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Registry Problems (New 29-Sep-01)
The Windows Registry is critical to the proper opereation of a Windows-based PC. It contains information about all aspects of your system.
Over time, the registry will likely contain incorrect entries. Recently, Microsoft stopped making the regclean utility available. (The regclean utility is in some Windows Resource Kits. Scroll down to Regclean on this Microsoft page for a description of what it does.)
Windows 98 and Me operating systems come with a utility - scanreg - that may help with registry problems. The procedure for running it is different for Win98 / Me:
WinMe - Start -> Run -> type scanreg /fix.
Win98 - You must boot the computer with DOS. After power-on, but before Windows starts to load, press F8 which will bring start-up menu. Select DOS command line. When computer boots to DOS prompt, type scanreg /fix. After the registry is rebuilt, you are returned to a command prompt. Power off computer, and re-boot as normal.
It is always a good idea to make a backup of the registry before attempting a fix; and, to backup regularly; and, to backup before installing new hardware or software.
All Windows versions also come with a Registry Editor (regedit) which allows you to inspect and modify the registry. This ability should be used with care: making incorrect changes to the registry can result in a system that will not function properly.