Cleaning the Registry

Posted on 2011-04-21
Last Modified: 2012-08-13
OK! I have followed the registry cleaning debate or debacle, depending on how you view it for many years. Personally, I am a believer in registry cleaners even if my view might be misguided. You see it posted everywhere- "no respectible tech would ever use or recommend using a registry cleaner". The seemingly bais against registry cleaners by many techs has always left a bit of a doubt in the back of my mind, however, I have been an avid user of such tools since the days of Windows 95, 98, ME, Xp and now Windows 7. I maintain and care for about 20 computers of family members and I never seem to have the issues that they and others seem to experience. My professional techs have even commented on numerous occasions about the excellent conditions of my computers which they get to work on occassional when I decide to experiment with something that was better left alone.

This past week, one of my 8 grandkids brought me a Windows 7 computer that was almost dead. Boot up time 2 minutes 23 seconds and programs took forever to open. You know how kids are. They will download anything, especially if it is free. First cleaned up the massively overloaded start and process sections. Ran CCleaner and removed 946 MB. RegSeeker removed 19,682 registry entries on the first run and 3,412 on the second run. RegVac removed 1821 entries. NTREGOPT fixed a 32% fragmented drive.

As I said, I rarely ever have an issue with any of my 3 computers and I routinely run all my cleaners on a weekly basis and have for years. Given all the entries removed, why would that not be a good thing for the health of any computer?
Question by:anaron
    LVL 30

    Assisted Solution

    by:Paul Sauvé

    You are correct, many techs do not recommend registry cleaners, however this free software allows you to at least back up your registry before cleaning: Wise Registry Cleaner that I found on Gizmo's Freeware website, who says:

    "I am not a fan of Registry cleaners.  They have a nasty habit of removing things that are vital to the correct operation of commercial software.
    That aside, even finding a specific Registry Cleaner free of charge for Windows 7 / Vista 64 is no easy task .  People on many forums recommend Wise Registry Cleaner. It only handles that part of the registry visible to 32 bit applications, but is the most satisfactory product I have come across."

    So the answer to your question is: They have a nasty habit of removing things that are vital to the correct operation of commercial software. The advantage of this software is that you have the option of restoring the registry...

    I hope that helps.


    Author Comment

    LVL 33

    Assisted Solution

    I'm with you. I have been using them for years, with no adverse effects.
    At the moment, Ccleaner is my weapon of choice.

    From what I can tell, the main problem was that some of the "high-end" cleaners were too aggressive, and would take out things they shouldn't have.

    While leaving unneeded, empty, and broken entries in the Registry is not suppose to be harmful, I like the idea of having the Reg "tight and clean".
    This reduces the size of the Reg file, so Windows doesn't have to plow through as much to get what it needs.

    The only cleaner I had an issue with, was Zappit .
    After using it a few times with no problem, it stopped a W98 system from booting.
    In all fairness, I don't think Zappit was completely to blame, but I never used it again.
    LVL 38

    Expert Comment

    by:Aaron Tomosky
    Ccleaner is great. I don't use it on a regular basis but I do use it after an uninstall and it cleans up nicely.
    LVL 47

    Assisted Solution

    Also look at PageDefrag

    That'll defrag the Registry files for you at startup if you choose the right options.  They'll probably be fragmented if you are running your registry cleaners regularly.

    But paulsauve and coral47 have made the comments as to why registry cleaners are not recommended.  And Microsoft don't recommend them as well (but I can't find any link for that).

    If you're happy using them then go for it (and you seem well aware of the risks).

    LVL 91

    Accepted Solution

    i am not against using registry cleaners - i only am against them running on automatic
    this removes things you don't want
    i use personally (if i must) Regseeker to remove the specific keys for a given program -  and nothing else.
    cleaning up the registry - for me - does not bring about a better speed, startup or otherwise imo, but removing items from startup does

    and i am a fan of reinstalling everything from scratch -  if i see too many problems - it takes time, but saves much more in the end, and at least, i'm sure it is ok.

    only my personal view...
    LVL 47

    Assisted Solution

    I use to have JV16, Registry Mechanic, TuneUp Utilities.
    Registry cleaners are not harmful for advanced users.... but for inexperienced users who just click and "Fix" without checking to make sure that those reported entries are really redundant, that's when registry cleaners CAN be harmful.

    Yes, some reg cleaners tend to remove reg values that are not really orphaned which may cause e.g., buttons in add/remove programs to be missing etc.

    But, are registry cleaners worth the risk for inexperienced users?
    Even if there are lots of orphaned entries in the registry, it really doesn't matter that much....You probably won't notice the difference in speed when searching the registry, and how often do we search the registry?
    When you clean your registry often your registry will become fragmented which means then you would also need to defrag it.

    Author Closing Comment

    Reg cleaners are good tools - in the right hands. The bad raps generally come from those hoping for a miracle that never appears.
    LVL 33

    Expert Comment

    Thank you much.    : )

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