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Best Windows Registry Books

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Generally the Registry editing is considered "black art" has inspired a number of books.   Microsoft's refusal to supply information about the correct settings in the registry. Certainly, more damage has and will be done because of lack of knowledge than because of too much information.

The Windows Registry is a database integrating ini files information that was present in the earlier windows. In Windows 3.xx, SYSTEM.INI and WIN.INI held all the control functions for the operating systems and applications. Essentially, SYSTEM.INI controlled the hardware while WIN.INI controlled the desktop and applications. All changes to drivers, fonts, settings, and preferences would be stored in the .INI files. Any new application that was installed added lines to the .INI files. Additional .INI files that controlled the applications were added by programmers who needed more control than was available because of the limited size of the WIN.INI and SYSTEM.INI files. For example, Microsoft included with Excel a file called EXCEL.INI, which held the options, settings, defaults, and other information critical to making Excel work correctly. Essentially ini files imitated Unix approach: configuration files were falt files editable by a regular editor. This is a very flexible but not scalable approach and with hundreds of applications, database approach look more and more promising. As the number and complexity of applications grew, so did the number of entries to the .INI files and database approach became attractive. but road to hell is paved with good intentions: installators add appropriate setting to the registry during the installation, but they may not clean them properly during the de-installation or upgrade of the product.

All-in-all the Registry became a complex OS-specific database that now deserves special books written about it.

Nikolai Bezroukov

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Microsoft Windows Scripting Self-Paced Learning Guide (Pro-Other)

Microsoft Windows 2000 Registry Handbook

Introductory

Windows 2000 Registry for Dummies

by Glenn E. Weadock, Emily Sherrill Weadock

Price: $16.49
Excellent for beginners and the advanced, May 3, 2001
Reviewer: Daniel L. Benway (Evansville, IN USA) - See all my reviews
Frankly, with my background and credentials I was embarrassed when I bought this (a "Dummies") book. Simply put, I bought it because I was sick to death of knowing absolutely nothing about the Registry (as in *ABSOLUTELY NOTHING*) and I was sick to death of those other infernal Registry books that are six centimeters thick!

Having read Mr. Weadock's book very thoroughly cover to cover, I'm now completely familiar with the MS Registry editors, how to use multiple methods to backup and restore the entire Registry (or just parts of it), and the layout and organization of the Registry. I'm now able to do things to my W2K (and NT4) machines that can only be accomplished by editing the Registry... things that have been eluding me for over two years! I'm also finding that I now know more about the Registry and the MS editors than even my most skilled colleagues.

Please, don't be afraid of this book. It's an easy and pleasant read. But also, please don't underestimate this book... it taught me enough that I've actually put a seasoned veteran or two to shame.

Daniel L. Benway - Systems Engineer / Administrator - BS/CS, MCSE (NT4), CCNA (2.0), Network+, CLP (AD R4)

Windows 2000 Registry Little Black Book, 2nd Ed.

by Nathan Wallace, Anthony Sequeira

Reviewer: Wallace V. French III (Boston MA) - (REAL NAME)
These "Little Black Books" are published by the same people as the Exam Cram books and they are very useful. I've got this one along with the Reducing TCO book. Both have come in handy for me. I recently got this Registry book out to figure out an authentication problem we are having on our network. I didn't find anything to fix our problem, but I ended up reading the Sys Admin and TCP/IP section and found a lot of good useful info in there. These books are set up for ease of use. The chapters are tabbed in black so you can find what you are looking for real fast. The Index is very comprehensive and it is easy to look stuff up. It has a quick reference pull-out sheet like the Exam Cram books have. The second edition has some updated information and an expanded index. We should probably be seeing a third edition soon. A third edition or a new one for Windows 2003. This is a useful tool for 2k Sys Admin types and OS power users.

Windows XP Registry A Complete Guide to Customizing and Optimizing Windows XP

by Olga Kokoreva

Mastering Windows XP Registry

by Peter D. Hipson

This is larger and less elementary book. Closer to intermediate level. Still might be useful for beginnings.


Advanced

Microsoft Windows XP Registry Guide by Jerry Honeycutt,

Managing the Windows 2000 Registry

Fun for all levels, February 15, 2002
Reviewer: Jase T. Wolfe (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)
Regardless of your experience with the registry, this book can be of value to you. Despite the title, there are references in almost every section of the book on the Windows NT 4 registry, which can be helpful if you are working in a mixed environment or are coming from the NT 4 side of things.

The author starts the book by assuming you have no previous experience with the registry, and takes you on a 5 chapter tour, covering topics such as the history of the registry, how to navigate, what each part does, how to back it up and restore it, the different editors you can use, etc. From there, the book progresses for a couple of chapters on configuring policies - using the Policy Editor and GPO/OU policies within Windows 2000.

The author does include a surprising chapter in the middle entitled "Programming with the Registry" (Chapter 8) in which he covers many of the API calls for the registry and the Shell Utility, and then gives demos in C/C++, Perl and Visual Basic. My personal opinion is that that chapter is a little advanced for the book as a whole, but if you're not into it, it can be skipped without much loss to you.

The book also spends 2 chapters covering administration and tweaks (plus a great index section on the Group Policy Objects), and the final chapter documents what each hive in the registry does.

All in all, it's worth a read.


Random Findings

Windows 98 Registry Little Black Book The Essential Daily Guide to Cracking the PC Code and Personalizing a Computer

by Greg Holden

Inside the Microsoft Windows 98 Registry (Microsoft Programming)

by Guenther Born

Great place to start to learn to hack the Registry, December 6, 2000
Reviewer: Edward Hume (Princeton, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
I'd like to add my voice to the cumulative opinion that this is an excellent book for those who are first learning to delve into the registry. Mr. Born's explanations are clear, and he always gives several different ways to do everything. He shows the tradeoffs involved in doing something one way vs. another. I found the chapters on the Registry in Windows 9x Resource Kit, Expert Guide to Windows 9x, Mastering Windows 9x and Windows 9x Unleashed just did not teach me eonugh to know what I was looking at. Inside the Windows 9x Registry has done that. It even covers elementary .inf file programming. Helpful resources in appendices and tables explain cryptic commands; even the Shell32.dll icons are explained. One limit on my opinion: I have not read other books on the Registry, so I can't compare this book to those.



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