Setting and updating of system components v1 1 2

The Windows Registry is a hierarchical database that stores low-level settings for the Microsoft Windows operating system and for applications that opt to use the Registry.

If two processes attempt to update the same Registry value at the same time, one process's change will precede the other's and the overall consistency of the data will be maintained. INI files, such race conditions can result in inconsistent data that does not match either attempted update.

Windows Vista and later operating systems provide transactional updates to the Registry by means of the Kernel Transaction Manager, extending the atomicity guarantees across multiple key and/or value changes, with traditional commit–abort semantics.

(Note however that NTFS provides such support for the file system as well, so the same guarantees could, in theory, be obtained with traditional configuration files.) The Registry contains two basic elements: keys and values.

Windows 95 and Windows NT extended its use to rationalise and centralise the information in the profusion of INI files, which held the configurations for individual programs, and were stored at various locations.

It is not a requirement for Windows applications to use the Windows Registry. NET Framework applications use XML files for configuration, while portable applications usually keep their configuration files with their executable. INI files stored each program's settings as a text file, often located in a shared location that did not provide user-specific settings in a multi-user scenario.

By contrast, the Windows Registry stores all application settings in one logical repository (but a number of discrete files) and in a standardized form.According to Microsoft this offers several advantages over . Since file parsing is done much more efficiently with a binary format, it may be read from or written to more quickly than an INI file.As well, strongly typed data can be stored in the Registry, as opposed to the text information stored in . This is a benefit when editing keys manually using , the built-in Windows Registry editor.Because user-based Registry settings are loaded from a user-specific path rather than from a read-only system location, the Registry allows multiple users to share the same machine, and also allows programs to work for less privileged users.Backup and restoration is also simplified as the Registry can be accessed over a network connection for remote management/support, including from scripts, using the standard set of APIs, as long as the Remote Registry service is running and firewall rules permit this.Because the Registry is a database, it offers improved system integrity with features such as atomic updates.

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