I've messed with the registry now my computer freezes. I want to remove old programs

By jckinnick ยท 31 replies
May 24, 2010
  1. The other day Uniblue Registry Cleaner updated their program but when i went to use the new updated program it wasn't cleaning all my registry and was not working right. I went in and looked at my registry and found all kinds of old programs like AOL, Napster, Kazza and some other things. I deleted the Aol stuff but left the others just to be safe for the time being. I uninstalled Unilbue after days of not getting a response and installed another program called Advanced System Care which seems to work fine but my computer still freezes at least once or twice a day usually when i run a scan, disk clean, or defrag. After using the Advanced System Care programs registry cleaner i went back and looked at my registry and some Aol stuff is still there. I'm wanting to get rid of all the old software that is still stored in my registry key and try and fix my computer from freezing. I'm running Windows Xp 32 bit on a Dell Dimension 2400. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks
  2. ucould2

    ucould2 TS Guru Posts: 271

  3. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Best thing to try is a repair install of Windows XP, cold booting to your install disk, then looking for the second selection of R for Repair, not repair console.

    You should save all your data, because a lot of those registry errors you describe to too difficult to repair, and a clean install is effective, and faster.
  4. leeleses

    leeleses TS Rookie

    I agree. I know it's work. But here's what I would do.

    I would try to obtain a Dell Windows XP Pro Service Pack 3 (blue and white in color) off EBay for about $5-20 dollars.

    I would do a clean install formating the hard drive and then installing the XP from scratch. A little known fact is with the Dell XP disks, if you install it fresh from DOS it "auto keys and auto activates" it, so absolutely no hassles later.

    Then reinstall your drivers and you'll be in great shape.

    Then I would use Norton Partion Magic and Norton Ghost to make a D partition on your hard drive, and copy your new C partition to D as a backup.

    In the future, if you back up your important documents, you can always restore it to like new in only a few minutes using the backup you made on D.

    Hope this helps,

  5. jckinnick

    jckinnick TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 148

    I use Ccleaner regularly as well, but the old programs are still on my computer.

    I guess i should have noted that there is a little more to the story. About two days earlier before the the Uniblue incident i installed Driver Reviver and updated all my old drivers, but i don't think that has anything to do with it because it didn't start freezing until the Uniblue update. I should also mention that when Unilbue was doing a registry defragment after i upgraded that the program itself froze up not the computer, only later did the computer start freezing. Also there was a warning about not stopping the defragment while it was processing that it could cause harm to your computer.

    I should also say that i deleted some old program files that i don't use anymore from my C drive as well.

    Will deleting the old programs that you don't use from your registry manually harm your computer? For example i noticed the Uniblue program was in my registry after ive already uninstalled it.
  6. jckinnick

    jckinnick TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 148

    I was looking at my drivers in the device manager and noticed a yellow question mark. I clicked the yellow question mark and updated the driver and now there is an Modem - Conexant D850 56K V.9x DFVc Modem installed. Im hoping this was what was causing my computer to freeze.

    If that wasn't it could somebody help answer my question about deleting old program files from the registry and the c drive? Will this harm my computer if i delete some of those old program files?

    What about deleting old files from C drive?

    I thought that the driver update had fixed it since it seemed to be running a little better, but it started freezing again. So i guess where i deleted all those old Aol files from the registry is the cause?
  7. leeleses

    leeleses TS Rookie


    It's doubtful that the yellow question mark would cause your computer to freeze, but time will tell.

    There is something called "shared files" in which certain program files share certain files. Many things in Windows are cross connected and share things, Automatic uninstallers know what they can delete and what they should not delete, at least if they were made right by their designer. Once an automatic uninstaller has deleted a program file and the computer has run correctly for a week or two, it's generally safe to delete any folders with the deleted program's name on them from the programs folder.

    A lot of people get way overconfident and start getting obsessed with "getting rid of or cleaning out all the nonsense in their computer." This often leads to more problems than it was worth.

    The registry is VERY complicated. Unless you know exactly what you are doing, it is to be left alone. If you know how to use something similar to Norton Ghost, then you can tinker, knowing you can use a backup image to restore the machine to the way it was if you make a mistake. IMO, even registry cleaning programs can be dangerous if you don't have a backup image, because they can make mistakes too and delete the wrong thing,

    It's a known fact that most Windows installations need to be completely reinstalled fresh every 2-5 years, depending on how you use your machine. The registry just gets too messed up to fix after a while.

    I learned a lot about the registry when I was trying to sell a computer I did not want to redo from scratch and I was trying to find and replace everywhere in the registry that my name was listed as the owner of a program and replace it with the new owner's name. This is key - you know it's relatively safe to go replacing your name because you know it's only in there to show up in programs as you being the listed owner, not to run some critical thing in your computer. Well, I found that my name was in there about 100 times! And, I believe in the case of Office XP (Office 2002), my name was actually in there in code in some spots so if you searched for my name in the registry you would not find it, but if you opened Word, my name was still there. I use this as an example to show you how complex the registry is. It is not to be messed with unless you know exactly what you are doing for sure and also have a backup (in case you didn't know what you thought you did - LOL).

    I think there is also a way to save/backup only the registry to a file, but I don't bother with that because I use Norton Ghost.

    Hope this helps.

  8. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    Very wise words :grinthumb

    1. In general, i'd strongly advise you stay away from registry cleaners. The more "aggressive" the cleaner the more likely it will only screw up your system. And it's just not worth it. That said, the only registry cleaner i'll use/trust is CCleaner. On the one hand it only does "basic" cleanup, on other hand i've never had any issue with it on any computer (mine or others). CCleaner registry will also cleanup much (not necessarily) all program "leftovers"

    2. I'd also recommend Revo Uninstaller (freeware version is just fine) to uninstall your programs and search for registry entries to delete as well.

    3. And, as leeleses already said, i also wouldn't recommend trying to delete things by hand as, frankly, any marginal gain is small and is far outweighed by the risk of screwing things up when you do (unless you're religious at running disk image backups - my own tool of choice is Acronis True Image Home)
  9. leeleses

    leeleses TS Rookie


    Thank you! It was great to hear that SOMEONE doesn't think I'm an *****! LOL

    I have so many people who call me who think its this simple thing saying, I want all the nonsense out of my computer. I want to hand them an XP cd and say, "get cracking with a clean install!" After all, thats why they call it a CLEAN install! LOL

    It made me think of something else. I've been curious for a while, in MSCONFIG in XP, there are items in selective startup that are stiil listed in there even though the programs they went with are long since uninstalled.

    Do you know where in Windows those references to the long uninstalled programs are stored, and if it's safe or possible to get rid of them? I wondered if somewhere in Windows there was something similar to a text file with references to the different programs that are in selective startup maybe? Sort of like shortcuts to them?


    Lee B.
  10. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    Hi leeleses

    I'm going to guess you use msconfig to control your startups??? msconfig was intended as a tool for diagnostic purposes (and IMHO is best to only use it for diagnostics and not for every day startup control) . I think, at least in part, what you're seeing is a side-effect of trying to control your startups with msconfig. (Because msconfig "tweaks" the registry. And when you uninstall programs they don't go looking for msconfig's tweaks... so old registry entries get left behind) tho that's another good reason to use Revo Uninstaller as it looks for remaining pieces left behind due to msconfig

    Suggest you use Autoruns to control startups as well as cleaning up those stale entries.

    To easily cleanup those old entries, start Autoruns. Then click File->Find then enter not found to search for all the File Not Found entries. If it's a program startup, then rt click the startup entry to Delete

    Note: There's always one File Not Found entry that always appears and you can't delete (so just ignore it) you'll see
    HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Desktop\Components	
    0			File not found: About:Home		
    Also, just fyi.. if you were to rt click an entry then Jump to it'll take you directly to the registry entry to see it (but I think is easiest and safest to use rt click Delete in Autorns to remove it)
  11. leeleses

    leeleses TS Rookie

    Thank you. I will try that.

    I use MSCONFIG on some 'puters, but I don't use it on everything all the time.

  12. jckinnick

    jckinnick TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 148

    So i should probably do a clean install anyway? I bought the computer around 2004. How much does it usually cost to do a clean reinstall and back up everything usually?
  13. leeleses

    leeleses TS Rookie

    I work on a LOT of Dell towers of that era (2002-2008).

    Those Dell 2400's were not bad. The power supply in it was a little underpowered, but I never had a problem with one.

    My neighbor has a 2400. I pumped him up to 2GB and the Pentium (not Celeron) 4 at 3.06gHz. You get the copper heat sink to replace the aluminum one if you get the more powerful CPU. But the hardware upgrades are optional, not required.

    What do you mean how much does it cost? Do you mean if you take it somewhere? If that's what you mean, with new towers costing 400-600 these days, it's not really cost effective to pay someone $100-200 to do a clean install for you.

    If you do it, I would buy a Dell XP Pro restore CD off of EBay to do it with. Check out this link:


    Don't pay more than $20, shipping included. Make sure you get the blue XP PRO service pack 3 (SP3) disk. You will NOT need a COA or key sticker if you use the disk correctly.

    Then you will get your drivers off the Dell Support site:


    Do you have any of your original disks?

    How much pictures, music, documents, etc. do you need to save off your computer before you do this?

    Let me know what you want to do. I have tons of experience with the 2400's. I should be able to talk you through it step by step if you want to do it yourself.

    Lee B.
  14. leeleses

    leeleses TS Rookie

    Hopefully my longer answer will show up later, it said the moderator had to look at it first.

    It could cost $100-200 I would say, but I think you should consider doing it yourself. Not hard and will cost about $20 for Dell XP SP3 cd.

    Would be about 4-10 hours of work. You can do it a little at a time though.

  15. jckinnick

    jckinnick TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 148

    I did have to do a reinstall way back during the first year i had the computer and the guy at Dell walked me through it. I remember it lasting about 6 or 7 hours downloading.

    What about the question deleting old program files from C drive? Would that hurt anything? Do you think where i deleted those Aol files from my registry is what caused the problems?
  16. leeleses

    leeleses TS Rookie


    A guy just posted on EBay 10 copies of the XP SP3 disk for $12.99 each +free shipping. It's a great deal. The disk is much newer and better than the one that came with your machine. Makes the install much easier.

    If you already uninstalled the programs, then it should be okay to delete whatever is in the program folders. But, if whatever is there is not too big a file, I would suggest copying the folder first to a flash drive or external hard drive, and then deleting them. That way, if you end up missing an important file that was in them, you still have the folder that it's in.

    What issues do you have, other than slow performance? Slow performance can also be caused by needing more memory. It takes a lot more memory to run XP SP3 than it did to run XP no service packs, or XP SP1.

    AOL was one of the programs that used to ship on all Dells that was very difficult to remove and when removed often did cause problems. Heck, it also caused problems if you were trying to keep it on there and use it! LOL AOL will not be there if you do a clean install!

    Also, been there, done that. If you're thinking the extra programs are what is slowing the machine down, it's mostly not that.

    Also, I hope you're not running too many spyware and virus scan programs on the same machine. That will kill a machines performance and/or crash the machine too.

    I like AVG Free right now, and Super Anti Spyware is okay, The free version of Super Anti Spyware only runs when you tell it to run, which I like. I forget which Spyware program some of the moderators here like, it might be Spyware Search and Destroy?

  17. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    Hi jckinnick

    Some personal comments on various topics/questions from your different threads

    1. Windows freezing can be caused by many different (and sometimes difficult to find) things. Device drivers and registry corruption is possible.. but hardware failure / flaky hardware is also a good candidate. Given the history leading up to your problem, doing a full clean reinstall is a good way start to at least help rule out software/registry corruption. I'd only give it 50/50 that the reinstall will fix the freeze but is good to rule out a corrupt installation before trying to look for bad hardware

    2. Backups. A good freeware tool for backing up your drive before the reinstall is EASUS ToDo Backup. (tho, personally, i use Acronis True Image is well worth it's $50USD cost for data security). You'll need a USB drive with enough space to hold the backup image.

    3. Re: Finding and Reinstalling drivers
    In general, IMHO, when having problems and suspecting drivers one should look for system drivers in the following order:
    a. The system maker's website (e.g. Dell or HP)
    b. The motherboard provider's website
    c. The chip provider's website

    • Intel may make the chipset inside a Dell computer but a system integrator (in this case Dell) may customize how the chip is used and provide their own driver which works slightly different then the one you might find on Intel's site for their chipset
    • Also, the system drivers you find on Dell's site have been "system tested" by Dell to assure they all work correctly together in Dell's product. If Intel has a newer version it may not yet be "system tested" by Dell
    • So you first want to reinstall and use all the drivers provided on dell's site. On Dell's site, click Support, then Downloads, then enter your service tag or model number and Dell will give a list of all the available driver downloads
    Once you've tested with reinstalled Windows and latest drivers from Dell, if you still have problems then you can consider whether hunting for still newer drivers or searching for h/w issues is the next debugging step. btw...If you added your own 3rd product (e.g. you bought a web cam) go the the site of the provider and again look under their Support for downloading their drivers

    Reformat and reinstall
    If it might also help, here's a checklist to help smooth the reinstall process
    1. Make sure you have your Windows install CDs. Starting with an XP SP3 CD, if possible, will certainly save you time to get Windows reinstalled
    2. Review Add/Remove Programs. Make sure you have activiation codes for any purchased software.
      > You can recover your Windows product IDs from your current installation using Magic Jelly Bean tool
    3. Note programs you need to reinstall. Check if they're available for download online or you still have their download CDs
      ==> Note if you can download the latest program version from provider's site is better as you install the latest version and needn't have to update the product after installing from an old CD
    4. Backup all your personal files/folders
    5. Use DriverMax to backup all your drivers (so they are available if needed after the reinstall)
    6. And remember, after the XP reinstall you won't have a network driver right away! So download the Dell network driver to a flash drive BEFORE the reinstall so you can easily reinstall the net driver AFTER the reinstall
  18. jckinnick

    jckinnick TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 148

    When you say its ok to delete the old already uninstalled programs files do you mean from the registry or from my C drive?

    As far as performance and being slow, its faster now than its ever been, fast has really never been an issue. Its just getting hung up and freezing every once and a while at least once or twice a day.
  19. jckinnick

    jckinnick TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 148

    I found the Windows XP instillation cd that came with the computer. As far as an external hard drive goes so i can save all my stuff , I don't have anything big enough to hold everything all ive got is a couple of thumb drives. I don't really have a lot of stuff on my computer anyway. Most of it i could write down and reinstall later since all my registrations are saved to my email.

    When reinstalling, is the only thing i have to do is put in the cd and follow the instructions? What about drivers? I have another cd that came with the computer that says something about drivers. When i reinstall will it clean everything from my computer drivers and all so it will be clean reinstall?

    The Windows XP cd is the 2002 service pack 1 cd. When i install that do i just go and keep updating until its up to the latest service pack?
  20. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    As a side note... fyi.. you don't need to quote an entire post to reply
    > If you want to clearly reply to one specific user, just do something like @jckinnick
    > If you do want to quote a specic sentence or part of a post, you can copy/paste just the text you want to quote, then highlight it and click the quote icon that appears along with the Bold, Italic, underline and other text formatting icons
    > You can quote the whole post if you thing there's really a need to

    As to your questions
    > You should at least backup all your files/folders (but figure you already knew this but just to repeat)
    > Here's a guide that can help you through the install process
    > BEFORE you actually do the reinstall, I'd suggest you look at all the drivers for your computer on Dell's website. And download at least the chipset drivers and the network driver to a flash drive. As you should install those first after the reinstall and you'll need the network driver to get back to the dell website after the reformat / reinstall.

    I'd just then load the latest drivers from the Dell website rather then potentially old drivers on the old CD
  21. leeleses

    leeleses TS Rookie

    I meant it's probably okay to delete the old already uninstalled programs files from the programs folder, not from the registry.

    I also agree a clean install would be the best way to elliminate a software cause for the freezes.

    I see your disk is SP1. You would be a lot better off with the service pack 3 disk. When you go to do the clean install starting from DOS, there's files on the XP SP3 disk that can make the process a lot easier. And you won't have nearly as many updates to run afterward either. Of course, your disk is free. But the $13 you'll spend on the disk will be worth the work it saves. I suggest not using the driver's disk. I agree to download what you need on Dell's website. Certain driver's should ideally be installed first. One of the first ones I suggest is to update your BIOS and install the chipset/motherboard drivers first.
  22. jckinnick

    jckinnick TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 148

    When reinstalling XP is it just as easy as putting in the cd and following the instructions?

    I was thinking about it and around the same time this all started happening i did happen to uninstall all my windows components. I was having problems with the google updater program, every time i would try to update it would send me to msn explorer instead of my preferred browser. So i went into add/remove programs under windows components and uninstalled msn explorer and happened to uninstall all of them by accident. Do you think this could be causing the freeze ups?
  23. jckinnick

    jckinnick TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 148

    I noticed that when i click on one of the programs i have installed called Microsoft Fix It Center that it is a sure fire freeze up every time. That got me thinking that it had something to do with where i had uninstalled those windows components. I tried adding the Windows Components back using the XP reinstillation cd and it freezes every time about half way through. It did add half the things back but there are still is some it didn't add back. It would freeze every time it got to Management and Monitoring Tools Configuration.

    Im afraid if it wont even add Windows Components back its not going to do a reinstall of Xp without freezing up.
  24. jckinnick

    jckinnick TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 148

    Is there anyway to download some of these remaining components from Microsoft website?
  25. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    You might want to consider using your Dell Windows Recovery/Reinstall disk to run an install in "R for Repair" mode... (Not R for Recovery).
    If you can save all your data first, that is a wise move.

    It is not perfect, but works perfectly better than 95% of the time... replacing your existing Windows install with the one that came with the machine. You loose Service Pack 3 and your updates, but this methods usually has you back up and running where you can then download them and install Service Pack 3, then using Windows Update (or if you prefer, Microsoft Update) you can replace all the updates.

    Take a look online, as there are several good instructions sets by various advisory sites.

    It doesn't destroy any of your data, unless it is already too badly damaged, and does a better job than others for most folk.s
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