This site will look much better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

WinXPTutor's XP Resources

Windows XP Tips, Illustrations and registry edits

How to use Group Policy to configure auditing of Windows registry keys in XP Professional?

Monitoring registry changes is sometimes necessary to detect intruders or if an Unknown process / application is resetting a registry value every time (say, the Internet Explorer Favorites Shell folder location is changed on every startup). You can set a registry audit policy for a specific registry key in order to track down information about the registry change event.

Phase I: Enable Audit Policy

  • Click Start, Run and type Secpol.msc (or via GPEDIT.MSC)
  • In the left pane, under Local Policies, click Audit Policy
  • In the right pane, double-click Audit Object Access
  • Select the Success and Failure boxes

Phase II: Setting the Audit for registry key(s)

  • Click Start, Run and type Regedit and navigate to the key you want to audit
  • On the Edit menu, click Permission, click Advanced.
  • On the Auditing tab, click Add.
  • Type your username there and add it to the audit list
  • In the Auditing Entry For Name dialog, in the Access list, select both the Successful and Failed check boxes next to the activities for which you want to audit successful and failed attempts.

(Example: If you want to track the write events for a registry value, enable the SetValue activity from the list )

Now that you've set an audit successfully. Work normally in the system as usual. If the behavior is see (say for example, the Favorites location value is overwritten by a software ), it's time to inspect the Event Log (Security log which contains the Security audit information). Proceed to Phase III

Phase III:  Inspect the Event Logs for any information on the changed keys/values:

  • Click Start, Run and type Eventvwr.msc
  • In Event Viewer's left pane, click Security.
  • In the right-pane, double-click the appropriate entry to see more details. You can spot the entry by matching the time / date and the Image File Name seen in the log.
  • In the Security log, the Image File Name reveals the name of the program which had tried to change (or changed) the registry key/value silently


  • Click the Notepad icon to copy the security log information to the clipboard.
  • Don't forget to turn off auditing for the key once you gather the required data, as your Security event log might soon become full.