How to compact the SYSTEM hive of the registry?
Posted on 2003-12-02
Whenever I do something to my system (which otherwise works fine) that causes the SYSTEM-hive of the registry (i.e. the file C:\WinNT\System32\config\SYSTEM) to grow a few bytes I get a "loader error 4" during a subsequent reboot.
I have experimented by now with several different devices, which all used to work with the very same version of their drivers (e.g. it's enough to simply plug in a USB-device into a different port of my hub...) that I have come to the conclusion, that this is not actually a problem of a specfic driver nor some problem with one of the installation programs or such, but rather that I seem to have bumped into some size limit of the registry! I suspect, that I have reached some filebuffer size or some other limit so that my SYSTEM hive can not be loaded into memory during the very first boot phase (the one that starts with the black and white rectangles along the bottom of the screen).
My SYSTEM file is currently at 9'936 KB and I tried de- and re-installing a few devices, but whenever the SYSTE'file's size grows to 9'940 or beyond, I am hosed and I get this darn "loader error 4". I then always copy down a backup of that file and I'm up and running again.
The idotic thing is: I *can* (re-)install new devices, and I even can use them - all fine - I only MUST NOT reboot after installing them, since then I get this darn "loader error 4" and have to copy back my old SYSTEM file.
So - in short: I want to compact and clean the SYSTEM hive of my registry: Is there any program out there, that really cleans and compacts the registry, particulary the SYSTEM part? I tried a few registry cleaners so far (Norton, MS RegClean, RegDrill, RegScrub, and a few others), but they all clean out only unused or false class definitions, left behind SW settings, dangling application paths, etc. which is all fine and usefull but all these changes eventually refer to stuff that sits in the SOFTWARE part of the registry, none of them so far cleaned anything, that caused my SYSTEM file to shrink.
Since I have attached tons of devices and gadgets to my system over the last couple of years I seem to have an abundance of obsolete drivers and device entries (e.g. when I go to Control Panel => Add/Remove Hardware Wizard => Uninstall/Unplug a device => Uninstall a device and then check the "show hidden devices" checkbox, I see TONS of devices that are obsolete and many others that appear 10, 15 or even more times (e.g. the MS mouse driver or some scan-pen that I use). How can one clean up the superfluous entries? Uninstalling these via the above dialog takes AGES and one always has to restart from the control panel again so I consider that not an appropriate way to remove 200 or more entries. There must be some faster way, e.g. by zapping the corresponding subtrees in the registry. But for that I would first need a decent description and a better understanding of how these devices and their drivers and settings are organized in the registry. Any good pointers on that subject?