Windows Registry

matsuya

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What are the advantages/disadvantages of using a registry vs. OSX's plist? Those who don't like Microsoft OS's bring up this point that having a registry is one of the main reasons that it isn't a good OS.
 

devil22

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I'm not familiar with OS X's plist, but compared to text config files, the registry is:
1. fast, because it can store binary information
2. easy to centrally manage
3. more organized, without config files scattered throughout the filesystem with arbitrary formats.
4. easy to program for, since you don't need a text file parser (although you could probably just use a library with text files)

People like to say that the registry is unreliable, but with transactional registry APIs added in Vista I don't think it's true now, if it ever was. The registry should be as reliable as a file system, sure you can screw up the registry, but it's just as easy to screw up the file system, imo. Was there any specific reasons you heard the registry isn't good?
 

bigdogchris

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I've never had a problem with Windows having a registry. Quite frankly, 99% of people who use computers have no reason to ever even open it up, so how can you fault an OS for having it if most people will never see it?
 

matsuya

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I'm not familiar with OS X's plist, but compared to text config files, the registry is:
1. fast, because it can store binary information
2. easy to centrally manage
3. more organized, without config files scattered throughout the filesystem with arbitrary formats.
4. easy to program for, since you don't need a text file parser (although you could probably just use a library with text files)

People like to say that the registry is unreliable, but with transactional registry APIs added in Vista I don't think it's true now, if it ever was. The registry should be as reliable as a file system, sure you can screw up the registry, but it's just as easy to screw up the file system, imo. Was there any specific reasons you heard the registry isn't good?

Don't want to turn this into a Windows vs OSX debate, but some of those in favor of OSX say that Windows is behind because it uses a registry. Programs in OSX have their own file that has the preferences and doesn't affect other programs. At least that's how I understand it to be.
 

matsuya

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I've never had a problem with Windows having a registry. Quite frankly, 99% of people who use computers have no reason to ever even open it up, so how can you fault an OS for having it if most people will never see it?

Installing/uninstalling programs changes the registry. Over time that can slow down or render Windows inoperable.
 

devil22

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Installing/uninstalling programs changes the registry. Over time that can slow down or render Windows inoperable.

Sure, if the program you install/uninstall writes to random places in the registry, and leaves a bunch of shit in there, but the same will happen if a program in another OS writes to random places on the file system or leaves shit all over the file system. Bottom line is any bad behaving app on any OS is going to cause the same problems, and I've never personally had slow down or registry failure problems, I think the issue gets exaggerated and hyped up by the alternative OS hustlers, personally.

Don't want to turn this into a Windows vs OSX debate, but some of those in favor of OSX say that Windows is behind because it uses a registry. Programs in OSX have their own file that has the preferences and doesn't affect other programs. At least that's how I understand it to be.

How can Windows be 'behind' when it used to do the text config files, and later added a registry. Win 3.1 configuration setup was a nightmare and unscalable. And also, programs in Windows write to their own registry keys and don't affect other programs either, unless they hook into the system in some way, but other OSes have to do that too, they just don't use a binary database for it...
 

bigdogchris

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Installing/uninstalling programs changes the registry. Over time that can slow down or render Windows inoperable.
I've went 3 years on an XP install without issues. Late last year I worked on a computer that had a 2002 install of XP and it ran just fine.

So what's your point?
 

jiminator

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registry is too easy for program to use as a dumping ground for miscellaneous data. and while managing it is centralized it does have the tendency to scatter files on the os and the user folders, so backing it up, or retrieving data from other installs is not a simple operation.
 

matsuya

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Sure, if the program you install/uninstall writes to random places in the registry, and leaves a bunch of shit in there, but the same will happen if a program in another OS writes to random places on the file system or leaves shit all over the file system. Bottom line is any bad behaving app on any OS is going to cause the same problems, and I've never personally had slow down or registry failure problems, I think the issue gets exaggerated and hyped up by the alternative OS hustlers, personally.

I've never had any problems either, but the average user doesn't pay too much attention to what they install.

From what I understand, in OSX when a program is installed, the preferences are in one file and if that gets corrupted, all you do is delete it and when you reopen the program a new preference file is created. So nothing else is affected.
 

devil22

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I've never had any problems either, but the average user don't pay too much attention to what they install.

From what I understand, in OSX when a program is installed, the preferences are in one file and if that gets corrupted, all you do is delete it and when you reopen the program a new preference file is created. So nothing else is affected.

Well you could delete the programs registry keys and the program files folder and reinstall the program. The likelyhood of a program overwriting random registry keys is just as likely as the program overwriting random files in the file system..

Also keep in mind, any program on Windows could easily act the same way as an OS X program, i.e. store it's config in it's program files directory, and recreate that config file if it gets deleted. Most every program chooses not to do this, why do you think that is?
 
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matsuya

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Well you could delete the programs registry keys and the program files folder and reinstall the program. The likelyhood of a program overwriting random registry keys is just as likely as the program overwriting random files in the file system..

I am unfamiliar with OSX's plist so I'm not sure how it handles running programs.
 

matsuya

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Here's a post from a ubuntu forum:
Windows used to use plain text files as well, but the organization was very poor. An application could place it's files anywhere because there weren't good folder permissions. This lead to a very chaotic system; config files would not be deleted when an application was uninstalled, or multiple configuration files with the same name would overwrite one another when placed in the same directory. The registry was supposed to create a very organized method for configuration options. however, there are serious performance problems. While a text file takes up space on a hard drive, it doesn't use much space; this file only needs to be accessed when its program was launched. Consequently, there was no performance impact from having old config files on the system. The registry does not behave like this. Since the entire registry must be read on each boot, it needs to be keep small and organized; however, applications frequently don't cleanly remove their registry "keys", so the system becomes cluttered and slow over time. The Linux system works on Linux because programs can only place files in specific areas, so the oraganization is kept clean and performance remains great because there is no registry database to load and read.
I believe OSX plist works the same way as Linux.
 

phide

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My thoughts on plists...

There are two 'flavors' in OS X currently: XML-based, which are easily editable but large due to their verbosity and relatively slow to parse, and coded binary, which are more 'difficult' to edit (requiring a specific editor as opposed to any text editor) and can be accessed more quickly. These days, I think the majority of plists in OS X are of the latter type. That being the case, it's something of a tradeoff: you get very tidy configuration data spread across multiple files with good performance, but you also need to use a specific application to edit them.

I'm a big XML fan, so I 'prefer' XML plists. They're incredibly easy to read and edit but also somewhat dangerous to edit, as XML is quite strict about its markup. Omit one character and you're probably in trouble. They're larger than the binary type, but I don't consider that a major issue on modern hardware.

Then again, I'm a little biased. I think XML is the only way to define any kind of data set, even when other systems are sometimes technically better suited to the task (large databases, for instance).
 

YeOldeStonecat

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I've went 3 years on an XP install without issues. Late last year I worked on a computer that had a 2002 install of XP and it ran just fine.

So what's your point?

Same here...

I've gone way longer than that. Hell my current gaming rig at home is probably near or a hair over 5 years on its current install...and it runs like a champ...it runs 24x7. Zero stability issues. And yeah I install and uninstall stuff. I just use my head, and I'm careful.

And I have tons and tons and tons of clients where...I've not seen the rig die due from normal use due to the registry being the cause.
The only thing I've seen be registry related as the symptom....when a machine is tanked....is "Unable to load the Hive" error blue screen. And that's usually from a failing hard drive, the registry fails because the system32 folder is quite heavily accessed, so a frequently traveled portion of the hard drive is doomed to fail more.

Yes some software that's not written well can leave stuff behind when uninstall. Some are written more poorly than others, and don't properly remove themselves when uninstalled. That's not the fault of the registry.

And while yes the registry can grow in size over time...on paper one can argue that it slows down the system. But in the real world..it's not realy much of an impact on the system. Even a registry on a 5 year old system is still not a big file, and on todays systems..unless you're running a Pentium 75 on a 4200rpm hard drive...it's not going to add but a few seconds to your bootup time for the CPU to process the registry.
 

Bahamut

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Ok so here's another thread by the same person that's asking for specific OSX vs Windows (basically Mac vs PC) comparisons/debates/discussions and then the obligatory "I don't want this to turn into a debate/argument/war" followup statement... is there a pattern to this?

Both OSes work their respective "magic" the way they're both designed. I don't personally see any benefit to either one over the other, nor do I see immediate negatives to one over the other. But then again I'm not an average Joe computer owner, never have been, never will be.

Is either system perfect? Far from it. Is either system full of issues and problems? Depends on your POV I suppose. I've had OSX get itself wrecked by some plist issues - it all depends on which plist that gets wrecked because the system itself also uses them. Same thing with Windows - it depends on the situation and precisely what gets affected by the problem(s).

A brand new car can choke and die 5 minutes after you drive it off the lot...
 

devil22

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Here's a post from a ubuntu forum:

I believe OSX plist works the same way as Linux.

Regarding your quote, I'm quite sure the whole registry is NOT read entirely into memory each boot. Why would that be necessary? It's not like it's stored there during the duration of the session, so what would be the point of reading the whole thing into memory on boot? It would also cause 1 minute+ boot times if it did as the registry can reach gigabytes in size. There's really no more slow down than leaving random files scattered across the file system. I mean think about it, if you read a registry key from a random place in the registry, and the whole thing is not stored in memory (or else your memory usage on a typical PC would never be less than about a gigabyte, not including the OS and programs you run) and it could not do random accesses, it would have to read the whole registry each time you read a random key or wrote one, and it obviously does not do that or your PC would crawl doing the most basic operations.

I'm not intimately familiar with the registry, but I imagine it has some kind of look up tables just like a file system, and is probably as fast and as stable as a file system can be.
 
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DeaconFrost

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Installing/uninstalling programs changes the registry. Over time that can slow down or render Windows inoperable.
Not if you use well-known apps, or run a reg cleaner.
From what I understand, in OSX when a program is installed, the preferences are in one file and if that gets corrupted, all you do is delete it and when you reopen the program a new preference file is created.
Never dealt with Adobe products on a Mac, have you? if only it was this simple.
This isn't about if you've had issues or not.
There was little to no reason for this post anyway, so if no one else can figure out a point to a thread, they will surely find one to post about. That's what happens when you create vague threads.
 

devil22

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Another point - nobody says 'dump MySQL, etc. and instead use thousands/millions of text files because MySQL is unreliable/has to load the whole database into memory' because that would be insane, yet the registry is functionally no different than MySQL and other databases, so what gives? Like I said, OS hustlers trying to dupe gullible noobs imo.
 

TechieSooner

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Even reading the quote you're trying to advocate against Windows isn't helping you. Again- the "application" is at fault here. There's nothing wrong with the registry.

A few things:

1) UAC helped. Alot. Again, if an App needs to write to system-level places, UAC shows up. This has forced application developers to write where they are SUPPOSED TO, so that the user won't get shown a UAC prompt. I think this has helped in the registry as well, to kindof contain apps.
To an extent, anyway.

2) Market Share of course plays alot into this as well. I think alot of it is perceived. You put billions of users onto OS X, I think the shortcomings of a config file will become a huge issue fast- much more people complaining about that.
Microsoft has already been there and done that, and moved to a database system. So again, repeating what was said before: they aren't behind by any means: they're ahead.

3) Applications are again what's at fault for the bad perception. Crappy apps (And let's face it: I see a whole lot more garbage and third-party apps out in the XP-era than I do today) caused those slowdowns. UAC helped, as I said. The only way around this is regulating what apps can be installed. AKA: Microsoft App Store. The beauty of Windows is you can mainly do what you want with it. You don't have Big Brother forcing you to only use their "approved" apps. So chose one evil or the other.
Freedom will always have a price. Not just in real life but in the OS-world as well.
 

gimp

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as stated, the problem with the registry is not the registry itself, but poorly coded uninstallers not removing all references the installer put in.

it's not the fault of Windows and the registry.

just like application backwards-compatibility. Don't blame Windows, put the blame on the programmers who didn't write the program per Microsoft's suggestions/requirements for compatibility.
 

matsuya

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The point of this thread was stated in my first post. What are the advantages/disadvantages of the registry vs. OSX plist. I brought up "supposed" advantages the plist has because that's the only thing I've heard. Whether it's true or not, I don't know.

I don't own a Mac and I'm still debating whether to get one. But out of curiosity I wanted to know how the registry works vs the plist. I never really learned about the registry. I grew up on Microsoft and have built more than 10 or so PC's and I am very anal about what I install. Therefore, I never had issues with the registry.
 

Bahamut

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Then go buy a Mac because that's the only way you're ever going to get the knowledge and experience you seem to be desperately seeking. Asking questions is ok but, at some point you just have to say, "What the fuck..." and do it. Cheesy, yes, stolen from one of the coolest movies ever made, yes.

Still 100% accurate? Most definitely.
 

matsuya

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Then go buy a Mac because that's the only way you're ever going to get the knowledge and experience you seem to be desperately seeking. Asking questions is ok but, at some point you just have to say, "What the fuck..." and do it. Cheesy, yes, stolen from one of the coolest movies ever made, yes.

Still 100% accurate? Most definitely.

How am I going to know more about the advantages/disadvantages of Windows Registry by buying a Mac?
 

DeaconFrost

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How am I going to know more about the advantages/disadvantages of Windows Registry by buying a Mac?
I think he meant that's how you'd learn more about plists, but also, gien that most people with a Mac also run Windows....you could get experience with both.
 

matsuya

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I think he meant that's how you'd learn more about plists, but also, gien that most people with a Mac also run Windows....you could get experience with both.

I really want to know more about Windows Registry. At this point I'm leaning more towards staying with PC. I've been building PCs for a long time now and I don't think I can get away from building my own.
 

DeaconFrost

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Then don't buy a Mac, and stick with a PC. Set up a Virtual Machine and play around with the registry until your hearts content. I don't really see much of a need or reason to learn anything about it, but to each his/her own. If you are trying to learn more about the underworkings of an OS, the registry isn't really where you want to spend your time.
 

matsuya

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Then don't buy a Mac, and stick with a PC. Set up a Virtual Machine and play around with the registry until your hearts content. I don't really see much of a need or reason to learn anything about it, but to each his/her own. If you are trying to learn more about the underworkings of an OS, the registry isn't really where you want to spend your time.

Where do I start?
 

devil22

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Where do I start?

If you want to learn about the registry and other Windows sub-systems, the book "Windows Internals 5th edition" is a good place to start, might be a little too technical tho but it describes the registry in great detail. There's also lots of stuff on the web, for a casual read check out the different wikipedia articles on Windows sub-systems, and there's a lot more you can probably find in google.
 

DeaconFrost

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Where do I start?
Start by loading up any OS you want in a virtual machine and play around with it, learning what is important to you. Are you trying to get into IT? Networking? Security? If it is just for general knowledge, just using the OS is the best way to learn it.

What are the system specs of your current computer?
 

Azhar

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I'm not sure why one would base their OS choice on registry and configuration procedure anyways. OS choices should be about how you plan on using your computer.

Gaming a lot? Get a PC - or a Mac with Bootcamp.

School requires a Mac? Get a Mac.

Are you adventurous? Get a PC and read up on Hackintosh (don't elaborate on this - discussing Hackintosh howto's aren't permitted on this forum).

etc etc..

I've never heard anyone say "So which computer should I get that handles configuration files and entries better?".
 

matsuya

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I'm not sure why one would base their OS choice on registry and configuration procedure anyways. OS choices should be about how you plan on using your computer.

Gaming a lot? Get a PC - or a Mac with Bootcamp.

School requires a Mac? Get a Mac.

Are you adventurous? Get a PC and read up on Hackintosh (don't elaborate on this - discussing Hackintosh howto's aren't permitted on this forum).

etc etc..

I've never heard anyone say "So which computer should I get that handles configuration files and entries better?".
Just because I made a thread about thinking about getting a Mac doesn't mean all my questions are about getting a Mac. This thread is mainly about Windows Registry. I only brought up OSX's plist because that's the other most used OS.
 

Azhar

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Just because I made a thread about thinking about getting a Mac doesn't mean all my questions are about getting a Mac. This thread is mainly about Windows Registry. I only brought up OSX's plist because that's the other most used OS.

I didn't base my reply on your original post. I based it on the quote below:

The point of this thread was stated in my first post. What are the advantages/disadvantages of the registry vs. OSX plist. I brought up "supposed" advantages the plist has because that's the only thing I've heard. Whether it's true or not, I don't know.

I don't own a Mac and I'm still debating whether to get one. But out of curiosity I wanted to know how the registry works vs the plist. I never really learned about the registry. I grew up on Microsoft and have built more than 10 or so PC's and I am very anal about what I install. Therefore, I never had issues with the registry.

But my points all still stand: you have numerous opportunities to learn the ins and outs of both operating system on either platforms - the PC with VMWare or Hackintosh, or an Apple with Bootcamp for the ability to run OSX and Windows.

Windows support both flat file configuration and registry entry. It's completely up to the programmers and developers how to implement them.
 
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