A windows registry is really just a big database of records, to put it simply. Every hardware and software configuration and setting on your machine is stored in this database. It has a hierarchical organizational structure and thousands of entries are possible.
When your computer is brand-new, you often won’t need to repair or clear the Windows registry. However, depending on how often you use your computer, you might need to perform some registry cleaning to get rid of unused and outdated data.
The installation of new hardware and software programs on the computer is the main reason why the windows registry expands in size. Even a basic internet explorer plugin like flash or quicktime leaves a record in the Windows registry.
Some software applications and drivers fail to delete the relevant entries from the Windows registry when they are removed. They thereafter become out-of-date and occupy RAM on your computer.
I advise against manually cleaning the windows registry unless you are experienced because it contains thousands of entries that can be confusing and occasionally unreadable.
I recommend using a registry cleaner to do the job such as error doctor as it do it faster than a human can.
Nevertheless, whether you are cleaning the windows registry manually or using a software, you must back up the registry first before cleaning. It is actually a good idea to backup the windows registry periodically, the same thing you do with your backup.
To backup your registry in windows XP/2000, click on ‘start’, click on ‘run’ and type in ‘regedit’. The windows registry will open. Then click on ‘File’ and select ‘Export’. Another windows will open and you can specify the name and the location to save the registry.
There are 2 important points to note here. Make sure the file type is set to ‘Registration Files (*.reg)’. You do not want to want to save as txt as you will not be able to import the registry file in the event that your windows registry is corrupted.
The second point is to click on the radio button ‘All’ in the export range options at the bottom of the windows. You want to backup the entire registry file, not just part of it.
It is also recommended you backup the registry file to another computer or to a diskette or CD. Sometimes when the windows registry is corrupted, you may not be able to boot into windows at all.
The windows registry is one of the most critical files on your computer, so make sure you backup a copy and only edit or remove an entry in the registry if you know what you are doing.