Registry cleaner?

By steelth · 26 replies
Mar 11, 2012
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  1. I'm looking for a free Registry cleaner .I searched the Forum and downloads on here and found a ton ,But i wanted to know from someone what they use . I got a very old computer here that should be cleaned ,but i have never done it so not sure which is good. i tried some in the past but they only cleaned a couple things then wanted me to buy it. I also know that if i bought 1 it would better but with money being tight i can't. Thank you for the help...
  2. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,886

    Read the following about Registry Cleaners and hopefully it will put you off the idea. Then post back and tell us the problems you are having with the PC's performance and what version of Windows you are using.

    The registry contains all the operating system's knowledge of a computer's configuration, hardware devices, installed software and location of the device drivers.

    Under normal conditions, we do not recommend people use Registry Cleaners. Modifying registry keys incorrectly can cause Windows instability, or make Windows unbootable.

    No registry cleaner is completely safe and the potential is ever present to cause more problems than they claim to fix.

    Windows is a closed source system, developers of registry cleaners are not working on definitive information, but rather empirical knowledge. Automatic cleaners will usually have to do some guesswork.

    If you do have a problem that is rooted in the registry, it would be far better to edit only the specific key/s and/or value/s that are causing the problem. For this you need help from someone with good knowledge and an understanding of the Windows Registry rather than leaving it in the hands of automated software. But, first you need to be sure there is a registry problem and discover what may have caused it.
  3. steelth

    steelth TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 130

    well, it's very slow and i see nothing running in the background, always there has been tons of programs put on and take off over the years which i have always thought that they are still on the registry. maybe i'm wrong in that but i have never been told other wise . The Comp. is close to 5 yrs .old or so. but my parents luv it and money as i said is very tight.Oh and it is running with windows xp.
  4. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,886

    There may well be a host of orphan entries in the Registry but they are harmless. Some orphan entries from security software should be removed to avoid conflicts with other security software that is installed, but everything else will do no harm. There are several routines we can use to clean up the system that will be far safer than using a Registry Cleaner.

    First tell me of any Anti Virus that has been uninstalled when changing over to another product. Also please list any/all security software that is installed on the PC, Anti Virus, Anti Spyware, Firewall, etc.

    Run these following routines and lets see how it goes.

    Install and run this to get rid of all the junk: Temporary file cleaner
    Do not be tempted to use Registry Reviver.

    Then follow this and post the log.

    • Click on Start > Run and type cmd in the search box and hit Enter. At that C: prompt, type chkdsk /r exactly as written here with the gap before the slash, then hit Enter.
    • You will then see a message "Would you like to schedule this volume to be checked the next time the system restarts? (Y/N)"
    • Type Y for yes, and hit Enter. Then reboot the computer. The disc check will start when Windows begins loading again. Let all 5 phases run and don't use or turn off the computer. (The disc check process may take an hour or more to finish and may appear to freeze which is normal.)
    • When the disc check is done, it will finish loading Windows.
    • When finished click on Start > Run and type: eventvwr.msc /s exactly as written here with the gap before the slash , and hit Enter.
    • When Event Viewer opens, click on Application, then scroll down to Winlogon and double-click on it.
    • This is the log created after running the disc check. Copy and paste it into your next post.
  5. EthanGreg

    EthanGreg Banned

    Try CCleaner, Its free, and easy to use. I have been using it for the last 3 years, and never got better than it. Its my experience, may be there exists a better than it for someone, but not for me.
  6. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,886

    EthanGreg, If you need to be convinced that my warning for the use of Registry Cleaners is not justified then please read this. You should understand after reading this that advising anybody to use a Registry Cleaner is bad advice.

    I do not recommend the routine use of registry cleaners/optimizers for several reasons:

    Registry cleaners are extremely powerful applications that can damage the registry by using aggressive cleaning routines and cause your computer to become unbootable.

    The Windows registry is a central repository (database) for storing configuration data, user settings and machine-dependent settings, and options for the operating system. It contains information and settings for all hardware, software, users, and preferences. Whenever a user makes changes to settings, file associations, system policies, or installed software, the changes are reflected and stored in this repository. The registry is a crucial component because it is where Windows "remembers" all this information, how it works together, how Windows boots the system and what files it uses when it does. The registry is also a vulnerable subsystem, in that relatively small changes done incorrectly can render the system inoperable. For a more detailed explanation, read Understanding The Registry

    Not all registry cleaners are created equal. There are a number of them available but they do not all work entirely the same way. Each vendor uses different criteria as to what constitutes a "bad entry". One cleaner may find entries on your system that will not cause problems when removed, another may not find the same entries, and still another may want to remove entries required for a program to work. Further, some vendors who offer registry cleaners use deceptive advertisements and claims which are borderline scams. They may alert you to finding thousands of registry errors which can only be fixed and improve performance if you use their product.

    Not all registry cleaners create a backup of the registry before making changes. If the changes prevent the system from booting up, then there is no backup available to restore it in order to regain functionality. A backup of the registry is essential BEFORE making any changes to the registry.

    Improperly removing registry entries can hamper malware disinfection and make the removal process more difficult if your computer becomes infected. For example, removing malware related registry entries before the infection is properly identified can contribute to system instability and even make the malware undetectable to removal tools.

    The usefulness of cleaning the registry is highly overrated and can be dangerous. In most cases, using a cleaner to remove obsolete, invalid, and erroneous entries does not affect system performance but it can result in "unpredictable results".

    Unless you have a particular problem that requires a specific registry edit to correct it, I would suggest you leave the registry alone. Using registry cleaning tools unnecessarily or incorrectly could lead to disastrous effects on your operating system such as preventing it from ever starting again. For routine use, the benefits to your computer are negligible while the potential risks are great.

    Ed Bott's Weblog: Why I don’t use registry cleaners

    Do I need a Registry Cleaner?

    Registry Cleaners and System Tweaking Tools
  7. EthanGreg

    EthanGreg Banned

    Woww, nice information you have shared. I wasn't awared of it. Although, the RC which i use create backup after cleaning, and I am not sure about other functions you mentioned. So, I will visit their website and confirm all.
  8. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,585   +250

    There's quite a difference of opinion here about Registry Cleaners. I've been using them for years and now have mixed feelings.

    The two I use are CCleaner and Glarysoft Utilities. CCleaner is a useful application and so far it hasn't disrupted anything on my computers. Glarysoft is more thorough and that is the problem. I use some old programs which we find essential and unfortunately at times they have stopped working and been a real pain to get running again. In particular Microsoft Home Publishing 99. I 've now realised that Glarysoft can wreak havoc on old software. CCleaner leaves the older entries which seem to be required by the software like Home Publishing. I'm now running these programs in a virtual XP environment and only use CCleaner with them. Under Windows 7 where I'm running up to date software I use Glarysoft.

    One thing to beware of is aggressive registry cleaners which claim to remove ridiculous numbers of registry errors. Many of the errors are trivial and make no impact on the efficient running of a computer. There are always going to be some errors.

    Security software can have a big impact on how fast your computer works and I'm using Microsoft Security Essentials which is free. It outperforms a subscription based package which I've uninstalled. That's worth having a look at.
  9. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,886

    The bottom line is that Registry Cleaners are not required and can do more harm than good. You registry can be stuffed full of orphan entries and removing them will make no noticable difference to the systems performance. Security software can leave entries behind after an uninstall that will interfere with newly installed security software and there are tools made by the manufacturers to remove them, other than that the registry should not be touched unless some corruption has occured and that cannot be fixed with a Registry Cleaner.

    We cannot turn this thread into a debate so lets concentrate on helping the OP.

    Steelth, have you run the temporary file cleaner and the disk check?
  10. ravisunny2

    ravisunny2 TS Ambassador Posts: 1,986   +12

    Registry cleaning is a risky affair.

    Too often, we realize this after the damage has been done.

    Do note that Mark56 is a TechSpot Evangelist, with 2214 posts.
  11. Doctor John

    Doctor John TS Enthusiast Posts: 204   +15

    CCleaner is useful & safe, I have used it hundreds (if not thousands) of times, including on my own PCs, no problems, improved performance.
  12. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,886

    Using any Software to clean the registry is not safe and of no benefit. All it is likely to remove is orphan registry keys left behind by uninstalled software. Your registry can run perfectly well with hundreds of orphan entries and you would be very unlikely to notice any difference by removing them. If there is a problem with the registry you need the help of someone who knows what they are doing in order to repair it, it is not wise to leave it in the hands of third party software.

    Microsoft wrote the code that makes Windows do what it does and as that code is not available for anyone else to see, third party software has to play a guessing game when deciding what to remove from the registry. This can obviously lead to mistakes being made and registry keys being removed that are required for the system to run smoothly.

    If Microsoft made a registry cleaner then I would recommend it, but they don't.

    If you take the time to read the advice in my post No 6 which has links to further advice from highly experienced experts you should quickly understand why a registry cleaner should never be used.

    CCleaner does have some other useful facilities which are safe. To assume that its registry cleaner is safe just because you have used it for a long time without any issues does not mean that it is safe it simply means that you have been fortunate that it has not made any mistakes.

    I have often helped people on this and other forums that have fallen victim to a registry cleaner "causing" errors (and that includes CCleaner), in most cases a re-install of Windows has been required.

    The only people to benefit from Registry Cleaners is the vendors that sell them. CCleaner may well be free but it will make some income from its on site advertising for other products.
    ravisunny2 likes this.
  13. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,585   +250

    I'm now sure that you are right and that registry cleaners don't fix problems but may well cause them. I've seen that with Glarysoft Utilities. The trouble is that it's so addictive when you use them to tidy up that it's hard to stop. I still can't bring myself to uninstall CCleaner though GlarysSoft Utilities has had the bullet. Would you make the same negative assessment with regards to those ubiquitous Tune up utilities, Mark56?
  14. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,886

    There is nothing I know of that a "Tune up Utility" will do that you cannot do yourself.

    For problems that appear to be slowing your computer down read this guide: Slow Computer/Browser? Check Here First, It May Not Be Malware

    You will see CCleaner mentioned in this but only for cleaning out Temporary Files.

    Before I new any better I used Tuneup/Optimiser utilities and this usually resulted in a re-installation being required. If the PC's performance has taken a dive they are not the answer.

    The bottom line is, Tuneup/Optimiser software is completely unnecessary and there is always the potential to do more harm than good when using them.
  15. Doctor John

    Doctor John TS Enthusiast Posts: 204   +15

    My comments on the use of CCleaner are factual and based on considerable personal experience, so stating that "using any Software to clean the registry is not safe and of no benefit" is an overbearing and rather offensive comment, tantamount to calling me and other respondents liars - you have stated your opinion, I have stated mine, notice I did not find it necessary to rubbish your post, I am far too civilised for that.
  16. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,886

    I am sorry if you found my response offensive in any way, it was not written with that intention, and I was certainly not implying that anybody was lying.

    I was simply repeating the advice or highly experienced and qualified experts with whom I agree and have seen considerable evidence of to back up their opinion.
  17. Doctor John

    Doctor John TS Enthusiast Posts: 204   +15

    Ok, also sorry if I was too prickly :eek:
  18. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,886

    Apology accepted :).

    My intention is to always give the best advice that I can in order to help solve PC problems and also to help people avoid potential dangers.

    I am sure there are many people, like yourself, who have used Registry Cleaners without suffering any ill effects but as is clearly explained within the information I have given the potential to cause problems is forever present.

    Ask any of the experienced helpers on this forum, or any other, and you will receive exactly the same advice ;).
  19. fimbles

    fimbles TS Evangelist Posts: 1,185   +208

    Auslogics bootspeed has always worked fine for me personally and never caused me any problems.

    Its not free however, though im pretty sure theres a 30 day trial edition.

    Ps: Just leave the default boxes checked when you run it.
  20. learninmypc

    learninmypc TS Evangelist Posts: 7,670   +413

    Since registry cleaners are NOT necessary, I'd suggest this thread be closed to prevent further mis leading ideas. JMHO.
  21. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,585   +250

    "If Microsoft made a registry cleaner then I would recommend it, but they don't." Mark56.

    Perhaps Microsoft should think about developing something for this purpose. Sometimes they misjudge the market.
  22. Doctor John

    Doctor John TS Enthusiast Posts: 204   +15

    Re learninmypc's post above, I wonder is it TechSpot policy to close a thread if one respondent's opinion differs from another's? I seem to have missed the message saying that registry cleaners are necessary, but I have seen several arguing intelligently that they are a bad idea, likewise that they can be effective and helpful. Surely censorship of opinion isn't the answer?
  23. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    I see no immediate need to censor what is a sensible discussion full of facts and information in respect to both sides of the debate.

    I think the concern from members is the promotion of registry cleaners as a system maintenance procedure, when the case is very valid for avoiding there usage. I think as long as people are aware of the risks associated with using them they are able to make an educated decision as to whether it's worthwhile or not in their own individual cases.

    I will not be closing this thread, as it the information is within the guidelines, and is not promoting something inherently dangerous, or processes of an illegal nature.

    I would ask those reading this thread (now and in the future) to read the thread in its entirety before making a decision as to whether the use of a registry cleaner is a good idea for their particular problem at the time. It is a commonly agreed fact that registry cleaners should be used for a particular purpose, and not just for the sake of using them on a weekly basis like you would when performing malware scans.
  24. Doctor John

    Doctor John TS Enthusiast Posts: 204   +15

    Profoundly reassuring - thanks for that, Leeky :)
  25. learninmypc

    learninmypc TS Evangelist Posts: 7,670   +413

    Ok, thanks Leeky.

    In addition to what has already been said, I'm against them in general because I ended up using a pc as a door stop because I didn't listen to those that know.
    If you must use one, you MUST back up the registry. Better safe than sorry.
    From a friend of mine;

    "I'm sure I've gathered a lot of crap in my travels.

    Yup, probably. But those orphans and duplicates are all harmless and will not be negatively impacting on the performance of your system. Were registry cleaning *really* able to improve performance, the developers of these utilities would support their marketing claims with some form of empirical evidence (performance prior to cleaning -vs- performance post cleaning). But have you ever seen such benchmarking? No, and that's because registry cleaning does *not* improve perforance. Think about it ... programs such as SpywareBlaster dump 1000's of entries into the registry without causing any performance hit. Similarly, the fact that registries tend to hold significantly more information than in years gone by (bigger hard disks = more programs installed/data stored = more registry entries) has not resulted in systems slowing to a crawl.

    Using an automated cleaner to try to fix a problem is akin to using a shotgun to remove an appendix. The best way to deal with (possibly) registry-related issues is is to throughly research the problem and then use regedit to make any necessary changes and/or deletions (having first set a restore point or created a backup)."

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