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Chapter 32. The Registry > How the Registry Is Organized

How the Registry Is Organized

The Registry leaves the plain text files of AUTOEXEC.BAT and WIN.INI far, far behind. It is a specialized database organized a lot like the files and folders on a hard disk. In fact, the Registry Editor navigates through the Registry using the same expandable list display that Windows Explorer uses to display a disk.

Just as a hard disk contains partitions, the Registry contains separate sections called hives. (The reason Microsoft chose the word hive is unclear. It had something to do with busy bees, but more than that, the folks there won’t say.) In each hive is a list of named keys that correspond to the folders on a hard disk. Just as a file folder can contain files and yet more folders, a Registry key can contain values, which hold information such as numbers or text strings, and yet more keys. Even the naming of file folders and keys are similar: A folder might be named \Documents and Settings\brian\chapter32, and a Registry key might be named \HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft. Let’s look at the Registry starting with its top-level keys.


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