The Windows registry is a table of contents for all hardware, software, device drivers, and other resources on your Windows XP system. It controls the programs that load during system startup, tells applications how to function, controls the look and feel of your operating system and all application installed on it, and performs many other important tasks. In other words, the registry is the heart and soul of your XP system and if something goes awry with it, your entire system may turn into a useless piece of digital junk.
There are several things that might lead to registry problems. Some you can prevent from happening and some you cannot. Whatever the reason may be, a registry fix is possible in 90% of cases.
One of the most common causes of registry errors is improper system shutdown—due to a system crash or problems such as power failure—that can cause severe damage to the registry. When your system is operational, the registry of your Windows system is stored in the memory to ensure quick access. Any changes to the registry during system operation are written back to the hard disk when the system is shutdown. Improper shutdown interrupts this process, thereby leaving incorrect entries in the registry or damaging its files.
In addition, interrupted software installation and uninstallations, outdated driver entries, incorrect shared DLLs, incorrect file and program associations, and malicious entry or code by malware are also a few of the common causes of registry problems. Not all registry errors display error messages or stall your system. They usually work like slow poison, affecting your system in a subtle way. You may feel a general slow-down of your system and maybe have problems running certain applications and using certain hardware devices that have incorrect entries in the registry.
Performing Registry Fixes
Let’s now discuss the steps you can follow to fix registry errors caused by some common issues.
Uninstall and Reinstall Applications
If you think a new hardware driver or application is the cause behind an error, then to perform a registry fix, first uninstall the driver or application, reboot your PC, and then reinstall the software. Try to follow correct procedure to uninstall the application—from the Control Panel choose the Add Remove Programs option—otherwise, you may end up leaving more orphan and corrupt entries in the registry. If your PC refuses to boot normally, then restart it in Safe Mode by hitting the F8 key at boot-up.
Use a Reliable Registry Fix or Cleaner Utility
The majority of the time registry errors occur due to a large number of outdated, redundant, and invalid entries in the registry. All this junk severely damages the registry, resulting in the slowing down of your PC and frequent system errors and crashes.
To weed out these errors from the registry and repair them, you can download a registry fix utility from the Internet. A good registry fix program helps you run a comprehensive scan on the registry and eliminate errors from it. The utilities also enable you to perform a number of other registry maintenance tasks such as defragment the registry, create backups, control Internet Explorer BHOs, manage system startup programs, and much more.
Your Windows ME and Windows XP systems come equipped with a System Restore feature. This feature enables your operating system to take regular snapshots of your system—including the registry—to enable you to rollback your system to a prior working state in case of a failure. To start the System Restore process, run the Start>All Programs>Accessories>System Tools>System Restore command. In the displayed System Restore window, select the ‘Restore my computer to an earlier time’ option and select Next. Now, from the displayed calendar, select a restore point and proceed further to roll back your system settings to the selected restore point.
System restore only rollbacks your system settings and does not affect data such as files, folders, and emails.
The registry is a vital component of your Windows system. To keep it in a healthy state you need to be a vigilant user and avoid performing actions that can damage the registry. You must follow proper install/uninstall procedures and avoid installing programs from sources that are suspicious. You can use a registry fix utility to run regular maintenance activities on your system. Remember, a healthy and compact registry helps your PC operate at its best over a long period of time.