Deleting the Word "Data" Key–What Does It Mean, Anyway?
Posted by William Diaz on November 19, 2010
The term corruption gets thrown around way too-often without actually knowing what it means or how it happens. If you troubleshoot Word often, all of us at one time or another have had to delete the Word Data key from the Windows Registry in an attempt to correct some problem. But what are you actually doing when you delete this key? To get an idea, visit the Word MVP site and read this: http://word.mvps.org/faqs/customization/DataKeySettings.htm
You should also familiarize yourself with the following Microsoft KB Article that covers the Word data key and a few other keys: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/921541
If you bother to look at the registry values you will see they are unreadable,but if you open the Settings REG_BINARY and scroll down you will see readable text, which contains, among other things, data to Word .dot files.
When we say that the Word data key is or may be "corrupt" this could mean that information here is referencing non-existent/moved data or problem add-ins, like templates. In fact, to demonstrate what a corrupted Word data key can do, I opened both REG_BINARY types and edited the data by typing gibberish into them. When done, I opened Word and produced the following: