Interesting Windows Registry Keys

Interesting Windows Registry Keys

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Windows Version and Owner Info

  • Located at Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion, you'll find the Windows version, Service Pack, installation time, and the registered owner's name in a straightforward manner.

Computer Name

  • The hostname is found under System\ControlSet001\Control\ComputerName\ComputerName.

Time Zone Setting

  • The system's time zone is stored in System\ControlSet001\Control\TimeZoneInformation.

Access Time Tracking

  • By default, the last access time tracking is turned off (NtfsDisableLastAccessUpdate=1). To enable it, use: fsutil behavior set disablelastaccess 0

Windows Versions and Service Packs

  • The Windows version indicates the edition (e.g., Home, Pro) and its release (e.g., Windows 10, Windows 11), while Service Packs are updates that include fixes and, sometimes, new features.

Enabling Last Access Time

  • Enabling last access time tracking allows you to see when files were last opened, which can be critical for forensic analysis or system monitoring.

Network Information Details

  • The registry holds extensive data on network configurations, including types of networks (wireless, cable, 3G) and network categories (Public, Private/Home, Domain/Work), which are vital for understanding network security settings and permissions.

Client Side Caching (CSC)

  • CSC enhances offline file access by caching copies of shared files. Different CSCFlags settings control how and what files are cached, affecting performance and user experience, especially in environments with intermittent connectivity.

AutoStart Programs

  • Programs listed in various Run and RunOnce registry keys are automatically launched at startup, affecting system boot time and potentially being points of interest for identifying malware or unwanted software.


  • Shellbags not only store preferences for folder views but also provide forensic evidence of folder access even if the folder no longer exists. They are invaluable for investigations, revealing user activity that isn't obvious through other means.

USB Information and Forensics

  • The details stored in the registry about USB devices can help trace which devices were connected to a computer, potentially linking a device to sensitive file transfers or unauthorized access incidents.

Volume Serial Number

  • The Volume Serial Number can be crucial for tracking the specific instance of a file system, useful in forensic scenarios where file origin needs to be established across different devices.

Shutdown Details

  • Shutdown time and count (the latter only for XP) are kept in System\ControlSet001\Control\Windows and System\ControlSet001\Control\Watchdog\Display.

Network Configuration

  • For detailed network interface info, refer to System\ControlSet001\Services\Tcpip\Parameters\Interfaces{GUID_INTERFACE}.

  • First and last network connection times, including VPN connections, are logged under various paths in Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\NetworkList.

Shared Folders

  • Shared folders and settings are under System\ControlSet001\Services\lanmanserver\Shares. The Client Side Caching (CSC) settings dictate offline file availability.

Programs that Start Automatically

  • Paths like NTUSER.DAT\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run and similar entries under Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion detail programs set to run at startup.

Searches and Typed Paths

  • Explorer searches and typed paths are tracked in the registry under NTUSER.DAT\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer for WordwheelQuery and TypedPaths, respectively.

Recent Documents and Office Files

  • Recent documents and Office files accessed are noted in NTUSER.DAT\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\RecentDocs and specific Office version paths.

Most Recently Used (MRU) Items

  • MRU lists, indicating recent file paths and commands, are stored in various ComDlg32 and Explorer subkeys under NTUSER.DAT.

User Activity Tracking

  • The User Assist feature logs detailed application usage stats, including run count and last run time, at NTUSER.DAT\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\UserAssist\{GUID}\Count.

Shellbags Analysis

  • Shellbags, revealing folder access details, are stored in USRCLASS.DAT and NTUSER.DAT under Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell. Use Shellbag Explorer for analysis.

USB Device History

  • HKLM\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Enum\USBSTOR and HKLM\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Enum\USB contain rich details on connected USB devices, including manufacturer, product name, and connection timestamps.

  • The user associated with a specific USB device can be pinpointed by searching NTUSER.DAT hives for the device's {GUID}.

  • The last mounted device and its volume serial number can be traced through System\MountedDevices and Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\EMDMgmt, respectively.

This guide condenses the crucial paths and methods for accessing detailed system, network, and user activity information on Windows systems, aiming for clarity and usability.

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