Resources Regarding the Registry
More and more people each day are beginning their experiences with computers. Due to the large numbers of first-timers trying their hand at something new, it could be argued that the average computer user's skill in performing diagnostic processes, system maintenance, and other relatively advanced tasks has steadily gone down over time. The first intentions of many users are more directed towards things like sending and receiving email, browsing the net, and creating text documents. While things like maintaining the registry and defragmenting our hard drives may not be the things we're most interesting in learning to do successfully, they are no less important. Neglect in these areas can eventually result in reduced performance or even interruptions in the form of errors. It's hard to effectively execute common computing tasks when you're obstructed by various kinds of problems, so these things are better taken care of before a major one occurs.
Sometimes the source of these errors can be the registry, a location on each of our Windows-based computers that is often completely unknown to novice users. It is a place where small files that control settings for all of the programs on our computer, including core Windows settings are stored. They can be accessed at any time by a program that requires access to them. The values stored within these files can also me manipulated by the user, and even malicious software that acts on its own against the user's intention. Incorrect adjustment or manipulation of these files can easily lead to a number of problems, including inability to store or access third-party program configurations, unexpected behavior by third-party programs or Windows programs. Any part of internal Windows files can be affected, so everything from critical system information executed during the boot process to the way "Explorer," the graphical built-in file browser handles different file types. Registry errors don't necessarily manifest themselves within a single spectrum of symptoms, but in many types of ways. Even the dreaded "BSOD" or "blue screen of death" which appears when Windows completely crashes and begins a physical memory dump may be caused by a corrupt or improperly altered registry value.
So, how do you know when the problem that you're experiencing is related to the registry? Since there are so many types of problems whose root cause may be related to the registry, it can often be difficult to tell. There are, however, certain things to ask yourself and keep in mind when troubleshooting your issue. Firstly, if you've got a fresh Windows installation with only a few trusted and widely used programs installed, a sudden error that occurs is unlikely to be associated with the registry, assuming you haven't yet made any changes to it yourself. No legitimate program, unless unstable and in early stages of development or testing, should even be capable of making changes to the registry that cause errors. If an error does occur in this way, it should only affect the program itself, and not the stability of the entire system as a whole. The program may freeze or automatically quit as soon as it is executed, for example. No honest, reputable software will make changes to any part of the registry except its own, but various forms or malicious software including viruses, spyware and adware may be dishonest enough to do so.
You become much more likely to experience a registry related error should you be carelessly installing lots of programs from untrusted sources. These programs may harbor bits of code that get to work immediately corrupting files, changing access permissions, system settings, and many more nasty things. Individuals with the bad habit of engaging in this kind of behavior can expect to spend a lot of time troubleshooting frustrating errors. Sometimes even legitimate and benign programs can still have a negative effect on the registry, leaving unnecessary files behind. Some time with a registry cleaner can be of help when dealing with these issues. Always research your particular error well and be as sure of your actions as you can before making changes to critical registry files to avoid loss of data, and backups help as well.