Maybe I’m beating a dead horse here, but Windows has a pretty big Achilles’ heel. In fact it’s so big, that it’s probably an Achilles’ foot or leg. And of course, the problem I’m referring to is the Windows Registry. As much as I would like to rant and gripe about why Microsoft should take out the Registry, I’ll limit it to an informative discussion of what the Registry is, and why it’s such problem, for those of you that don’t already know.
First of all, the Windows registry is, quite simply, a database. It contains several stored settings from the operating system, to applications, to hardware that the computer uses. Now on first glance this seems like a great idea because all of your settings are saved in one place and can easily be edited or deleted as needed. The registry determines what programs start when your computer starts, saves several default settings so you don’t have to constantly re-enter them, and unlike its predecessor, gathers all of this info in one place.
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It sounds good in theory, and that's why it was originally put in place. But here’s a short list of the bad and downright harmful aspects of the Windows Registry:
1) It slows down your computer at startup. Many applications get into the startup unintentionally, either because you don’t notice a checkbox when you’re installing the program or because the program automatically includes itself. The list grows and grows and your startup becomes slower and slower.
2) It’s a stockpile of junk. There is a lot of useless application data in the registry for applications you never use or settings you don’t even care about. This makes the registry impossibly hard to navigate unless you know exactly what you’re looking for and where it is.
3) Spyware and Viruses! Spyware does a load of bad things to your computer through the registry. For one, the spyware starts itself through the registry so you don’t even have to open a file for the spyware to launch. Long gone are the days where you actually had to open a bad email attachment or download a virus from a random site on the internet and, subsequently, open it.
4) Spyware automatically starts up when your computer starts up. This makes it easier for the spyware to get access to your computer, and it also makes it harder to get rid of because if the registry files aren’t deleted properly, then the spyware regenerates even when you think it's gone.
5) Spyware and viruses shut down important applications through the registry. One of the biggest is the Task Manager (the savior of Windows, ctrl + alt + del), and some even go as far as to remove all of your icons. Not only does this make your life an utter pain, but it makes it extremely hard to get rid of spyware.
So, in short, if spyware has been a problem in your life, or you really don’t want it to be a problem you face in the future, thank twice about buying a Windows laptop. Nowadays, spyware can infect your computer from something as simple as an internet search for a recipe for flan, so you can never be too careful or too informed.