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Registry Tutorial - Part 3

Making Registry Edits Take Effect

In order for some Registry tweaks to take effect, you'll have to close the Registry and reboot your computer. Other Registry edits will take effect as soon as you close the Registry -- no reboot required. Other Registry edits only require refreshing the Desktop, which you can do by pressing the F5 key while looking at your Windows Desktop. Presto, refresho!

Saving and Restoring Individual Keys

You can save and restore individual Registry keys by selecting (highlighting) them before exporting and importing. BE AWARE, however, that the Registry Exporter and Importer is something less than perfect, especially in Windows 95. So don't rely on them exclusively.

To back up a portion of the Registry, launch the Registry Editor by clicking Start > Run, then type in "regedit" (without the quotes). Click OK to open the Registry Editor.

In the left-hand pane, navigate to the key or branch of the Registry that you want to back up. Right-click your selection and choose Export.

Enter a name and location that you will remember, then click Save.

To later restore that part of the Registry, all you need to do is double-click the file that you just saved, and the information will automatically be restored to its original location.

CAUTION: When you back up in this manner, the Export Range is set to "Selected Branch" by default, but if you change it to "All," the entire Registry will be backed up.

Be sure "All" is NOT selected for a partial restoration because it will overwrite the entire Registry, not just the selected portion. And if you do overwrite the entire Registry, break out the Prozac. At that point you would be well advised to take your computer to a reputable repair facility in your area, confess your digital sins, and plead for forgiveness

Additional Precautions

It wouldn't be a bad idea every now and then to copy the .dat files to a removable disk (floppy or Zip, for example), and keep it in a save place. I use for online storage of critical files. Storing files on the Internet allows me to access them from anywhere in the world, as long as I have Internet access.)

After backing up your .dat files, if disaster strikes and your Registry is so fouled up that even the usual restoration methods fail, you can always copy your backed up .dat files back onto your system and reboot.

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Searching the Registry

If you need to search your Registry for items that might apply to a particular feature of Windows or installed software that you want to change, follow these steps:

With the Registry Editor open, click File > Find (or press the Ctrl + F keys simultaneously). In the Find What field, type in what you're searching for, though I would avoid phrases like "world peace" and stick to computer-related items.

In the Look At section, check off whether you want to search the Keys, Values, or Data, or any combination of these.

Click on Find Next and wait while it searches. If your search yields a result, you may want to check to see if there are any additional references, so under the File menu, click Find Next, or just hit the F3 key to continue the search.

Why Search the Registry?

Let's say you want to rename the Recycle Bin, but you can't remember where the name is buried in the Registry. Launch a Registry Search, and search on Data, because you know it's only the name (the data) you want to change.

Even if you find data references to the Recycle Bin, make sure you edit the correct one. Other system software or applications may make references to the Recycle Bin so you don't want to change their values. But even if you make a mistake, as long as you have backed up your Registry before attempting any edits (as I mentioned at the outset), you'll be able to restore the Registry and be back in action, faster than you can empty the Refuse Removal Canister (formerly known as Recycle Bin.)

Happy Registry editing!

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