored in either a key or subkey. The registry stores a number of different value types but the most common are strings, DWORD and binary values.

The best way to visualize the registry is to view it like the folder/file tree structure on your Windows computer. The main keys, keys and subkeys essentially represent the path that must be traveled in order to access the actual data that is stored in the file, which in this case, is the value.

Though we don’t all need to be computer technicians, having a basic understanding of how the registry works is important. This centralized area is critical to the functioning of your PC and one day, you just might need to access it.