Term: registry

The registry is nothing more than a highly structured database of information managed by Windows.

Almost all user and system settings, configuration information, passwords, and more are kept in the registry. Windows applications are also encouraged to keep their settings and configuration in the registry.

Its implementation is somewhat controversial; some feel that a simpler mechanism such as plain text files used in other OS’s would be more robust. The reality is that most registry related issues are due to the data stored in the registry and not the fault of the registry itself.

There is no doubt that the registry is a large and complex database of information that application developers need to understand before attempting to use. The registry is designed  to securely support several multi-user and enterprise-wide features, and do so in as fault-tolerant a way as possible. Information must cover corporate policies, per-user settings for the system and all installed applications, as well as machine-specific data. On top of the different types of data stored on a machine, some user-specific data may also apply to, and need to be easily replicated to, a corporate-wide environment. The result is that the registry is a database of fairly complex data.

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