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Monitor changes in the registry
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Question:I am about to install some advertising financed software (Ad-Ware) and I want to make sure that an uninstall at a later time will really remove all traces. Therefore I'm curious what kind of traces this software leaves in the registry. What's the best thing to do?
Answer:You should export your registry to a text file (extension typically .reg). Run the registry editor (RegEdit.exe) and select 'Export' in the file menu. Export from the root, so that you get everything.
Then install your software.
Then export a second time, to a different file name.
Then run your software a bit.
Then export a third time, to a different file name.
Now you should have 3 snapshots of your registry - each as text files. You can use a text comparison tool to find out where the files are different.
BeyondCompare from scootersoftware is great for that. You can download a free trial of BeyondCompare here.
Compare the 3 files, probably most interesting will be version 1 against version 3 and draw your conclusions.
Later, when you uninstall, you can do a 4th export and do another compare.
If you just want to monitor any access in real time, you could try Systernals' freeware registry monitor. Get it here. You will be surprised how often the registry gets hit with every mouse or keyboard event.