Windows Server 2003 Registry Hacks (also work on XP or Vista)

Introduction to Registry Hacks

My aim in this section is to give you the experience, confidence and satisfaction of making changes to your Windows registry.

There are times when you read about a Windows Server 2003 feature but there is no icon to implement it.  Therefore the only way to test that feature is to change a setting in the registry.  Another reason to master registry editing is so that you can remotely troubleshoot a machine via Regedit.

The executables to hack the registry are Regedit (or Regedt32).  The newer versions of Regedit remember the last place you visited, which is extremely useful when you are constantly adjusting values.  If you have not been to the registry before, click on the Windows START (Button), click on Run, type regedit and then press OK.

How Dangerous is Editing the Registry?

People give dire warnings about changing the registry.  My view is that changing settings via the registry is no more hazardous than say – configuring the monitor refresh rate through the Control Panel.  You may hear that if you make a mistake you can cripple your system; I find that if you type in the wrong key value nothing happens!  However I once saw a ‘gung-ho’ individual delete a whole section of the registry.  This would have been disastrous if I had not exported the relevant section, so we just imported it and solved the problem.

Registry Tips

  • Use Regedit rather than Regedt32 because it has a wonderful FIND.
  • Use the REGISTRY Export as a precaution before you experiment.
  • Rename settings you do not needed or want, avoid deleting anything in the registry.
  • If you are following advice from an article, check whether it says ADD or Change.  With ADD you need an extra step.
  • Practice remote registry editing to prepare for an emergency.

Here below is an example of a registry hack, for more ideas see the side menu.

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Faster kill for applications not responding

Launch Regedit and click on the ‘Find’ menu search for WaitToKillAppTimeout.  The default is 20000 milli seconds, my challenge is to try a shorter timeout, say about 5000 (5 seconds).

As you may guess from the name this sets the timeout on processes that are hanging.  Technically this an interesting hack as you have to set it two or thee times in the registry – keep pressing F3 (Find next).  The reason is that this setting is found on the Current user, Default user and maybe another user where you see a SID value.

Learning Points

  • Particularly with the HKEY_USER registry settings, you have to make the changes three times; remember F3 to ‘Find Next’.
  • Time values are in milli seconds e.g 1000 = 1 second

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The main reason to monitor your network is to check that your all your servers are available.  If there is a network problem you want an interface to show the scope of the problem at a glance.

Even when all servers and routers are available, sooner or later you will be curious to know who, or what, is hogging your precious network’s bandwidth.  A GUI showing the top 10 users makes interesting reading.

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Example: Change Registry Settings Internet Temporary File

The goal of this page is to combine skills using VBScript, WinDiff and Regedit.  Our mission is to change values in the registry.  We need to find the correct registry hive, then create a script to make the change automatically.  This mission is difficult and success will depend on attention to detail.  See more on Changing Internet Tempory File Location.

More Registry Tweaks:

Registry Hacks   • Registry Hacks Getting Started   • Registry Secure Hacks

Registry Hacks Low Disk Space   • Registry Hacks Autorun   • Registry ConsentPromptBehavior

Registry Hacks Cached Logons   • Registry Hacks ContextMenuHandlers   • God Mode