Registry cleaners

By Macboatmaster · 21 replies
Nov 1, 2010
Post New Reply
  1. The registry on a Windows Operating System is, generally speaking managed very well, by the system, without any user interference.

    Only in cases of registry corruption, caused for example by a sudden power loss when Windows is writing to the registry, or by malicious downloads is manual action necessary.

    There are recognised procedures for dealing with registry corruption using "regedit" at the cmd. prompt or indeed rebuilding the registry in cases where Windows will not load, by using the Recovery Console.

    Within the "Home User Group" of computer owners it is probably fair to say that only a small percentage understand the registry or indeed know what it actually does.
    It is therefore surprising that a large number of these people choose to install Registry Cleaning/Optimize programs and the hundreds of other such downloads that frequently appear as advertisements.

    The vast majority of these programs are near to useless and many are dangerous to the health of the computer. Registry Boosters and "Make your computer boot faster" programs which advertise as "delete all unwanted items in your registry and defrag the registry" are, generally speaking amongst this category of unwanted software. Even if the
    program could distinguish between entries which can be safely removed and those on which other entries are dependant, the actual improvement in loading time of Windows could not be measured without a split second timer.

    If Windows is taking time to load then a disabling and changing to manual of any number of services using the cmd "services.msc" and a look at the StartUp items in "msconfig" is likely to be far more productive than any registry booster. (There are many other reasons why Windows could be slow loading)

    In summary - DO NOT INSTALL this type of program.
    If you wish to read the opinion of an expert - see this.
  2. EDO219

    EDO219 TS Rookie Posts: 212

    I like CCleaner. It simply saves me the time of manually shifting through the regedit hierarchies.
  3. Macboatmaster

    Macboatmaster TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 75

    The decision is yours.
    However I still maintain that ANY automated registry cleaner is to be avoided.
    For what purpose is it run.
    If it is to clean the registry of entries no longer required, this is unnecessary.
    If it is in an attempt to solve problems, there are far ebtter ways of going about this.

    This is a quote from a certified Malware Removal advisor.
    If I were you, I'd use ATF Cleaner. It doesn't target registry entries at all, and is quick and safe. I have yet to hear of any circumstances in which it harmed a user's computer. While CCleaner is not a bad program, any program that allows the user to scan the registry and delete entries has the potential to cause damage to the PC.
  4. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184


    As a general rule, i agree with you. IMO: The more aggressive the registry cleaner the more likely it will one day cause a problem!

    That said, i'd also agree with Pygmus :)

    The only registry cleaner I trust and would ever use is CCleaner. I've been using it for several years on my own machines as well as on friends/family's systems. I can state that i've never yet seen it corrupt a machine.

    My guess is I don't think it's nearly as aggressive a registry cleaner as other cleaners.
  5. Macboatmaster

    Macboatmaster TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 75

    I agree that CCleaner and one or two others are the better ones.
    However -would you use them if you did not have the knowledge to deal with the problems that MAY arise.
    How many people who do use them have ever heard of ERUNT , for example or would even think of taking that precaution..
    The point I was trying to make was that many people use them beacuse they see the words -booster, go faster, etc. You only have to look at some of these programs that produce 200 and 300 plus errors on a computer that is working perfectly - to seriously question their purpose.

    The over-riding reason for posting the thread was to try and save someone having additional problems, by running one of these programs. We have all seen the thread that starts - I have installed a registry cleaner/booster that was advertised and now I cannot etc.
  6. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    Yep. You're absolutely right. :)

    Certainly from the point of view of people looking for "faster" "speed optimizing/ booster" registry cleaners... they're really just looking for trouble! :D
  7. EDO219

    EDO219 TS Rookie Posts: 212

    ... then there's the PC speed boosters that are actually Trojans. lol
  8. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,448   +145

    I've got to reformat sometime soon anyway.
    I'm deleting tons with revo and CC cleaner and I haven't had any problems yet. I'm sort of in the middle of cleaning out my computer so it's a little lighter.
    That said, I have semi-regular backups from about a year ago.
  9. Macboatmaster

    Macboatmaster TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 75

    Revo and all aspects of CCleaner except the registry cleaner are a totally different proposition to what my original posting was about. ATF is also excellent for cleaning the temp files, cache and browising history etc. It uses hardly any resources and is extremely easy to use.
    You are very unlikely to have any problems with those products.
    I do not believe it appropriate to mention any by name that should NOT be used.
    Everyone who is considering using one, should read the warnings regarding there use, posted on many tech sites.
    There may well be one on this site, but I could not find it. That is why I posted.
  10. abe10tiger

    abe10tiger TechSpot Paladin Posts: 789   +16

    I've been using CCcleaner for years and nothing wrong seems to happen but I guess we should still be careful right? I've heard Registry cleaners could damage your pc. So let's still be careful... right? :D
  11. bobcat

    bobcat TechSpot Paladin Posts: 688   +67

    I am largely with the OP, but with some reservations. So here are my considered opinions on the matters raised, not only from personal experience, but also after having read relevant articles by top experts.

    1 Manual registry cleaning can be useful, but only if carried out by an expert who knows well both, the registry and the software involved. So, the normal user can forget about it.

    2 Automatic registry cleaners are virtually useless in bringing about any improvements, but can cause trouble. If you must use one, pick a conservative tool like CCleaner to minimize risks, but don’t expect to see any improvements.

    3 Stopping apps from starting unnecessarily is indeed effective at improving start-up time and performance. It is highly recommended.

    4 But stopping unnecessary system services from starting, though logically expected to bring about similar improvements, in practice this doesn’t seem to happen, at least not to any appreciably extent. Furthermore, because of interdependence between services, it’s not easy to determine which ones are really superfluous. There is therefore considerable risk of damaging the system. My advice is to leave them alone.

    5 System cleaners. It is good housekeeping practice to periodically clear the system of superfluous data. But this will mainly free up the disk space they occupy, performance of modern NTFS systems will only benefit marginally.

    There are, of course, innumerable stories, even by knowledgeable users, who testify to the performance benefits they gained from 2, 4 and 5 above. But did you know that taking an irrelevant, inactive medicine has a 30% chance of working because of the placebo effect? Only in this case the improvement is largely in the eyes of the beholder.
  12. Macboatmaster

    Macboatmaster TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 75

    Thank you for your agreement, I think the link I posted says all.
    I agree that changing the startup type of services needs careful handling but many services that XP configures as automatic are totally uneeded on many home computers. For instance, why would anyone want Remote Desktop Help Session Manager running automatically if they never use Remote Desktop.
    The safe and easy way is to take a screenshot of the services as they are. Save it and then use one of the many sites that advise on the required startup manner, by simply checking on the service.
    I could go on and post an article on services runnning automatically, manually or disabled, but that was not the purpose of the original post.

    I will leave the original post and unless someone posts a direct question I think I will consider the matter closed. This discussion could go on for ever. Here is one for YOU - does the XP graphical interface for defrag, defrag the MFT or does this require a boot-time defrag such as Diskeeper.
  13. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    Good / helpful discussion! Thx :)

    Just a couple side comments

    1. Saving a copy of your Windows service settings for future reference
    I agree. Having a copy is invaluable when one wants to look back

    Just as fyi...Checkout freeware tool Serviwin

    I find Serviwin verrry useful to both save (as well as manage) Windows service settings. IMO Serviwin has a much nicer/user friendly interface then the native Services MMC snap-in from Windows. Serviwin can also create and save text file output suitable to import into a spreadsheet.
    > This makes it quite easy to look back and sort your old data as needed (e.g. by column header)
    > Ability to import services into Excel also allows the option of setting Excel to compare and automatically highlight changes between settings in two different snapshots

    2. Creating Incremental Disk Image Backups
    People mucking with their registry and/or services should be also be creating disk image backups to cover-their-@@@ if disaster strikes in any case!
    (Also advise they invest in a product that can create incremental disk image backups. IMO: Running incremental backups makes the disk image backup process much simpler.​
  14. Benny26

    Benny26 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,535   +51

    I used the free software Reg Cleaner for ages and it didn't do me any harm. In fact it was quite an easy all singing and dancing program.

    Although, i just use CCleaner now.
  15. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,448   +145

    I mean't CC's reg cleaner, I don't really use the other functions.
    Just yesterday, I uninstaller Office 2010 beta, and what does it want to clean up? 30,000+ registry entries...I imagine i'd be pretty screwed if I deleted all of them. Usually, it works great though.
  16. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184


    Yikes! Yea, i'd be scared too of anything that said it would remove that many reg items!
  17. bobcat

    bobcat TechSpot Paladin Posts: 688   +67

    What the Expert Has to Say

    Note: As you may be aware, few people know Windows better than the world’s leading authority Mark Russinovich.
  18. Macboatmaster

    Macboatmaster TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 75

    From my original post
    The article by Russinovich and the one I attached the link to - should deter anyone from running them.
    I have posted another article with detailed guidance as to how to run Puppy Linux when you cannot load Windows - to recover your data, before tyring more desperate measures to fix Windows.

    Those who persist in running Registry Cleaners may well need it sooner than they would wish.
  19. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    I agree registry cleaners aren't advised (and, in particular, most certainly any that advertise they "optimize for speed")

    So was surprised to just stumble across this odd fact re: cleaners i'll share: I just happened to come across something both a bit surprising (and ironic?) Microsoft advertises its own registry cleaner as part of Windows Live One Care :confused:
  20. EDO219

    EDO219 TS Rookie Posts: 212

    I use registry cleaners for the same reason I dust the top of cabinets.

    The dust hardly impacts my daily life in any practical way, but its mere existence upsets my perfect little world. lol
  21. Macboatmaster

    Macboatmaster TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 75

    I agree and many people, far more qualified than me have asked the same question, including a number of MVP`s and MCSP`s and the like.
    I have yet to see a definitive explanation. I suspect that it is a little like the one in some of the VERY few more trusted - been around for years - examples.
    I do not see it ever reporting thousands or even hundreds of entries that need cleaning.
    I have just been working on a thread on another site and someone has installed one - it found 3000 errors. IT FIXED THEM.
    Great - the problem is he now has a Windows boot failure.
  22. bobcat

    bobcat TechSpot Paladin Posts: 688   +67

    Yes, but ...

    That’s a substantial find LookinAround, as it is the first time that I see official endorsement of a registry cleaner, but which is MS’s own. As it is official, one would expect this cleaner to at least not cause damage, yet…

    What they mean of course is “in case our cleaner removes valid registry items.” So, even MS who know their system best, aren’t sure about their tool’s safety. After all, even their updates and patches can cause trouble.

    Thus, the potential for damage seems to persist. As regards usefulness, though I admit I am now shaken, I would like to see an independent expert’s confirmation based on actual measurements, not claims. And I still haven’t seen such confirmation. On the contrary, serious computer mags who tried to measure any gains in speed found none.

Similar Topics

Add your comment to this article

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...