Managing the Registry

Microsoft® Windows® 2000 Scripting Guide

Most of the time, managing the registry involves little more than backing it up on a regular basis. Although the registry is constantly being accessed and modified, both the Windows operating system and Windows applications typically take care of these activities for you; you will rarely need to directly manipulate the contents of the registry.

However, you might need to occasionally work directly with the contents of the registry: reading, changing, creating, enumerating, and deleting entries and subkeys. This is due to the fact that the registry stores important configuration information that affects so many components of Windows itself (as well as applications and services running under Windows). For example:

  • You might read a Knowledge Base article that describes how changing a registry entry can provide a solution to a problem you have encountered.

  • You might know that a certain application you uninstalled left behind a number of registry entries, and you would like to delete those entries, and for a large number of computers.

  • You might be working with support personnel, and they ask you to find out the value of a registry entry or to determine whether or not a certain subkey exists.

  • You might have learned a great deal about how a certain component of Windows works, and you want to optimize the configuration of this component. As it turns out, you can do this only by modifying the values of its registry entries.

  • You have been informed by an application vendor that you need to change a certain registry entry to improve performance of the application on your particular system.

Do not try to memorize configuration settings stored in the registry. Instead, try to develop a sense for the types of things that you can expect to manage by modifying values in the registry. The best sources of information about registry settings are: the Resource Kit Registry Reference, MSDN® Web site, and Knowledge Base articles. Although many third-party sources provide information about the registry, do not rely on the accuracy of third-party information when it comes to the registry. If you find a registry entry referenced in a third-party source, try to verify the information provided by consulting the Resource Kit Registry Reference or another source available from Microsoft.


  • Changing the registry with a script can easily propagate errors. The scripting tools bypass safeguards, allowing settings that can damage your system, or even require you to reinstall Windows. Before scripting changes to the registry, test your script thoroughly and back up the registry on every computer on which you will make changes. For more information about scripting changes to the registry, see the Registry Reference on the Windows 2000 Server Resource Kit companion CD or at