I'm not a big fan of Registry editing as a management tool, but I realize I'm in the minority among systems administrators. Articles that include tips about Registry editing are some of the most popular in Windows NT Magazine, so I've decided to go with the flow.
Although regedit and regedt32 let you alter the contents of the Registry adequately, I'd like to suggest an inexpensive utility that can not only simplify your Registry adventures but help protect you from yourself. Resplendence Software Projects' Resplendent Registrar 1.01 lets you edit the Registry any way you like. The utility also provides built-in tools to back up the Registry and monitor the Registry changes that you or your applications make.
To install Resplendent Registrar, I simply ran the self-extracting archive file. Screen 1 shows the software's main screen. After the utility was up and running, I launched the Registry Activity Monitor. This tool tracks Registry activity and lets you keep a log of your Registry editing. I configured the tool to watch the entire Registry, but you can set it up to watch specific hives or individual keys. Next, I clicked Registry Backup and Restore. A pop-up screen informed me that the application would have to stop the Registry Activity Monitor. I approved the action and launched the backup. On my heavily loaded machine, which holds dozens of installed applications, the backup took less than 20 seconds. After the backup completed, I had to manually restart the Registry Activity Monitor.
With a current backup in hand, I felt more comfortable playing around in the Registry. I found a couple of popular Registry tweaks (e.g., custom logon screens) in some Windows NT Magazine back issues. After ensuring that the tweaks worked on my test machine, I launched the remote Registry feature. Then, I used basic copy operations to effect my Registry changes on two other test workstations on my network. Each remote Registry opens in a separate window, so making the changes was simple. Unfortunately, the Registry Activity Monitor and Registry Backup and Restore features work on only the machine on which you install Resplendent Registrar. I visited each target machine and confirmed that Resplendent Registrar had accurately effected the changes.
I didn't want to retain the Registry changes I made on my workstation, so I used the Restore Registry function to return the Registry to its pretest state. This action overwrites the current Registry with the selected backup, then prompts you to restart the system.
Although I didn't need to use the application's Help information, almost every screen offers a Help button that launches a browser window containing information about the current action. You need to understand the Registry before you start making changes, but the Help information the software provides is sufficient for beginners.
Because the company upgraded the software to version 1.01 during my testing, I was able to test the utility's automated update feature. When I selected Check for Later Version on the Help menu, the software searched the company's Web site and discovered the version 1.01 update, then prompted me to click Update to download the new version.
If you feel you must regularly edit your Registry, or if you're simply interested in a reliable backup-and-restore mechanism, Resplendent Registrar is an inexpensive guarantee that you can do your exploring safely and easily.
|Resplendent Registrar 1.01|
Contact: Resplendence Software Projects * (31) (20) 486-6128
System Requirements: x86 processor or better, Windows 2000, Windows NT, or Windows 9x, 2.5MB of hard disk space