Nanny ... from someone down to her last brain cell, I love the comment about practicing being senile :)
Nanny, SAunSR, et al ...
In regard to formatting by other than owner, it can be done if the administrator's account is not password protected; otherwise, any user can simply switch to an admin profile and carry out dastardly deeds. Also, one should never be surfing the internet under an admin profile! Using a limited or guest profile may stifle your access to certain processes but by the same token, it limits damage from hackers. An admin profile opens you up to comprehensive assaults and should be used sparingly.
As for reformatting and losing programs, any program that you use is going to be in the registry in some form or another.
I do not recommend registry edits for the uninitiated, but you CAN export a backup copy of your registry by these steps:
Start > Run > Regedit ...
the window that pops up is your registry. In the upper left corner, choose
FILE > EXPORT.
The file can then be saved to another hard drive or CD; note that the file can be exported in registry or text formats. If you do so in registry format, opening the file will RESTORE that registry over the one you are currently using. Text will allow you to read the file, but unless you are proficient in the mysteries of regedits, comparing and editing entries is best left to more knowledgeable techs. The information you seek is, quite often, encoded and would require decompiling.
On the subject of Restore: there are generally two types, a 'hard' restore and 'soft' restore.
In a hard restore, or format, ALL information is wiped and replaced with original factory-installed conditions.
In a 'soft' restore, the registry is rebuilt to original keys, and original software is reinstalled BUT your documents, videos and music remain intact. Programs YOU installed on the computer will remain, but their registry keys will be overwritten. In other words, you will be able to locate your program files on the start menu but getting them to work is another story.
The only way to resolve that problem is to rebuild the registry keys ... or completely reinstall the program. While re-installation may not be a problem for purchased software, the Giveaway games -may- be another story. The exception may be when the Giveaway pop-up window actually lists the activation key. If you have copied that, you may be able to reinstall the program and reactivate.