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Chapter 3. The Registry > Behind the Scenes: Hives and DAT Files

3.2. Behind the Scenes: Hives and DAT Files

HKEY_USERS and HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE can be thought of as the only true root keys, because the Registry's three other root keys are simply symbolic links, or "mirrors," of different portions of the first two (see Section 3.1 earlier in this chapter). This means that only these two branches actually need to be stored.

Like its predecessors, Windows Me stores the HKEY_USERS and HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE branches in two files, User.dat and System.dat, respectively. On a single-user system, both files are located in your Windows folder; on a multiple-user system, the User.dat file for each configured user is stored in that user's personal folder. These files are all hidden, meaning that with Explorer's default settings, you won't be able to see or find them. To view hidden files, select Folder Options from Explorer's View menu, choose the View tab, select the Show all files option, and click OK.


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