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February 6, 2012

Mastering Windows: Registries, DLLs And Drivers

Want to slightly deepen your knowledge of Windows?  It’s useful information to have, after all, especially if you plan to do tweaking, fixing and other maintenance on your Windows computer all on your own.  Here are some things you’ll need to know about:

  1. Registry.  This is a database that stores the settings for all things on your computer — from Windows itself to the applications you install to the drivers for your peripherals to the nasty malware that sneak into your system undetected.   Almost all modern programs use it to store settings and preferences.  Hence, if you want to tweak a program at a level that you can’t from the application itself, you could check the Registry Editor — you might be able to do it from there.  Make sure to backup before changing anything, though, as updating the registry correctly is often more elaborate than it first appears.
  2. DLLs.  You already know what those files with EXE and COM extensions do, but you probably wonder what those DLL files are for.   In a nutshell, it’s basically a library of program code that runs independently, allowing other programs in the system to access it if they need to run that particular code.  Basically, if a Windows DLL has a program that writes to a specific database, a program like BitDefender only needs to use that DLL to do the same, instead of the programmer having to duplicate it in their own executable.
  3. Drivers.  A driver is a software that runs in the background, allowing a particular hardware you use to communicate with Windows.  Your graphic chip, your mouse and your webcam, among other hardware components, all have a driver acting as liaison between it and the operating system.

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