File & Registry Virtualization in Windows 7/8/10

Beginning with Windows Vista, Microsoft virtualized some files & the registry. Virtualization basically means that applications are prevented from writing to System Folders in Windows file system and ALSO to the ‘machine wide keys’ in the registry.

windows-registry-8

File & Registry Virtualization

Registry Virtualization basically means that applications are prevented from writing to System Folders in Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 10/8 file system and ALSO to the ‘machine wide keys’ in the registry.  However, this does not prevent standard user accounts from installing or running applications.

In Vista7/8/10, the UAC utilizes the Registry Virtualization Feature, to redirect attempts to write to subkeys of

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software

When an application attempts to write to this hive, Windows instead, writes it, to a per-user location,

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\VirtualStore\Machine\Software

This is done discreetly. No one gets to know that this is happening!

This is, in short, Registry Virtualization, and it is a useful Security feature.

Additional reads:

  1. The Compatibility Files toolbar button & Files Virtualization
  2. De-Mystifying Windows Registry & Registry Virtualization.
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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.