Bad Words: “Windows Registry”


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UPDATE: 20-JAN-2017

While composing a rough draft of thoughts, it appears I accidentally published this to the web.  I know, I know.  “I’ve lost the element of surprise.  I was careless.  The Earth did not end” – and so forth.  I suppose now all there is to do is state my case about the Windows Registry in this manner:


Sorry, Ben.  It just seems fitting.

“Thems fightin’ words…”

Even among diehard Windows fans, it is amazing to hear an entire office become an arid, dry, soundless wasteland as soon as someone mentions a anything related to “Windows Registry”.

No joke there.

In fact, just listen in the next time someone drops those two words out loud.  Sit back and watch everyone put their coffee down, disconnect from clients, and slowly turn towards the source of such profanity.  It is just a tension builder due to its intended purposes, misuse, and refusal to shrink that drives admins crazy.

What happened?

For myself, this is the single question that keeps my angst alive.  I tried to run a line count – per root node using reg – but I got tired of waiting.  Between  %USERPROFILE%\NTUSER.DAT and %windir%\System32\config, it “claims” the registry hives are only using 15 megabytes of space.  I am certain between portions in-memory and what is being used by programs that have free access to the registry, it is much larger.

Think back to Windows 3.11 -a mere graphical MS-DOS application in reality – as this is when the Windows Registry was introduced to us.  I can understand why with the addition of user accounts to the shell, but it was good enough in my own opinion.


Don’t just take my word for it – check out the following MSDN blog regarding the registry as we barely were aware of it underneath the Windows 3.11’s box of boxes:

Now today: oh, it is just another form of temp space for lazy programs; a graveyard of bytes even after programs have been uninstalled.  It is even referred to as a database – which is sort of not fine, but okay – however, if it gets corrupted, you are up the creek.

In Summary…

The Windows Registry as we know it today – along with the page file – quite simply kill performance on both virtual and physical hardware.  The longer a system is used, the larger the registry becomes.  And, per the article from MSDN above, anyone can see it has evolved into a beast within itself.

Do you back it up?  How often?  How can we prune it safely?  Etc, etc.

It is as if it was designed so just so an industry of “malware laden” products could be downloaded for ad-revenue under the guise that “it will clean up your registry and defrag it!”

Wow.  Tell that to autoexec.bat and config.sys.

— JK Benedict | @xenfomation



One thought on “Bad Words: “Windows Registry”

  1. Mark Benedict

    Amazing how long we survived without a Registry – how did we manage to survive without a hearty, robust, full-featured single point bottleneck all those years is way beyond my ken. I’ll leave it to future archaeologists to suss out. Not to mention all those decades we just sat around with a registry editor and nothing to use it on until Windows 59 (dyslexic edition) came along.

    Liked by 1 person

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