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Windows 7: Win7 registry vs. XP registry


29 May 2012   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64bit
 
 
Win7 registry vs. XP registry

A friend is going to purchase a Windows 7 machine soon and give me his old XP machine. I plan to use this gift as an opportunity to learn the registry on a (sacrificial) test machine. If things go foul, I can bulldoze the XP machine and do a fresh install without compromising the other computers in the house.

Are there significant differences in the Windows 7 registry and the XP registry which I should be aware of, or are they similar enough to make what I learn on the XP machine useful on a Windows 7 machine?

Are there any pitfalls I need to be aware of?

drpepper

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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29 May 2012   #2

XP / Win7 x64 Pro
 
 

There are certainly changes in the registry structure and where things are stored from XP to Vista/7. Some are significant and some are subtle. Much of what you learn from the XP registry you will be able to carry over to Win 7, particularly if you learn the ideas and methodology behind where/when things are stored and not just memorize the particular locations where they are stored.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2012   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

Unless you are a developer (and even then, rare), there's no real reason to learn or play around with the registry.

That being said, if you still feel like spending time on it, load up XP in a VM on your primary system and play around with it there. Once you have a VM configured, back up the files. This way, anytime you bork the XP install, all you have to do is spend a couple of minutes restoring those files.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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29 May 2012   #4

XP / Win7 x64 Pro
 
 

Forensics, malware analysis, and hardware/software troubleshooting are all uses for knowing the registry as well.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2012   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

I do the last two of yours on a near daily basis without ever entering the registry. It's been years since I've had to manually change/edit anything in the registry.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2012   #6

XP / Win7 x64 Pro
 
 

No ones talking about changing or editing the registry. The OP is talking about learning and understanding it, which is very valuable in various situations as already desscribed. As someone who does malware analysis and reverse engineering, you're missing a great deal of value if you're not addressing registry at all for malware analysis. I do all 3 and the registry is used extensively for the first two and on occasion for the third.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2012   #7

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

I'm an IT Admin/Director, so I don't do any reverse engineering, but I still can say I haven't had to enter the registry in years. I'd so this goes double for a typical home user. I generally advise people to stay away from the registry completely.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2012   #8

XP / Win7 x64 Pro
 
 

I would advise the average home user to stay away from messing with the registry as well. However, depending on what it will be used for, taking the time to understand it and how it works isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'd much rather someone be interested in this than just asking what specific keys they can change to remove their file history, etc.

Windows Forensic Analysis by Harlan Carvey is an excellent resource for learning and understanding the Windows registry. He's one of the pioneers of registry analysis on various Windows platforms for forensics and he provides very in-depth explanations of where things are and how/why Windows uses them.

http://www.amazon.com/Windows-Forens.../dp/159749156X
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2012   #9

Windows 7 x64 Ultimate
 
 

One large difference between the two is the default permissions. On XP you can change, insert, delete almost anything almost anywhere. The opposite is true on 7. Though you can change the permissions on a key then change it then put the permissions back as needed...

Structure wise, most of it is the same.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2012   #10

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64bit
 
 

Thanks for all the replies. I look forward to more ... Maybe a little bit about me will explain my desire to learn the registry. Please don't read anything negative into this post. I am merely explaining my mindset and passion for learning.

I am a hot rodder from the 1960s and 1970s who can no longer afford the high price of going fast. The engineering mindset of how does it work, why does it work, can it be modified, what are the limiting factors is what made my hot rods fast, reliable, and as safe as possible for the speeds I was driving still lives inside of me. Computers open a whole new world of the how does it work, etc.

In historical perspective I applaud the conquests of some past achievements in computers. What would have happened if David Wheeler had not designed the first stored computer program (1948)? How about Dennis Ritchie's desire to replace Assembly Language with something portable (the C programming language) to deploy operating systems (1970s)? Why did Bjarne Stroustrup decide to write a better C language (C++, released 1985)?

I am not foolish enough to believe that I will be the next innovator and not pessimistic enough to complete divorce the thought of the possibility from my mind. I can go a long way toward satisfying my incurably curious mind by learning the nuts and bolts of PCs and the Windows Operating Systems.

Maybe I can learn how to safely modify my own machine or those owned by others, and maybe not. Maybe I can develop something neat with marketability, and maybe not. I will most certainly lose nothing by learning on a test machine which will leave the other computers here at home unmolested by my efforts and mistakes which are sure to accompany the learning process.

I truly appreciate the replies and understand them from the perspective of the various authors. My perspective is somewhat different as explained above.

More replies are welcome and anticipated with relish.

drpepper
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Win7 registry vs. XP registry




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