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Chapter 6. Working with the Windows Regi... > Secrets of the Windows Masters: Dete...

Secrets of the Windows Masters: Detecting Changes to the Registry

One of the most frustrating tasks for a would-be Windows power user is figuring out which changes a Setup program makes to the Registry. With a few simple commands, however, you can produce a concise report showing every such change. The trick is to use Registry Editor's Export feature to take a "snapshot" of the Registry before and after you make a change. By saving the results to two text files and comparing the differences using the MS-DOS FC (File Compare) command, you can see at a glance what happened. In the event of a problem, this gives you a great troubleshooting tool. Follow these steps:

  1. Before installing a new program, export your entire Registry to a text file. Open Registry Editor and choose Registry, Export Registry File. Use the All option, and save the resulting file as Before.txt. (Do not use the REG extension!)

  2. Install the new program or make any other changes you want to track.

  3. Open Registry Editor and export your entire Registry again, this time sending the output to a text file called After.txt.

  4. Open an MS-DOS prompt window, change to the directory where you saved the two text files, and issue this command:

    FC Before.txt After.txt > Diff.txt
  5. Close the DOS window and open Diff.txt in Notepad. It will show you all the places in the Registry where it found differences.



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