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The Windows XP registry is one of the most important components of your PC. Your Windows XP settings are stored in the operating system's registry. So if you want to safeguard your settings, you must learn how to protect the registry's contents. For that matter, if you want to tweak the operating system using the registry, make doubly sure that you've left a way to get out of any trouble you might cause through overly-enthusiastic hacking. This is for all you Windows XP enthusiasts who edit the registry using the Registry Editor (Regedit).
Click the "Start" menu button to open the Start menu.
Type "regedit" into the text field and press "Enter."
Access the many different entries in your Windows XP registry. It is separated into primary sections: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT, HKEY_CURRENT_USER, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, HKEY_USERS and HKEY_CURRENT CONFIG. Each section contains a different set of entries related to different aspects of Windows XP operation.
Click on one of the plus-signs (+) next to one of the root directories, opening a more detailed list. This second level will have more directories to choose from, and will make it easier for you to find entries you need to clean the registry.
Delete entries in the registry that you know are either causing conflicts or are no longer necessary. Do this by pressing the "Delete" key, or by right-clicking on your mouse and choosing "Delete entry."
Invest in a third-party registry application to help you clean your Windows XP registry. Several programs are available that do the dirty work for you. Some even include backup capabilities to retrace their steps in the event of a critical error.
Clean your boot records by changing which programs load themselves at startup. Click through both the LOCAL_MACHINE and CURRENT_USER directories until you reach Software/Microsoft/Windows/Run and RunOnce. From here, you can clean out registry entries that are causing certain programs to run on startup.
Three Practices to Safe Hacking Windows Registry
Here, you'll learn 3 methods for protecting the registry before you edit it. If you use any one of these methods, you'll almost never make a change that you can't restore. Keep in mind that I use these methods to back up specific branches of the registry while working in those branches. I don't use them to back up the entire registry. System Restore takes care of that for you, so you don't have to manually back up the whole thing.
Leave original data a manual backup before removing them immediately.
Rename the original value to something like Initials_ Name, where Initials is your initials, and Name is the value's original name.
Add a date if you think you're going to change the value often.
Add a new value using the original name and type but with new data. You're all set to change the value and if you don't like the result, you can restore the original value with little effort.
Export the part of the registry in which you're working to a REG file.
Import the REG file to restore the original settings. I'm not as keen on this method as the next method I describe, since importing a REG file in to the registry doesn't always restore keys to their original states (importing a REG file doesn't remove settings from the registry that you've added since creating the REG file). This is an acceptable option for real quick backup copies of individual values, however, since you can edit REG files to remove values that you don't want to restore.
Export branches to hive files.
Hive files are better than REG files for backing up the registry. When you restore a hive file containing a key, the Registry Editor completely replaces the current key and all of its subkeys with the contents of the hive file. Exporting branches to hive files is similar to exporting them to REG files; you just pick a different file type:
Click Start, click Run, type regedit, and click OK.
On the File menu, click Export.
In the Save as type list, click Registry Hive Files.
Type the name of the new hive file, and then click Save.
Reverse the process to restore your settings:
In the Registry Editor, click File, click Import, click Registry Hive Files in the Save as type list, type the name of the hive file to which you backed up your settings, and then click Open. You can use any file extension you like, but I prefer to give hive files the .dat extension. The .hiv extension is also common for hive files.
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