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Windows registry certainly has it's issues... but causing malware is not one of them.
The internet says that the centralized Windows registry is to blame for Windows having virus problems since 1995. Macs have their settings in the program folder like DOS to me. So why doesn't Microsoft return to the idea of separate INI files? Yes, it will consume space, but with terabytes of space who would notice?
In this excerpt from Answercast #38, I look at Windows registry and it's many difficulties – but it's not causing malware.
Well if "The Internet" says it... it must be true.
Unfortunately in this case, I believe the internet is wrong. I know that's heresy, but that's what I believe.
I do not blame the Windows registry for Windows malware issues. I blame it for perhaps:
Instability in uninstall programs.
Maybe overall instability because it's so hard to write to, and many programs don't write to it properly.
I blame it for a few things related to Windows issues.
But I don't blame it for malware.
The registry actually attempts to solve a couple of really interesting problems. Those being that different users on the same machine need to be able to have completely different sets of settings and those users all need to be protected from each other. Windows registry actually does those things fairly well.
The problem is that it's an organizational nightmare and it's a very difficult thing for an application to actually write to, and write to properly and securely.
Now, there are definitely other ways of dealing with this collection of information. INI files are the most common one and it's the most common one mentioned by folks like myself (and perhaps you, I honestly don't know) who are very familiar and comfortable with dealing with settings, and would love to just fire up an INI file in a text editor and have it be a very quick way to make a setting change.
Any software that was able to modify the registry to insert itself into your system could just as easily have gone in and modified the INI files that would have been in place to do the same thing.
Remember, the registry is there to perform certain functions.
It lists all the start up things that have to happen when Windows boots up. If you don't have a registry, you still have to have that information somewhere. If malware can get into the registry, it's gonna be able to get into the registry alternative.
So, I really don't see it as being a cause, or a root cause, of any virus or malware issues with Windows. Like I said, I do blame it for some of the ordinate complexity that application writers have to go through to use the registry properly.
Yes, I am absolutely with you in the sense that I would have loved to have seen a different approach to settings and settings savings. And you're right, I think the registry was an attempt at putting together a centralized database that could be efficiently managed by the system.
Had they known twenty-five years ago that we were going to have this excess of cheap hard disk space, maybe the decision would have been made differently.
Certainly, I would personally love to see registry settings be replaced by something like text files.
The problem that we have today is that:
We have twenty-five years of inertia.
We have twenty-five years of applications who are all writing to the registry.
We have Windows itself writing to the registry.
The registry is such an inherent part of how Windows works. Changing that, actually moving away from a registry based model, would probably destabilize the operating system to the point of un-usability.
I really do believe that the only way to move away from a registry-based system is to change your system completely. In which case, it sounds like you already have.
If you're running a Macintosh, fantastic. You've got what you want. If you're running a Linux, fantastic. You've got what you want.
But I think Windows is and always will be, for better or for worse, registry
Next from Answercast 38- When does a download stop if I close my browser?
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