The registry is physically stored in several files, which are generally obfuscated from the user-mode APIs used to manipulate the data inside the registry. Depending upon the version of Windows, there will be different files and different locations for these files, but they are all on the local machine. The location for system registry files in Windows NT is %SystemRoot%\System32\Config; the user-specific HKEY_CURRENT_USER user registry hive is stored in Ntuser.dat inside the user profile. There is one of these per user; if a user has a roaming profile, then this file will be copied to and from a server at logout and login respectively. A second user-specific registry file named UsrClass.dat contains COM registry entries and does not roam by default.
For instance, the administrator can create a policy with one set of registry settings for machines in the accounting department and policy with another (lock-down) set of registry settings for kiosk terminals in the visitors area. When a machine is moved from one scope to another (e.g. changing its name or moving it to another organizational unit), the correct policy is automatically applied. When a policy is changed it is automatically re-applied to all machines currently in its scope.
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Critics labeled the registry in Windows 95 a single point of failure, because re-installation of the operating system was required if the registry became corrupt. However, Windows NT uses transaction logs to protect against corruption during updates. Current versions of Windows use two levels of log files to ensure integrity even in the case of power failure or similar catastrophic events during database updates. Even in the case of a non-recoverable error, Windows can repair or re-initialize damaged registry entries during system boot.