The Windows Registry is a hierarchical database that stores low-level settings for the Microsoft Windows operating system and for applications that opt to use the registry. The kernel, device drivers, services, Security Accounts Manager, and user interface can all use the registry. The registry also allows access to counters for profiling system performance.
Special ACEs on the security descriptor can also implement mandatory integrity control for the registry key and subkeys. A process running at a lower integrity level cannot write, change or delete a registry key/value, even if the account of the process has otherwise been granted access through the ACL. For instance, Internet Explorer running in Protected Mode can read medium and low integrity registry keys/values of the currently logged on user, but it can only modify low integrity keys.[37]
Individual settings for users on a system are stored in a hive (disk file) per user. During user login, the system loads the user hive under the HKEY_USERS key and sets the HKCU (HKEY_CURRENT_USER) symbolic reference to point to the current user. This allows applications to store/retrieve settings for the current user implicitly under the HKCU key.

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