How-to Enforce Windows Registry Uniformity for End-user Computing

Ensuring uniformity between different environments is a challenge in end-user computing. Differences between environments can cause unnecessary misunderstandings, errors, and support requests. As a result, the need for uniformity has brought a vast number of solutions to light that help ensure environments are similar or, ideally, identical. These solutions use imaging or policy enforcement mechanisms to ensure identical settings across desktops and servers. The next challenge becomes discovering and dealing with those differences.

In this article, number 4 of our 5 part series, you will learn how to compare and easily update Windows registry on multiple end-user computers.

Multi-Target Management

Windows’ Registry Editor and command line tools are often used to manage the registry. However, neither solution can really tackle the challenge of multi-target management as all Windows built-in tools are single-targeted.  This means that registry settings can be seen or changed on one computer or user at a time. It is possible to jump between individual computer registries to make configuration comparisons, but this isn’t very practical if more than two registry trees need to be compared. Alternately, a script can be created to do this, however, scripting takes time. A skilled scripter would need to write and maintain a script that would run on multiple computers to retrieve, compare and apply a specific registry value.

Enforce and Maintain Windows Registry Uniformity

Looking for an easier way?  ControlUp offers a simple solution that allows you to compare registries with a single click, saving you time and effort. As shown below, you can manage multiple registries in one registry tree, with differences between computers highlighted in various colors. For example, unique variations that only pertain to a single computer are highlighted in red, whereas if a single setting differs across multiple computers it is highlighted in blue. This direct and clean visual allows you to easily spot problems occurring in numerous environments and allows you to make the necessary follow-up actions.

Differences between computers are highlighted by various colors

Tracking Uniformity in Live User Sessions

Accessing registry settings in live user sessions is often needed, but not easy to do. This is especially difficult with Windows built-in tools, since they require you to act from within the user session in order to be able to access the HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive.

However, ControlUp’s multi-target management capabilities, as well as the ability to compare live user registries without remotely connecting to a user session, make accessing registry settings a breeze. Similar to the process mentioned above, you only need to select multiple user sessions to see a single registry tree for all user sessions, with differences highlighted accordingly.

The video below demonstrates how to enforce and maintain uniformity in Windows registries:

Check out the rest of the articles in this series and learn how to change your user group policy restrictionstake screenshots, and interact with live user sessions.  Basically get to know ControlUp and how its many features can help you provide a superior end-user experience.