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Safe registry cleaner for SBS03/WS03

Posted on 2006-11-27
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
Hello.  There are a variety of opinions as to the best registry cleaners in the XP/2K arena (I've had good luck with Registry Mechanic), but I'm wondering if anyone working with Small Biz Server 03 (R1) and Win Server 03 have one that they have deemed "safe" for use in that environment?  Although I did not have too many forced restarts of my SBS 2000 machine over the years I can't help thinking it would have 'hummed' along a bit better (and perhaps booted a bit quicker) if the registry had been freed of residue from app installs/uninstalls.  As I am about to bring a new SBS 2003 machine online I'd like to clean up the registry before defragging and imaging the drive.  Any suggestions or recommendations?  Thanks.
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Question by:pierc2
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Expert Comment

by:budchawla
ID: 18028659
Hi pierc2,
I have never run a commercial registry cleaner on a server, so I'm probably not answering your question as such, but I would (1) personally avoid it, especially if no real issues around and (2) recommend that anything you do use allows a high level of manual control, so that you can manually select what gets cleaned up and which ones don't.
One thing I have used for Windows Server 2003 is the Windows Installer Cleanup Utility, which you can find at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/290301.
As I understand it, you aren't facing any 'problems' as such with the SBS2000 box, and if you're switching to a new clean SBS2003 box, why bother running a registry cleaner on it? I'm a bit confused about whether you're already running SBS2003, or running SBS2000 and about to move to SBS2003!
Cheers
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Author Comment

by:pierc2
ID: 18029598
Yes, I would only consider using such a tool on a server if it clearly laid out each item so I could accept or decline the change, and it should back up the registry, of course, which are both things that good workstation reg cleaners offer.  My current production server is SBS 2000, but I have built a new server based on SBS 2003 (R1) using Jeff Middleton's Swing Migration method and am about to swap it in place.  I've found that even after installing a few apps on workstations there is residue in the registry, which led me to believe I would be better off if I could do a careful clean of the new server.  In any case, I heard or read somewhere that Vista was going to have some system 'cleaning' tools but wasn't aware there was anything for WS03, so many thanks for the link and for your input!
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Expert Comment

by:budchawla
ID: 18029758
Hi again,

I'm still not sure why you want to run a registry cleaner on a "clean" install, albeit a swing migration of sbs 2003, especially since you say that you've installed apps on the workstations, not the new server! At any rate, I found a couple of things you may find useful:

The first is CleanMyPC (which I have quite successfully used to fix many PCs over the last couple of years), says that it supports Server 2003 , including x64 versions. I'm not sure if that means too much, but I have used the product on PCs and never had an issue, and it does allow you a good level of control over the process. http://www.registry-cleaner.net/

The second is this review of AMUST Registry Cleaner: http://www.techbuilder.org/views/168600540.

I know that your question is basically "if anyone working with Small Biz Server 03 (R1) and Win Server 03 have one that they have deemed "safe" for use in that environment", and I'm not even trying to answer it, because in all honesty, even though I've used CleanMyPC without a problem so far, I don't know if I'd go so far as to call it "safe", even on PCs. If I were to use it on a non-production server, I would probably do a full backup (or ghost the drive), put it in a safe, run the reg cleaner and burn-in the server a few days to see that it actually works fine!

I'm interested to see what experiences / advice others will contribute here...
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Author Comment

by:pierc2
ID: 18030155
Thanks budchawla.  I guess it's the organizer guy in me that is used to updating a workstation, tweaking settings, removing the leftovers from the reg, and defragging.  Those systems seem to hum along pretty well.  Even though the server is a new system I did go through the whole installation process and have installed additional apps and I suspect, based on my experience with the workstations that there is likely to be residue in the registry.  I figure the leaner the system in all respects the better, but I am no server guru, rather a guy who built his first 286 way back when and has basically learned all things computer since then as, I like to put it, "from the middle out."  So, I was curious if any of you folks with more server experience had ever dealt with this, or felt the need.  And yes, even though the tools do offer ways to back out, I would still not do something like this on a server I have spent a lot of time setting up and 'customizing' without making an image of the boot array.  I'm a big advocate of drive imaging and will actually be utilizing it as my means of backup via removable SATA drives in CRU cassettes (I'm done with tape).  Acronis True Image even allows me to image the boot array right inside Windows so I have a dedicated backup drive for images of C:\ and you can bet I'll be making them from time to time as the system config evolves.  Yep, already got the safe.  I will look into the tools you recommended but rest assured my intention was never to be cavalier about this.  Thanks again for the insights.

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Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy earned 500 total points
ID: 18030191
As you stated, the main reasons that registries get cluttered is due to installing and unstalling software.  But I don't quite understand why you would think that the registry would be dirty on a NEW OS install.  Are you meaning that you are migrating your server to new hardware?

At any rate, even though I don't think you need one, there is really only one Registry Cleaner program that I know of which is compatible with Server 2003, is http://www.amustsoft.com/RegistryCleaner.  It's a fairly good program and doesn't get too invasive with things that it shouldn't delete.

However, the program that I use most is Tune-Up Utilities 2006 (www.tune-up.com).  When it is installed on a Server 2003 machine, it'll pop up a warning that it's going on an unsuported system... which you can safely acknowledge and then continue with the install.

Jeff
TechSoEasy

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Expert Comment

by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
ID: 18030203
Sorry, that was sitting on my desktop for at least the last hour before I clicked "submit" so I didn't see the other responses.  :-)

Jeff
TechSoEasy
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Expert Comment

by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
ID: 18030224
If you're doing a Swing Migration, then it doesn't matter what's in your registry, actually, because you aren't bringing that over to your new server. You're only migrating Active Directory Accounts, Exchange and File Data for the most part... so don't worry about your old server at this point.

Jeff
TechSoEasy
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Author Comment

by:pierc2
ID: 18030489
Jeff, I understand that I wasn't bringing anything over when going the Swing Migration route.  It would have been different if it was an in-place migration or even using Acronis' Universal Restore.  I guess the reason I thought there might be some extraneous stuff (maybe a better way to label it than 'residue') even in a new system is because it seemed, even after setting up a new XP workstation, that the registry cleaner would find a few MS items that had been orphaned,  no longer actually linked to anything.  So, I thought the same might be true in a server set up, but I do appreciate that even if that is so it would likely have  negligible, if any, impact on the system.  The main thing is you've given me a couple options on utilities that I can use down the line.  Thanks!
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Expert Comment

by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
ID: 18032379
That's true that a registry cleaner would find orphaned Microsoft keys in a new install.  This is because things like Office have various options and plug-ins that are not always enabled... yet the registry keys are created to be prepared for them.  You generally don't want to delete these.

Jeff
TechSoEasy
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Author Comment

by:pierc2
ID: 18032864
Thanks.  That's good to know.

You sound like you can advise me on certificates for use of the RWW in SBS.  Keep an eye out for a new question coming up shortly.
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