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Are there reliable programs for cleaning your registry?

By beauty · 13 replies
Dec 23, 2010
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  1. I was reading about how uninstalling programs does not mean the registry is cleared of entries that are no longer needed and about how this can slow down your machine.

    Are there any reliable programs that can identify and delete the unnecessary entries?

    I don't mind buying one as long as it would be effective and not mess up my machine.

  2. pjamme

    pjamme TS Enthusiast Posts: 208

    Standard belief is that CC Cleaner from Piriform is the best. But use and registry cleaner with caution.
  3. beauty

    beauty TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 64

    thanks! When you say use it with caution, what should I avoid doing?
  4. pjamme

    pjamme TS Enthusiast Posts: 208

    Backup registry first, open regedit and export entire to My documents.
    Then read directions on CC Cleaner carefully and start small the first time.
    I have never had an issue but it can happen.
  5. beauty

    beauty TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 64

    thanks again!
  6. be_patient

    be_patient TS Rookie Posts: 103

    I can second CCleaner. I have been using it, without issue, for at least 3 years now.

    When you run the cleaner is actually gives you the ability to backup your registry file, just make sure you do.
  7. bobcat

    bobcat TechSpot Paladin Posts: 688   +67

    This is a constantly recurring subject and there are innumerous threads dealing with it in this section alone. One of the reasons it keeps reappearing, apart from lack of searching, is that there is no unanimity on the matter, but just people’s opinions, sometimes informed, sometimes entirely subjective or induced by ads.

    For your benefit as you are a newcomer, I repeat my previously expressed opinion, formed after considering the evidence:

    1 To do proper registry cleaning, you have to do it manually. For that, you need expert knowledge not only of the registry itself but also of the particular app involved
    2 Automatic registry cleaners are of any real use only in the rarest of cases
    3 At the same time, they can cause trouble, the probability for which is much higher than that of any expected gains
    4 Registry debris doesn’t cause problems, because the system only loads what is actually being used
    5 Registry backups only help partially, since the problem may manifest itself at a much later point.

    Based on the above, my advice is to leave the registry alone. But if you have to intervene, a temptation apparently found irresistible by many users, then at least use an almost safe, albeit equally ineffective cleaner, and CCleaner is such.
  8. beauty

    beauty TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 64

    Bobcat - are there any good references on the Windows registry that you can point me to? I find the Microsoft online support information not very easy to navigate so I was wondering if there are any better references to use. Thanks.
  9. CAMusing

    CAMusing TS Enthusiast Posts: 179

  10. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    I personally would leave the registry well alone, unless it absolutely needs to be touched.

    If your going to entrust your registry to an automated registry tool, make sure you make a full backup of the registry BEFORE using it.
  11. danG3174

    danG3174 TS Rookie Posts: 29

    interesting points of view about registry. I've been using system mechanic for probably 5 yrs. now and it not only works, but has brought at least 5 computers back from a non-usable state.
  12. garyhope

    garyhope TS Rookie

    What DOES slow down a computer over time?

    Thanks Bobcat. I tend to agree with you about changing the registry. I wouldn't have a clue about what I was doing with fooling around in the registry. I'd like to believe that there are some simple solutions to computer slow down, but then I'd like to belive in Santa Claus or "free" anything which I don't.

    So, in your knowledge or opinion what is the chief cause of computer slow down over time? Too many start up programs? Bad spacehog, cpu intensive anti- virus programs? Junked up hard drives? Bad Apps? To my observation MS Internet Explorer seems to be a resourse hog as well as Yahoo Messenger.

    Do you have any hints about cleaning up and limiting the start up files and menu?

    Thanks for any hints or help.

  13. mike1959

    mike1959 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,031   +54

    As a rule, in my opinion, it's best to not make changes to the registry.
    But, over time, if you install and uninstall many, or 100's of programs, the registry will be slowly filled with entries that refer to programs that are long gone.
    They will slow the PC, very slightly. The real problems are if you download malware or virus that aims to make changes to the registry, and then you do need to take some action to get your PC back to a working state. Windows restore is very useful, but using a good anti-virus and firewall is the best way to avoid problems in the first place. I have used CCleaner since Win98, and it has always worked for me, but it is a very 'light' scanner, and is designed not to give you more trouble than not using it.
    That said, I have worked on many pc's that had no maintenence done on them, ever, and they were almost unuseable. Then I did use a registry repair program, plus defrag and optimise software, which made a massive difference, and saved having to reinstall windows form scratch.
    If you try different Anti-virus programs, use one at any time, and use the maker's uninstaller program to remove it, rather than 'add/remove'.
    Notice that many programs you install will try to start with windows at every boot, that is what slows the pc down. So you can look in the program's options, untick the option 'start with windows' or similar. It's worth learning about 'msconfig' and the 'startup' tab, to control what starts at boot. Hope that helps !
  14. bobcat

    bobcat TechSpot Paladin Posts: 688   +67

    @ garyhope

    First of all, welcome to TS garyhope, an excellent source for computer help, information and participation in intellectual discussions. For your own benefit, to enable optimum assistance, you are advised to enter your system specs in your CP, as asked by the board.

    Now, your question hits the nail on the head, or rather a whole bed of nails simultaneously. Moreover, passing from nails to pins, you have pinpointed many major computer braking systems. The theoretical solution is simple, namely tackle each and every one of the culprits. Of course, this is easier said than done, but this is not the right section for giving full instructions on the multiplicity of tasks involved. To that extent, you can find much material in the tuts section - Guides and Tutorials – that’s what it’s for.

    However, as a brief and easy starter pack supplementing mike’s (a past tutor of mine) expert advice, here are some things you can do.

    If you’re using Vista, the biggest resources hog I know of, go over to Windows 7.

    First of all, have a critical look at all the apps you have installed and uninstall all the ones you are not using. You not only improve performance and gain space, but also reduce the target area of malware aimed at you.

    Secondly, replace resource hogs with lighter apps. Typical example is the heavyweight Adobe reader, which should be replaced by the featherweight Foxit Reader or something similar, see relevant thread in this section. If your antivirus is holding up your system excessively, a frequently occurrence, replace it by a lighter one, such as the excellent and free Avira.

    Thirdly, stop all apps starting on their own unnecessarily. The best tool I know of doing this is Autoruns by Microsoft SysInternals. Download from MS or e.g. here:


    Leave auto-starting system services alone for now, the expected gains are small and the risks of stopping them far greater.

    Fourth, do the much neglected disk defragmentation, but don’t expect spectacular gains, since modern NTFS systems don’t get anything like as fragmented as older Fat 32 ones.

    Lastly, or rather firstly, do a backup of the whole system partition, not just the registry, before you start.

    OK, I have to stop now, or I’ll be driving the tuts section out of business and some readers out of patience.

    If you are scared and/or lazy and want to buy your way out, get more memory. It’s dirty cheap and damn effective.

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