A simple answer to this complicated question would be: “Windows Registry is a system database in which certain application data is stored.” When I heard this answer, I would have asked the person to elaborate if I wasn’t watching a video. In time, I got my explanation, and I would like to share it with you, so that you don’t have to look like I had.
First of all, I need to explain what “execution time” is. Simply put, execution time is time during which a program runs on your computer. During the execution time of, for example, an Internet browser, the application (Internet browser) is loaded into computer memory (RAM), and its requests are being processed (CPU).
When you click the red X in the top-right corner, you close the program, and it is unloaded for memory to free space for a different program. Everything you have done is deleted. Well, almost everything. If you downloaded a file, it remains saved on your hard drive. And it is there when you reboot your computer. You can’t return whatever there was in RAM the moment you terminated the program. But you can return everything on the hard drive.
That’s where the Registry kicks in. The program (Internet browser) can’t recall data from the last execution time, unless they are saved somewhere. Even though the Registry isn’t the only option (you can save things in files, remember?), they are one of the options for certain data.
The usual data stored in Registry are user preferences and similar. For instance, you resize the Internet browser. The next time you open it, it will be shown exactly the same way, on exactly the same spot where you left it. The data about it (width, height, position etc.) is saved in Registry. And so is your chosen language and recently open files.
Ever wandered how programs know how to place the icon on your desktop only (they need to know your username for that)? Or how do saved games always end up in “[installation_directory]/saved”, regardless what “[installation_directory]” is? The answers are simple — Registry holds data of every username — during installation, “[installation_directory]” is saved in Registry.
Don’t forget to clean your Registry every once a while. You don’t need to clean it weekly or monthly, but once in a few months is more than good. After all, Registry is not a hard disk system. It doesn’t get fragmented that quickly, and it doesn’t have as much 0 bytes files (registry keys) as the system.
You have some good registry cleaning programs in my resource box below.
Having problems with your computer?