What’s the best registry cleaner?

Registry cleaners are widely available. When do you need one? Why? What's the best registry cleaner if you do? In general, a registry cleaner isn't needed and when it is, shouldn't be used frequently.

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What would be the best software to buy to fix and clean the Windows registry?

There is no “best” registry cleaner.

There are a wide variety of opinions on registry cleaners and PC cleaning tools. Many people believe that they’re valuable and important tools to keep your system running smoothly.

My opinion’s a little … contrary.

It’s rarely needed

I rarely use a registry cleaner. In fact, I’ve never actually felt that I’ve needed to use a registry cleaner. Usually, I only run them to experiment with the cleaner, not because I felt my system would benefit.

And I definitely install and play with random things on my machine on a regular basis. That kind of “playing” is exactly what most registry cleaning advocates would say lead to issues with the registry. And yet … I’ve rarely had issues and when I did, running registry cleaners weren’t part of the solution.

My fundamental belief is that the best registry cleaner is no registry cleaner at all.

Running a registry cleaner is a risk

In my experience, most computers don’t benefit substantially, if at all, from a registry cleaning. And some actually get worse.

My fundamental belief is that the best registry cleaner is no registry cleaner at all.
Many people reach for a registry cleaner when an application is having problems or  Windows is misbehaving. The problem is that these types of situations rarely respond to registry “cleaning” – they often require an application- or Windows-specific resolution.

Unfortunately, I also get reports of situations where registry cleaners have made things worse, often much worse. I’ve heard from individuals that have had to completely reformat and reinstall Windows after running a registry cleaner that did much more harm than good.

When to run a registry cleaner

The root of the registrySo when is registry cleaning appropriate?

I would identify two cases. When you want to:

  • Speed up a very slow Windows, but only if nothing else has really helped.
  • Resolve Windows or applications crashes, but only if nothing else has helped.

In both cases, I consider it one of the last resorts because while it might help, it’s just not that likely to help much.

Before you begin, back up first; take a full system image. That way if something goes wrong as a result of the clean-up, you can safely restore your machine to a point in time before the damage was done.

Safe registry cleaning

There are those that disagree with my position.

And, to be honest, while there are the occasional horror stories like those I just mentioned, most of the time registry cleaners don’t do any damage. They may not do any good, but reputable ones aren’t going to harm your system unless there’s some other kind of underlying problem.

Because you can’t tell whether your situation is going to be one of those “mostly OK”  scenarios or a total disaster, it’s important that you take care to always back up properly before your begin.

Which registry cleaner should you use?

So if you’re going to use a registry cleaner, which one should you use?

There are plenty of tools out there, that’s for sure. I’ll recommend two:

  • CCleaner, the Windows cleanup utility has a registry cleaner as well. Run “Analyze” and you’ll be able to see the changes its about to make.
  • Macecraft’s JV16PowerTools, a commercial solution that includes not only a registry cleaner but an entire suite of useful maintenance utilities.

I’ve used both of these tools on an otherwise clean and working copy of Windows 8 and had no issues.

 

Regardless of which registry cleaner you use, please backup first. You can’t have too many backups.

This is an update to an article originally posted : July 2, 2006

There are 73 comments:

  1. Kat Reply

    How do I add a picture from My Pictures folder to the body of IE 6 outgoing message? I want the picture & not a link. IncrediMail has some sort of proceedure built into its system whereby you can save “Add Animation to IncrediMail Style Box.” Then when using their e-mail all you have to do is select from pictures you’ve saved.

  2. Misa Reply

    I use RegCure and once it deleted something from my registry….had to install Windows again…^^

  3. Joe Reply

    is their a program for my computer that can show me what programs are running in the background on my comouter?

  4. Karen Schultz Reply

    I think I have to agree with Leo about Registry cleaners. I had a Gateway 2000 with DSL form ATT. Well I needed to uninstall norton and when I went to reinstall I did not have enough memory because they had upped their requirements. Using registry on that machine did not help. Privacy Guardian even slowed it further. So, I obtained a Dell Dimension 4300 that had been in office use. It was stripped. I loaded it and then norton still would not work. so I purchased PCTools Internet Security which has anti-spyware, anti-virus, firewall, and spam protection. I cannot get the firewall to install, so I am waiting on tech support, which is not so great. As a bonus I was given Desktop Maestro which is a combination of Registry Mechanic and Privacy Guardian. That slowed my machine, froze it, gave me blank screens and I just uninstalled and am requesting a refund. I have been all over the web looking at all the reviews written and no one agrees. RegCure found the most errors, but how do you know if correcting them will really make your machine run better? I find this very frustrating. I don’t even know if I have a back-up. So I will not be purchasing any registry cleaner, because I am afraid of what has been done and might be done even on the newbie club I was not convinced. Thanks Lou.

  5. Mike Reply

    It seems to me that the computer industry gets away with murder! When we take into account the billions that are spent every year by computer users alone, including hardware and software, it begs the question: why are we al still scratching around on websites, going from Billy to Jack, endeavouring to find the golden fleece, i. e. a program or utility that will reliably clean our machines so that all the dross is removed and we can use them again in much the same state as when we bought them as new. Is that too much to ask?I believe there must be millions of angry and dissapointed customers out there who are totaly frustrated with their computers and a lot of them give up as it becomes obvious that there is no real governing body which will fight their cause for them!

  6. Mike Reply

    My personal preference is Windows Live One Care. For a nominal fee you can cover off up to three computers providing you with virus protection, clean up, defrag etc. Registry clean up is also available through Microsoft Safety Scan at no additional cost.
    Appreciate opinions.

  7. Gabe Redfield Reply

    Again everyone has their own tastes and I with mine have to disagree with Leo. I think Registry Cleaners are a vital part of our computer’s lives. When the aforementioned annoying problems persist it tends to reflect upon a heavily damaged, poorly kempt Windows Registry. By utilizing todays registry technology computers can recieve their regular maintenance easily by their owners. Not some overpayed geek. Theres a ton of registry programs out there and the wrong one can do more harm then good. But with the right one your computer can continue to run as new. There is freeware type programs available but if a vital mistake is made there is no support team to help. Sometimes even no backup options. Leave something as important as your computer registry not to chance. Click here To see my review page of today’s top Registry Cleaners.

    Needless to say, I disagree, but the “other side” is always worth considering when making decisions. Thanks for your thoughts.

    -Leo

    • Don Reply

      Note to Gabe Redfield: I’d love to see the list of today’s top registry cleaners, but the link in your comment doesn’t work.
      I also disagree with Leo on this one. I have used CCleaner’s registry cleaner for a half dozen years+, and typically run it at least once a week. It has NEVER caused a problem. There are registry cleaners that do cause problems primarily because when they can’t find the file referred to in the location referred to, they attempt to change the value to link to the same or similar file in a different location. That can cause major problems. CCleaner does not do that; if it can’t find the file IN THE SPECIFIC LOCATION, it simply deletes the entry. It’s essentially impossible for that procedure to ever cause a problem.
      But does it make the computer faster? Probably not, unless you have a humongous # of bogus entries. The registry, after all, is a small database, and removing obsolete entries from it on a regular basis probably produces an imperceptible change in performance.

      • Leo Reply

        If it doesn’t make the computer faster, I’m curious as to why you run it so frequently? (As is pointed out in my article if you’re going to run one CCleaner’s a fine choice.)

        • Maureen Reply

          I can’t backup before using CCleaner because Macrium Reflect fails each time due to an unused cluster. I have tried everything using Run Chkdsk C: /f & task manager . I have a previous months successful backup but now it’s beyond me . Not much point using CCleaner if I can’t backup .

          • Leo

            “Unused” cluster is unfamiliar to me. Does chkdsk report any errors at all? Have you tried chkdsk /R?

  8. ExpertPCUser Reply

    This article is 100% bullcrap! The auther tells you the best registry cleaner is no registry cleaner at all because he fails at understanding how the Registry works. Any free or old programs you might have installed, licences, keyboard, mouse operations, tracking programs, and may other things that hinder your PC experiene exist in the registry. You must clean it and keep it compact. Anyone who does not or says you dont (Leo) is a complete moron!

    Calling me a moron doesn’t really help make your point.

    I stand by what I said, moron or not. 99% of the crap that does end up in the registry is totally benign, and most of the time doesn’t impact performance in any appreciable way. There’s simply no need to clean it out.

    What you don’t see are the people who’ve totally hosed their system by running a registry cleaner that “cleaned too much”. I see that. Often.

    Unless you know what you’re doing (see my response to the next comment), in my opinion registry cleaners are simply not necessary 99% of the time.

    - Leo
    22-Sep-2008

    • Steve Gledhill Reply

      ExpertPCUser: I would like to see the evidence for your assertion: “You must clean it and keep it compact.” Particularly when you consider your insulting terms to those who are not fortunate enough to have your wealth of knowledge on the subject.
      For my part, I use a tool that cleans the registry as part of a number of fixes and optimization. (IOBit Advanced System Care). I wouldn’t use a separate registry cleaner but I do allow the cleaner to run along with the other tools. So far, I’ve had no bad experiences but I am reassured that the tool creates a registry backup as part of the process so I fall into the : “Most likely not needed but what harm can it do” camp.

      • Glenda Oakley Reply

        Yes, Steve, I too use10Bit Advanced Systen Care and find nothing bad happens. They provide a roll back in their interface, but I have never had to use it. And every so often I run CCleaner.
        Thanks Leo, for ALL your newsletters, I look forward to them, as they often answer a question that I was wondering about, or, I find someone else’s question interesting and I learn something new.

    • Carol Ramirez Reply

      ExpertPCUser: Any opinion you might tender is rendered meaningless by all the careless misspelling in your response. It just makes you seem ignorant and petty…certainly not someone whose opinion I might consider to be useful in any manner. On the other hand, I have received the “Ask Leo” newsletter for several years and found it to be helpful and informative. To Leo: Keep up the good work! I value your opinion!

      • Danny Smith Reply

        Well said Carol! I too have found “Ask Leo” to be very helpful on many occasions. Not only fixing problems but learning a new or better way of doing things. I tend to lean toward advice from what I consider a trained and experienced expert!

        I use Ccleaner and have for several years with no problems. But cleaning my registry is not something I consider a critical issue when my computer is working fine.

        “If it ain’t broke…don’t fix it”.

  9. GeekSquad Member Reply

    Leo’s (Opinion) is very wrong!

    You need a registry cleaner to uninstall old data from programs that did not fully install, erase invalid settings and keys.

    The health of your registry is critical to the total health of your PC.

    Many, Many programs you no longer have on your PC currently might still exist and have registry keys in your Registry File.

    So people please invest in a good registry cleaner to keep your machine from stressing you out and running invalid keys.

    Pointer : You can make registrybackup files by typing regedit in your run button box located on start menu. Choose file export from the registry window with the My Computer (top of list) selected. Save the export file (regbackup01.reg) in a folder (registry back up).

    To restore your registry back to its old version just double click on your back up file.

    I disagree.

    Specifically “The health of your registry is critical to the total health of your PC” is much too broad a statement. Having a lot of old data left in the registry does not make for an “unhealthy registry” or an unhealthy machine. The impact is typically minimal, and not worth the risk of an over-aggressive registry cleaning.

    Yes, there are absolutely things that can happen in the registry that can adversely impact your machine’s performance. But that’s quite different than the oft-repeated “there’s stuff left over in your registry”. The later is, again, benign 99% of the time.

    Registry cleaners are an appropriate tool for those who know what they’re doing – perhaps even GeekSquad members – but they’re not something I recommend for the average user, except as the article calls out, as a last resort.

    One other thing: “To restore your registry back to its old version just double click on your back up file.” – that assumes your machine still boots. In the scenarios I hear about quite often it does not, and recovery isn’t nearly that simple.

    - Leo
    22-Sep-2008
  10. Roger Reply

    Thanks for an excellent article Leo.

    The people who say that is essential to use a registry cleaner are clueless – it is not essential.

    Another point, most of the cooments with links to download registry cleaners or to review sites have been made by affiliates of the programs they suggest and they make money from sales of them. So their opinion is worthless as they are just trying to make money.

    Having used practially every registry cleaner written for Windows I can honestly say that more that 99% of registry cleaners identify at least some valid registry entries as being bad, and deleting these entries can and often does cause problems with the worst case scenario being that Windows will no longer start.

    For people who do feel the need to mess with their registry I recommend TuneUp Utilities 2009 as it very safe and the trial version is fully functional, unlike many registry cleaners.

    CCleaner and Argente Registry Cleaner are the only free registry cleaners which are safe to use, however on occasion the deletion of empty software keys can cause problems and a restore will be needed.

  11. Roger Reply

    RegistryBooster is not a very good registry cleaner. It gives minimal information about the problems found, and appears to give some false posatives.

    If you are going to buy a registry cleaner I suggest the soon to be released TuneUp Utilities 2009 as it finds many problems and is safe to use. Or perhaps you might want to not use any registry cleaner.

  12. Ruben Reply

    The best is none. I have been doing computer support for 30 years. I’m really good at what I do. Listen to this logic…
    Go to the suggested free Registry Cleaner’s webpage … Look for the explanation of Blacklist … It tells you all the the problems that the Fixes have repaired… If you had any of these programs installed.. you would have had the described problem…
    Trust me… the gains of unnecessarily running a Registry Cleaner are tiny compared to the dangers of running it… I commend the people that wrote the program on a great effort to put out fixes… And I commend Leo on the effort it takes to provide this service. This is only my opinion … just information to consider… new here and certainly not trying to offend anyone :)

  13. Cindy Reply

    After doing research on registry cleaners I have found that most of them are the same! That’s right, I forget the associations right now but regfix, errorsmart, registrysmart,errorkiller, regsweep, and a few others are all the same program by the same company with the same website template with the same testimonials with the same LACK OF SUPPORT. That doesn’t sound like reliable software to me.

    The best registry cleaner is not using an OS that needs a registry. The best registry cleaner is Linux :)

  14. Steve B Reply

    Mike, somewhere in here, said it well. It seems that way too much of my time and money is spent on utility software rather than the work and enjoyment that a computer can bring. That being said, I have tried a few registry cleaners and find little benefit from using them. When I do need to clean all remnants of a program out, I have to do it manually via regedit, search for the keyword, delete, F3 until done. Sometimes that is the ONLY way I’ve been able to reload a program that has stopped working correctly. This is probably the 1% that Leo refers to. To Leo, I value your opinion. Thanks for what you offer.

  15. me Reply

    registry cleaning is not that necessary because usually the cause of most instability is related to driver issues and from my experience most registry cleaners wisely avoid messing up with drivers’ entries.

    what used to count was registery defragmenting.
    when you install windows you start with a small sized registry and as time goes it gets larger and more fragmented, which ends up using more RAM,
    defragmenting the registry will decrease its size and free some more RAM that can be used by other applications. However,considering that modern pc now have 3 or 4 GB of RAM defragmenting won’t have the noticeable effect it used to have on performance of older machines.

  16. Alan Pierce Reply

    I agree with the comments that registry cleaners are dangerous. You don’t get enough information to make an informed decision. When I am looking for a specific problem I use Registry Healer(www.fixregistry.com/regheal). That program gives me several options as to what change you want to make to the registry file directory location etc. It also will bring up the parent directory, open up regedit to look at the key and Google the file name.

    I would be interested in knowing if anybody else has tried this program and what the pitfalls of it may be.

    Alan

  17. Atul Navadiya Reply

    U won’t believe I use about 10 different kinds of registry cleaners for about 3 years….
    I have got Pentium 4 with 768 mb ram but it works great…
    With My opinion WinXPManager has got one of the finest registry cleaner…. If u want 2 know about Registry Cleaners… Just send me mail on [email removed]

  18. tintind Reply

    What are the things to take note before purchasing a registry cleaner? Firstly you may have noticed that there are a lot of registry cleaners for sale . All products all shoot a line as being the best registry cleaner for your Windows registry problems.

    So, What

  19. Mark Reply

    I use Ccleaner occasionally. It’s never caused any problems and being free, you cant beat the price. One time I ran it on my wife’s computer when it seemed to be dying. It started working quite well after that. (Although it’s remotely possible that I may have done something else that might have been what really did the trick. She says that the computer obeys me better than it does her and starts working as soon as I walk into the room ;-)>

  20. jim Reply

    Purchase a program that addresses the issues Windows commonly has with safety. Make sure that your registry cleaner is very safe when it comes to deleting. Nobody wants a product that deletes something that might be needed.

  21. toni Reply

    The best registry cleaner software offers solid enough help files and support that you will feel comfortable about using the product. Keep in mind that registry repair is a simple process (when using software) so you probably will not need support, but it is still good to know that you ate least have good help files in case you need to reference them

  22. Ron Kay Reply

    I’m using Win.XP and I was told to never use any Registry Cleaner because they can corrupt some programs . I experienced this myself when I used a registry cleaner a couple of month’s ago and couldn’t open my Adobe Photo Deluxe program afterward. I tried to reinstall it and couldn’t do that either, I got an error message. I had to go into a forum and finally got it resolved. That is where they told me to never use any Registry cleaner because they will cause problems. The only way I got my Adobe Photo Deluxe to operate again is by using “system restore “.

  23. Tony Reply

    I use a tool called revo uninstaller and when it is done it removes the old keys from the program that was uninstalled. but it dose a full backup of the stuff itself. but i don’t make it a habit of using a actual reg cleaner itself besides from this program.

  24. Lord Rayne Reply

    I asked an IT guy at work about registry cleaners and he replied that it was rather like trying to do brain surgery on yourself, i.e., be very careful and only when there is no other brain surgeon with more experience.

  25. Joe Thiel Reply

    Hi Leo,
    Man what a hornets web your stirred up,withy register cleaner, even some uncalled for nastiness, my thinking is a good cleaner serves its purpose,as a drop of oil does on a door hnge,put too much on and you have a mess . I had the pleasure of digging through the registry to remove the left overs from from Nortons work program a few Years ago,sure would have been nice to have had Ccleaner Then. I do use it after lots of surfing or after deleting a program etc. Windows has gotting better at deleting unwanted,but needs a bit of help sometimes.
    Keep it up Leo
    Joe

  26. Harvey Meltzer Reply

    I have “Perfectspeed optimizer 2.0″ from Raxco. It has been on my PC for over 4 years and I use it as needed. There is a performance indicator to tell you how the PC is running, and what function is the problem

  27. Texas Mike Reply

    Having worked extensively with PCs since the days of DOS 1a, I know a LOT about computers and the MS operating system. Enough that I was considered the local “expert” on the subject. And I still don’t know what all that Leo knows. Whether or not I agree with him is irrelevant. On topics where there is more than one answer, I may have a different opinion of its value. But I still trust him to know what he’s talking about.

    On the subject of registry cleaners, I’ve learned the hard way, more than once, to avoid them. Too often they “clean” out settings necessary to run certain hardware on my machine. Fortunately for backups and System Restore, I’ve gotten them back. Too often, said cleaners have wiped out programs I’m currently using and want on my computer, necessitating their complete re-installation. Registry cleaners have served me NO purpose.

    For programs that I’ve installed and decided to remove, I use Revo Uninstaller. For myself, the free version has been perfectly adequate. It not only uninstalls the program, but also finds any remnants in the registry that could slow down my computer and removes THEM, as well. And that’s why most people use their registry cleaner in the first place. So there is MY recommendation, Revo Uninstaller. Keep in mind that I am NOT an “expert”, but quite knowledgeable, and yet I will bow to Leo’s opinion if his is different.

  28. bob price Reply

    If you entered the public library and was told one of the books had 1000 typos, would you walk out? That book with the errors would only affect you if you chose that particular book, and even then, it would probably be very readable. The average book is 150,000 words, so what’s the issue with 1000 spelled wrong.

    My Registry is 350 mb [I save it so I know] Fixing 1000 “errors” would be like clipping off a tiny corners on page 385 on the Sunday version of the Los Angeles Times. A waste of time.

    The only thing you need to worry about in a bloated Registry are those very few programs that are set to auto run on every startup. If you have errors in those few programs, they will become very obvious. Reg cleaners do nothing.

  29. mandolin Reply

    Hi leo.
    i am trying to install a new windows 7 and every time i try i get the computer telling me u have to install sp1, how can i get around that ? and if no way how cant i get that patch to get installed ?.
    thanks

  30. David Cashin Reply

    Sounds like a religious war, and a challenge Leo.
    I actually have used a few, most that say they can help with a problem are trialware and don’t actually fix the problem, just report it. CCleaner seems pretty simple & straightforward and recently I downloaded Wise Registry Cleaner. Neither only points out my reoccurring problem [ %windir%\system32\CONIME.EXE does not exist] which it doesn’t but always returns – there is no satisfactory internet solution – short of buying something that claims to fix the missing “system” file. I have found after virus/root kit recoveries they are very useful. The gauntlet is thrown down Leo; benign and unnecessary or useful tool, or worse, destructive – start with the free ones please (^; David

  31. 198kHz Reply

    Hmmm – so, ‘ExpertPCUser’ and ‘GeekSquad’ disagree with Leo.

    I think I agree with the one with the sensible name! ;)

  32. Bonita Reply

    I was one of the ones who used a registry cleaner, highly rated, and ended up having to reinstall Windows. That was 3 years ago.

    Now, in lieu of a registry cleaner, if my system became very slow, I would go ahead and reinstall Windows before using a registry cleaner.

    Leo, or others very knowledgeable, can get away with using registry cleaners, because they know exactly what they are removing…the average user does not, and therein lies the crucial difference.

    If you are instructed by a tech support person to remove registry keys, do not just delete…first create a new folder, label the folder, click to EXPORT the registry key into the folder, which copies the key. Give it a descriptive name. Only then, delete the key.

    Do this for each reg key you are removing. Make a Notepad blurb to remind you what the keys were for.

    Now if you have problems, click one key at a time to MERGE it back into the registry.

  33. deyamag Reply

    My fundamental belief is that the best registry cleaner is no registry cleaner at all .

    Appreciate your advice.
    thanls.

  34. Dan Horvat Reply

    Makes sense, Leo.

    As a programmer I fear writing code which isn’t 100% perfect. Not 99.99%, that produces a big error sooner or later. Actually, 99.99% means the program will produce an error once every 10000 runs.

    Registry cleaners are fallible by default, as I believe it’s impossible to develop a one-size-fits-all solution for all the different system setups. And, registry cleaners delete things, making the process irreverisble. Making a system image isn’t feasible, as you may have a stable backup 2 weeks old, and in the meanwhile you worked a lot on your PC and installed new things.

    Ergo, registry cleaners are a time bomb by design and are bound to wreck the system sooner or later.

  35. will Reply

    registry cleaners, another money making scam. don’t waste your time or money.

  36. Jazz Reply

    Use it if you really know how. I do and it has fixed (or improved) many machines I have worked on, despite all the death threats and pompous retorts to my opinion. I use a free, and very user friendly, third party program to make a fresh registry backup first, then clean out what I am comfortable with, using a powerful reg cleaner. If the machine refuses to reboot, I use a boot CD to restore the registry (rarely needed). But it took years of sweat and tears to gather the knowledge to do it properly. No, please don’t ask me to proof how it improves things – if you don’t know, it simply illustrates your ignorance, but for the insistent ones: CLSID/activex/com, and entries you won’t find using simple key words, but this is dangerous ground for amateurs. I agree that the average user must avoid it, and that it’s not worth their time to gain the experience these days. Believe me, it is actually easier and faster to reinstall than to learn how to use a powerful reg cleaner properly. The CCleaner and other so-called safe programs, are virtually useless. Use them if you want to remove temps and caches for a little bit of privacy, but don’t waste your time trimming the registry with their infant reg cleaners – it’s a total waste of time that definitely does not justify the risk.

  37. BrianJM Reply

    I periodically use CCleaner but it’s usually before doing a full backup and/or to remove redundant entries which innefficient uninstallers leave behind. Admittedly some of these entries are generated long after the installer is finished and are not logged to the uninstaller. Finally, I usually run NTRegOpt to tidy it up.
    ~
    One thing I don’t like about CCleaner is that the only option with the erroneous entries appears to be to delete them, even though a simple edit may suffice.

  38. Anagnorisis Reply

    It occurs to me we’re replicately in the early days of television (yeah, I’m that old) relevant to home computers. We actually used to replace TV tubes ourselves. Computers, however, are way beyond typewriters and televisions and we need expert advice such as Leo’s. At fifteen years into this I’m competent albeit faking it most times. Suffice to summate, derogatory opinions do no good but only serve to complicate. Like TVs this will plausibly become a maintenance free technology imminently.

  39. Christina A. Johns Reply

    Lately, i have been using a free registry cleaner called Registry Recycler. For me, it probabally is the best free registry cleaner avialble today. It scans and fixes registry errors and speeds up PC

  40. J. A. Calcaterra Reply

    Leo, Thanks for the information. All information is good. Your posts are valuable AND bring forth additional data. It is up to the individual to determine it’s value to them. They just need to wade through those obvious label hypes and some folk that are just injecting noise to see themselves in print.

    While the focus is on “Registry Cleaners”. There are other reasons to ‘Manage’ the Registry than just arbitrarily ‘Clean it’.

    One such is the Downloaded Software and OEM freebies (that came with). Even though some individuals might consider them just a nuisance. That software does not NEED to be there. And after using the uninstall, they leave a trail through the registry for what purpose? Might be that fit the describe for a “Computer crime”?

    Example: search|”Connecticut Statutes Title 53. CRIMES Chapter 949G. COMPUTER CRIMES”|.

    As the owner of a computer leaving those entrails is without my permission(s).

    With that scenario in mind, a tool to remove that ‘junk’, is surely a valuable one. Do Registry cleaners offer that in some form? Don’t know.

    The information offered by Texas Mike (THANKS!) suggests that there is a tool specifically to rid the preinstalled and/or downloaded (and found to be not the right stuff) software. Especially saving time from the ‘find > delete > return > f3′ sequence to do it manually. Wonder if it will delete the ones the manual process responds with “DENIED!”.

    DENIED. Hmm. How criminal is that?

  41. Paul Reply

    I have used RegistryBooster 2 by Uniblue for years and never had any problems, and it actually seems to help when I have problems. Not every time, but sometimes. I used to use it fairly often, but now because I respect Leo’s advice I use it once in a blue moon.

  42. Richard Seaton Reply

    I use Revo Uninstaller which performs a registry clean-up after it has fully removed a program. I have never found a better way of entirely removing software from my system and Revo has never caused any problems – although I fully agree to backup your backup!!

  43. frankone Reply

    I have been involved with PC’s since the Beginning. I use C Cleaner, which allows you to save the old registry and edit you cleaning entries. 99% of the time if you have a registry problem none of these cleaners are going to solve the problem. Ist backup your system, before doing anything. 2nd Backup your system again. 3rd get on line or call an expert for help (when I have problem that I know nothing about, I use all the help I can get).

  44. James Reply

    I’m not going to claim to be an expert on how the registry works; however, I believe it’s simply just a database of values. It is organized to that those values can be found efficiently. Windows is not running programs through the registry or anything else like that. Windows looks up a value whenever Windows or another piece of software request the value. And when it is requested, the exact path is known.

    So what does it matter if there are entries left over that will never be requested? It’s not like Windows has to read every value to locate the one requested. The value is requested by its path.

    Now I suppose if half of your registry was filled with values which are not in use, you might have a performance issue, just like a highly defragmented hard drive will give you performance issues. For fun, I exported the registry on my Windows XP machine. It’s 59 mb. At that size, any drag in performance in getting to the correct registry key is going to hardly noticeable.

    I haven’t used a registry cleaner since Microsoft stopped making their cleaner.

  45. J. A. Calcaterra Reply

    Cal says: Thanks for the well written information.But I beg to differ.

    James says: I’m not going to claim to be an expert on how the registry works;

    Cal says: Good start. :-) Most experts are only that. At a point in time.

    James says: however, I believe it’s simply just a database of values. It is organized to that those values can be found efficiently.

    Cal says: Beliefs are a good thing. Mine? I believe, You believe. What you want to believe.

    James says: Windows is not running programs through the registry or anything else like that. Windows looks up a value whenever Windows or another piece of software request the value. And when it is requested, the exact path is known.

    Cal says: Would that be contradictory? Maybe kinda cornfusing. Not running programs. But looking up? More to actively using the registry. And possibly tripping over anomalies. Bad data?

    James says: So what does it matter if there are entries left over that will never be requested?

    Cal says: Hmmm, Never say never. So why do software companies leave their signatures (data) through out the Registry. AFTER using their uninstall programs? Just to harass the device owners? Kinda a ‘nanner nanner’? OR. Maybe they are ‘hooks’ that are grabbed if you visit (mouse over) links to their (or other) web links? And/Or One downloads and re installs an older/newer version, for a retry. Or, for what ever reason? Analogies to follow. Personal. And maybe legal?

    James says: It’s not like Windows has to read every value to locate the one requested. The value is requested by its path.

    Cal says: So what IS requesting the value or path? Just Windows? And is that the only way information in the Registry ,that is searched/looked/for, being used? See mouse over etc. above.

    James says: Now I suppose if half of your registry was filled with values which are not in use, you might have a performance issue, just like a highly defragmented hard drive will give you performance issues. For fun, I exported the registry on my Windows XP machine. It’s 59 mb. At that size, any drag in performance in getting to the correct registry key is going to hardly noticeable.

    Cal says: Unless? There is a new problem or other existing problems that add too the ‘drag’?

    James says: I haven’t used a registry cleaner since Microsoft stopped making their cleaner.

    Cal says: Might that it be interpreted as there isn’t something wrong with your equipment. OR… Just that it has occurred and wasn’t obvious to you? Or, your a might more careful downloading that new tool and not having to wonder where that toolbar (or extra stuff) came from that you can’t get rid of. Possibly that new registry entry says ‘DENIED” when one attempts to delete it?

    Put there by a hacker? Sorry, forget that last line.

    Analogies. Personal: Buying a new or even a used car. Or Having it serviced and finding a dealers license plate ring after signing the papers. AS it is now my car. Wouldn’t that be my choice to put my preferences there. Be it a plain ring OR a social organization or statement. Having it serviced and finding a different ring. Legal? They ‘stole’ the one that was there.

    Computer laws on tampering with a computer that isn’t yours.
    There are plenty of references on the Internet for that.

    Bottom line. That extraneous data need not be there. Whether some have a belief that ‘It doesn’t really matter’. Or not.

  46. Jack Reacher Reply

    Wow Leo, some of the contrary responses are far more vitriolic than those on Windows 8 eh? We don’t see eye to eye on that one at all but we’re perfectly sympatico on this one. I’m pretty well convinced that even knowing it doesn’t help, as some so conflictingly revealed, they are just the folks among us who cannot stand the idea of any useless clutter. Whereas Windows can ignore useless clutter and move directly to its purpose, we as humans might tend to think, well, if I don’t pick up that Leggo block now, sure as heck I’ll step on it in the middle of the night on my way to the bathroom!

  47. Raymond Reply

    I agree with Leo…99.99% of the time the best Registry Cleaner is NO Registry Cleaner at all..To the Member of the GeekSquad…well your affiliation speaks for itself…not too highly thought of in computer user circles…

  48. J. A. Calcaterra Reply

    Jack, Reaching for extremes, says: Wow Leo, some of the contrary responses are far more vitriolic than those on Windows 8 eh? We don’t see eye to eye on that one at all but we’re perfectly sympatico on this one.

    Cal says: Vitriolic ? As opposed to? Feel good do nothing statements like “useless clutter”.

    Jack, Reaching for extremes, says: I’m pretty well convinced that even knowing it doesn’t help, as some so conflictingly revealed, they are just the folks among us who cannot stand the idea of any useless clutter.

    Cal Says: Repetition of an opinionated claim like “useless clutter” (Implying dormant?) doesn’t change anything. Would be good to offer something based on facts.

    Jack, Reaching for extremes, says: Whereas Windows can ignore useless clutter and move directly to its purpose,

    Cal says: Stating Windows ignores that “useless clutter” (again), shows that you choose to ignore that Windows isn’t the only access to the registry. Most downloaded (and OEM) software has access to and deposits what it thinks is necessary for Windows, and it’s OWN applications, to use (and/or trip over) the data set in place there. One example might be the nag screens some put there. Directing Windows to use and place it in ones face. And, some resolves for that is to remove/change Registry entry’s.

    Jack, Reaching for extremes, says: we as humans might tend to think, well, if I don’t pick up that Leggo block now, sure as heck I’ll step on it in the middle of the night on my way to the bathroom!

    Cal says: Good point and that would be whom doing the stepping. Yourself? And any other of the occupants? Including kids. Are you suggesting child endangerment?

    Analogies are good. They offer comparisons to make a point. And sometimes can lead to sticking oneself with it.

    To all reading this exchange. I’m NOT advocating ANY ‘Registry cleaners’. I am looking for a tool that I can manage the excess data strewn about the registry. As I see fit.

    I DO take issue with those that ‘appear’ to have knowledge, but only offer wind. Even parroting others that don’t attempt to provide supporting data. Who knows. May even be the same ‘troll’.

    Leo, Thanks for letting me, as your comment section states, ‘Speak Your (My) Mind’. I appreciate you newsletter. I have found and applied several items from it. Especially the time I save using AutoHotKey (AHK) information offered a while back.

  49. Mick Reply

    If you use a good uninstaller like Revo or Advanced Uninstaller Pro from your first windows installation you will not require a registry cleaner at all. The other advantage of using these types of software correctly is you do not need to restart your computer after removing programs.
    Mick

  50. Brian Reply

    These opinions are so very esoteric but what is lacking from the community is a statement of how good Registry Cleaners are. The auguments concentrate on whether they do any harm, rather than whether they do what they are supposed to do.
    If you used a Registry Cleaner, can you quantify what improvement it provided?
    To those who use a Registry Cleaner every week, why do you do that?

    • Mark Jacobs Reply

      Brian, if a registry cleaner has the potential to harm your computer, any improvement in performance would be rendered useless if an important registry key were deleted. Therefore, there’s not much reason to talk about potential improvements.

  51. Tushar Reply

    If a perfect working certified cleaner is used..
    then its very easy to clean registry very easily
    and that too without any risks.
    beside , support team is available.
    i use Regclean pro ,
    of what Corel corp. is copying now a days.
    so we can say that registry cleaner are somehow useful and thats why corel is interested in spending their time on such softwares. ( my tastes)

    • Leo Reply

      I have no idea what a “perfect working certified” cleaner would be. My opinion still stands: last resort only.

  52. Marsha (koenig) Reply

    MY pc was getting slower by the day. Folders and pix were disappearing, shortcuts stopped working, even reloading them didn’t help for long. Read your thoughts and comments, then downloaded the PC cleaner at the bottom of your page. It’s expensive but it seems to have WORKED!! Bonus is I did not have to lug the tower to the Staples or Office Depot Techs &
    have it gone for 3-4 days. I am a grandma and that’s important to me.
    A “geeky” friend who’s worked in computers since the 60′s told me he trusted your advice.
    Thank you.
    Marsha

  53. John Paul Reply

    I’ve had one of these problems with registry cleaners recently. I had a malfunctioning application and i was almost certain that it was because of some slight error in the windows registry, so i decided to use iobit’s registry fixer on my Windows 8.1 computer. when i finished part of the HKEY CURRENT USER that allowed the opening of windows applications was deleted, and since i couldn’t open “PC Settings” I could not preform a system restore. Then i thought wait This is
    HKEY –CURRENT USER– so I decided to simply create a new user account but it turned out that you had to access “PC Settings” to add a new user account. Then i had a moment of brilliant inspiration I think, “Why don’t i just use CMD to add a user account?” and now here i am feeling so dumb because i spent 3 hrs on something that could have taken me 5 minutes.

    • Mark Jacobs Reply

      3 hrs to solve a problem that should have taken 5 minutes? Welcome to the club! That’s pretty normal in the IT world. Fixing a problem is usually fast. Finding out what the problem is, that’s a whole ‘nother ball of chewing gum.

  54. Chris Reply

    I believe a tool to repair / optimize registry should be used when you find yourself considering to reformat your computer. If you’ve been using your pc for over 5 years without any repairs and its causing you problems such as: in my case my pc has been crashing, freezing, lagging and it takes a very long time for it to start or shut down, its time to try a registry repair.

    If only they made registry tools that were specific to your version of Windows so it would be less likely to cause side effects. I need a tool that can diagnose missing drivers, files and fix corrupted registry and optomize my pc, if anyone has any suggestions.

    • Leo Reply

      I don’t agree that this would be a time to use a registry cleaner. Sometimes reformatting and reinstalling truly is the best solution.

  55. Bruce Ritz Reply

    I enjoyed reading the back and forth, and for now, will hold off on trying a registry cleaner.
    It sounds like a can of worms.

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