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What is a program adding to my registry?

by Oscar Sodani
January 13, 2006

Oscar Sodani is a founder of Help2Go and owner of Help2Go Networks, an IT consulting firm in the Washington D.C. area. Oscar holds the CISSP certification as well as industry certifications from Microsoft, Cisco and Novell.

Let's face it: when we install a program or run it, we have NO idea what changes it is making to our Windows registry. That's why so many utiliies are out there that promise to "clean up" our Windows registry. With a simple free utility called RegShot, we can find out exactly what changes are being made to our registry.

RegShot works by taking 2 snapshots of your registry and comparing them. For instance, take a snapshot before installing a new program. Then take a snapshot afterwards. RegShot can then compare the two snapshots and tell you exactly what was added, removed, or changed in your registry.

The first step is to download Regshot. There's no need to install it - just extract the files from the ZIP file you downloaded and run regshot.exe

You'll see the following screen:

RegShot screenshot 

If you like, you can change the output path for where it will save your registry snapshots.

When you are ready for the first snapshot, click on 1st shot, then Shot and Save... RegShot will go through and examine your registry, which may take anywhere from a couple of seconds to a couple of minutes. Choose where you want to save your Snapshot. Then exit the program.

Now go ahead and install whatever program you wanted to track the changes of. Or wait a day, or a week - it doesn't matter. When you are ready to make your second snapshot, run RegShot again.

Now, let's load your first snapshot. Click on 1st shot and choose Load. Find the file where you saved your first snapshot and hit OK. Then click on 2nd shot and choose Shot and Save...

When the second snapshot is complete, choose Compare. You will see a text file that outlines the exact changes between the two snapshots. Note that you can change the output file to be a web page (HTML) simply by selecting the HTML document option in the program.

Whether you are trying to track what a piece of spyware is doing, or what Microsoft Office is doing, RegShot is a nice utility to have in your PC toolbox. 

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