The registry in Windows 2000 and later comprises a handful of files that, when combined together, store the majority of settings that define the way Windows looks and functions. Windows reads from these individual files at startup and logon to create the registry that you see when you work with the Registry Editor.
The registry contains numerous keys, subkeys, and values. It can be a bewildering place for someone without much knowledge of how the registry works or what part each key plays. You could learn about the registry simply by browsing through it, but that approach would take quite some time to provide much useful information.
If you have the Windows 2000 Resource Kit installed, you have access to a much better tool for learning about the registry. Go to Start | Programs | Windows 2000 Resource Kit | Documentation | Registry Reference to open a Help document that not only explains what the registry is and how it works, but also offers an extensive list of keys, subkeys, and values you'll find in the registry. What's more, the Help file describes the association between specific registry values and features, and also explains how to configure settings through the GUI (such as the Control Panel) to set the registry settings indirectly.
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