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Understanding Windows Vista: Removing Registry Entries

written by: Ashwin Satyanarayana•edited by: Christian Cawley•updated: 5/11/2009

Did you ever touch the registry? I wouldn't do that even if my life depended on it. But still, sometimes, you just have to know. We can't be relying on the IT folks all the time, can we? So how do we tweak the registry, at least from a security standpoint and remove stuff we don't need? Read on:

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    The windows registry is almost the “demilitarized” zone for most windows users. They wouldn’t go anywhere near it, even if their lives were to depend on it. In fact, I hate to do anything with it, myself. Here are, however, a few things you have to know before you throw your hands up in indignation.

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    Removing Spyware from the Windows Registry

    Spyware is malevolent software which will automatically install itself in the system without our permission and it will also monitor our actions. For example: the spyware will ascertain our frequently visited websites and will send the list back to the system base or will try to glean some information about your credit card numbers or passwords. This spyware can be removed by using the Spybot Search and Destroy tool.

    Some of the more determined parts of spyware should be removed manually. Most of the spyware will install themselves in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINES\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version\Run Key. We can find many spyware in this part of the system. Windows should be restarted after the entries have been deleted. The actual spyware will be deleted by deleting any of the identically executable files in the system. After this is done, we have to use another method to check weather the spyware hasn’t reinstalled the register entry. If spyware has done this, then we can search for information online on how we can remove the spyware from the system.

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    Changing Windows Name and Organization

    The organization or the name, which will come into view on the General Page of the Properties dialog box present in the system may need to be changed. When there is a misspelling of your name or the organization name during the setup, or if the processor has been loaded with windows from somebody else, then there will be a need of changing the organization’s name or the user name in the system. The changes cannot be made by using the windows interface, but this can be done by navigating to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINES\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version\Run Key and by changing the Register Organization and Register Owner values entries in system register. This problem can be fixed in a minute or two in the processor by using the above key.

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    Changing the Folder \Program Files

    The installation of programs to the user \folder\program files from Windows installation routine can be prevented. For example, when the user will be running out of space on system drivers which will hold the folders and files, we can change the location of these folders and Program Files by navigating to the HKEY_LOCATION_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion subkey and altering the Program Files Directories value entry to the suitable folder and drive. The system has to be restarted by making some changes which will take effect, and then we have to install the program by running the installation routine process. The Program File Directories value entry will be back to its normal value, if the user will want to install the potential programs in the folder\Program Files.

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    Using Registry Favorites to Access Keys

    If the registry is used a lot by the user, then another feature called ‘Register favourite’ should be known to the user. Here are the steps you need to take to create a favourite:

    • The key has to be selected, to which the favourite has to refer.

    • The Favourites dialog box will be displayed by Register edit tool, when we select Favourite Add to Favourite.

    • The name for the favourite has to be entered in the Favourite name text box.

    • The OK button has to be selected. Then the Favourite menu will be created.