Let’s say you download the so-called top two registry cleaners. You perform
a scan with the first, and allow it to clean the errors.
Now you use the “other” cleaner, run a scan and it shows hundreds of
Back to the first, scan again and it still shows zero errors.
I’m beginning to think these cleaners are all made up and only show errors
until you purchase the product. Once you do so they then show that they “did
their job” and that your computer is in great shape after the scan.
What’s your take?
I have mixed feelings about registry cleaners in general, and one reason is
that there are indeed less-than-reputable companies who are indeed doing things
much like you suspect, and worse.
However there are several very legitimate products, and guess what? You’ll
get different results between them as well.
The reason may surprise you.
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First, I need to be up front and let you know that some of the companies
that create and sell registry cleaners and optimization programs are occasional
direct (i.e. non-Google) advertisers here on Ask Leo!. I say that up front to
hopefully avoid concerns that I might be influenced by them, and to allow you
to make your own decisions well-informed.
Ads that show up in the Google ad blocks are, largely, out of my control,
but I only accept direct advertising from companies that I believe are
But that doesn’t imply that I think that their products are always
In fact my stance on registry cleaners is pretty clear: 99% of the time
I don’t think they’re needed at
means for the registry to be ‘clean’.”
So, why might different registry cleaners return different results?
In short, because there’s actually no definition of what it really means for
the registry to be “clean”.
Oh, there are some obvious things, like perhaps references to files and
software that no longer exist. But the bottom line is that the registry is such
a complex collection of data that it’s nearly impossible to encapsulate all the
rules of what can and cannot be cleaned, what’s safe to remove and what’s not,
into a single cleaning program.
This concept of “safe” is also a very important difference. It’s not always
obvious whether a particular cleaning action will, in fact, be safe and not
have unintended side-effects. Many registry cleaners will allow you to specify
how “aggressive” they are to be, and others simply select a particular level of
what they feel is reasonable.
Neither are wrong, but neither can be completely right either. It’s just not
And it’s another source of differences between the different products.
The model of telling you what’s wrong for free but then charging you to fix
it is, in fact, a legitimate sales approach. Unfortunately it’s also abused by
various malware and other companies to occasionally scare you into buying
things you don’t need, or worse, installing malware on your machine.
So how do you tell what’s what?
In my opinion it’s all about reputation. Do a little research and see what
independent (and again, reputable) third party sites report on various tools.
See what discussion groups say. Even my article that says that registry cleaners aren’t typically
needed includes a couple of recommendations.
To further complicate matters, purveyors of malware and disreputable tools
appear to be very good at deception. Take care that you aren’t reading
“planted” testimonials, watch out for “sound-alike” product names, and other
But the bottom line is that as long as you take care to find and use
reputable products, and follow their instructions, taking care to always backup
first, you should be fine.
Even if the reputable products give different results from each other.