Originally posted by groverat
I really don't understand what you mean by that.
In what way is it "fragile"?
Nearly all of the support issues I deal with turn out to be registry problems. We don't see corrupted directories or other kinds of issues. We nearly always see registry problems. One guy turned on the computer one morning and none of his short cuts would work. Turned out to be some kind of corruption in the registry.
I wrote scientific software for about 12 years so I'm familiar with the general ideas of software code, I've just never written for windows. I'm trying to understand why the registry seems to be a magnet for troubles.
From what I've been able to gather it comes down to two things.
1. The items in the registry are quite important. If they are corrupted then the software will likely not run. This may partly be a software issue. If the software was smart enough to check registry data before using it and not use illegal values there might be fewer problems (assuming the software has the opportunity to see things before using them).
2. The registry is difficult to edit. This is a subjective call. It may be easy for someone who does this all day long but it is not the kind of thing I'd like to try to talk my mom through on the phone. As a subset of this it seems that there can be a huge number of registry entries for one program. Our tech told me there was at least one for each .dll we use. If we have to clean that out it is much more tedious than deleting one preference file.
Further questions: Is there just one registry for all users? If one user installs something can that screw up registry entries for another user's software? Is it possible for one program to screw up the whole registry? Could we backup the whole registry from time to time and fall back to that instead of trying to edit the registry?