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Basic Windows Registry Glossary

Even when you have the services of an excellent Windows registry cleaner at your disposal, it is nonetheless of the utmost importance that you understand what that registry cleaner is doing to your computer. In order to get the maximum effective use out of your registry cleaner, it helps greatly to know a bit of the vocabulary used in building and editing your Windows registry.


The following are definitions of 11 basic terms youíll want to know to before you start messing with your registry so that you can conduct proper and effective registry cleaning and repairs.


Active X Objects: These are visual controls that web pages and software programs use to share and reuse various common functionalities. Using something called COM technology, a web browser can automatically download, install, and execute Active X components onto your computer. A familiar example of an Active X Object is Macromedia Flash Player.


Content Type: These are registry values that are stored in your Windows registryís file extension registry records for the purpose of  enabling Internet Explorer to properly handle any and all files it receives off the web.


Control Set: This is a full set of all the configuration data Windows requires to start any devices or system services. The registry always maintains at least 2 control sets at all times - CURRENTCONTROLSET and LASTKNOWNGOODCONTROLSET. The CurrentControlSet is the one used to start the system most recently. All the designations for the systemís control sets are stored in the Select subkey.


DLL File: Stands for Dynamic Linked Library. This is a code repository that stores all the functions required for your computer to run each program installed. Upon starting any program, it is to the DLL library that Windows refers in order to load and execute the program file in question.


File Extension Record: These are used to associate a specific file extension with a particular piece of installed software. For example, a file with the extension .DOC is usually read as a Microsoft Word document.


File System Cache: This is a select area of your computerís memory reserved for storing frequently used pages, allowing for quicker and easier retrieval with less disk activity.


File Type Record: For every particular type of file, the file type record will specify the name, its default icon, and the related shell commands. Each file type is then referred to by the File Extension Record (explained above).


GUID: This stands for Globally Unique Identifier and is an integer number made of 128-bits that is stored in the registry and 100% guaranteed to be unique throughout the entire world.


Hives: These are the fundamental divisions for all information contained in the Windows registry, and comprise its essential organizational structure. Hives are sections into which all registry Keys and Values (see below) are logically organized.


Key: One of the two primary components of a Windows registry, a Key is any folder that shows up in the left portion of the window. A Key may contain one or more Subkeys as well as entries. An example of a Key and its sub keys is HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/Windows. The words in ALL CAPS comprise the Key, and those that follow are its Subkeys.


Values: The other primary component of a Windows registry. Stored with the keys are name-data pairs known as Values.  Values are referenced independently of keys and separately from them.


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