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Slightly Skeptical View on Windows Registry Cleaning

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Note: Cleaning of the registry is a dangerous operation.  Backup is necessary for preserving sanity :-)

After installation/reinstallation of  several program as well as updates registry can contain useless "dangling' pointers, that are pointing to non-existent files.

In most cases this does not affect performance and the usefulness of cleaning the registry is somewhat overrated. But this is a very popular operation that many want to perform. the problem is that you may pay a heavy price if you use some tool with low IQ. 

Vendor tools are generally preferable for such operations. But there is no Microsoft tool for cleaning the registry in Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Please note that with Windows XP RegClean can causes problems with some Microsoft Programs. Microsoft no longer supports the RegClean Utility and has removed if from all Microsoft download sites. See Microsoft KnowledgeBase Article 299958

There are only a few free tools in this category; moreover you should be extremely vary of trying a free tool on your system without making full image first and verifying each change manually (for example a tool might mix the setting stored in the registry with the component that is located in the filesystem and try to remove the setting because the path specified dies not exist).

The same is true for commercial programs. Some commercial programs have a trial period during which you can test tem and see if they are good or not. For example Tune-Up Utilities 2006 have 30 days trial period and can clean registry although I can say nothing about quality (in test it did not crush my PC).   See PC Magazine Registry Cleaners article for the list of commercial tools tested in their lab.

Free Tools

[Jun 19, 2010] Can Anyone Recommend A Good Dll Cleaner

Scratcher I haven't used Karen's registry Pruner for a while , but when I did It never failed me, not saying it's can't fail though. Address below and scroll down to read newsletter of what it does in detail. You might have to download visual basic runtime v6.0 Two thirds down page.

[Mar 21, 2007] Ole registry Cleaner - Vers 1.5

The purpose of this program is to remove the Ole garbage left in the registry after installing and deinstalling several Ole (Com) dlls. This program can be especially useful to those who build dlls in Visual Basic. They know what I mean.

Registry Scan Engine Utility, Windows, Microsoft XP Registry Cleaner, RegCleaner Current Version: 2.6.5 OS: Windows 98/Me/2000/XP/XP x64/2003 License: Free for non-commercial use

The Registry is a heart and soul of any Windows system. It contains information that controls how your Windows appears and how it behaves. Most applications today use registry to store configuration and other important data. When you install an application,  a new registry entries will be created. These entries will automatically be deleted when you uninstall the application. Unfortunately, it does not always work that way.  Sometimes, you will find that some applications fail to remove their own registry entries. These entries will become obsolete.

After a long period, after installing and uninstalling a lot number of applications, your Windows registry will contain a large number of obsolete entries. These will significantly increase the registry size and thus will slowdown your computer, because Windows will need more time to load, search, and read data from registry.

To keep your computer in top performance, it is recommended to periodically clean your Windows registry.

ZDNet Anchordesk

I like Lexun Freeware RegScrubXP to clean the registry, and it contains many XP tweaks as well. It will run on XP/2000 only. Check out other good system apps on their website as well:

4 freeware solutions

Use more than one reg cleaner because each one will find what others miss.

3 good free ones are RegClean by Microsoft, Easy Cleaner by Toni Helenius (do NOT pay for a subscription to's not Toni's site), and CCleaner.

In addition get Spybot Search & Destroy, and activate its subsidiary module called "Tea Timer". That acts as a registry watchdog, alerting you any time any pgm tries to make any changes to your registry.

Posted by: Neil Parks    Posted on: 12/23/04

The RegClean Utility has been withdrawn by Microsoft

On computers with Windows XP. RegClean can causes problems with some Microsoft Programs. So Microsoft no longer supports the RegClean Utility and has removed if from all Microsoft download sites.

Microsoft KnowledgeBase Article 299958;en-us;299958

Commercial tools with trial period

TuneUp Utilities 2006 Optimize, repair and customize your Windows XP, 2000, Me and 98 Includes registry cleanup that did not break my system

Find out how easy and effective Windows tuning can be with the test winner! TuneUp Utilities 2006 lets you make your system faster, more comfortable and more secure in a matter of minutes.

The complete package combines all important functions for system optimization, configuration, cleanup and maintenance in a modern graphical user interface.

See for yourself how we can change your computing experience, download the free trial version today!

Registry Fixer from VCOM V Communications (the authors of famous disassember, The Sourcer). It won PC Magazine award.  Version 6 is now $19.99 (with $20 rebate) in CompUSA.

RegistryFixer, part of V Communications' Fix-It Utilities 5 ($49.95 direct) made more changes than any of the other products.

When the program finds multiple entries for moved files, it relies on the user to identify the correct one. While tedious, this is safer than just letting the program guess. Additional safety features include per-item undo, protection of specific Registry items, and a full report of all changes. A unique tree view clarifies the relationships among found problems, and the user interface is the slickest of the bunch. Though the suite consists of more than just a Registry cleaner, RegistryFixer is our Editors' Choice in this category.

Street price is around $30 at See also fx5_reviewers_guide

Registry Medic 2.29  Another Registry-focused utility, Registry Medic 2.29 ($19.95), finds problems that could be slowing down your system. It also lets you restore the Registry to a previous state. Running on our test system, the program found over 600 Registry errors, including things like references to nonexistent DLLs. The free version fixes only five errors at a time.

Random Findings

PC Magazine Registry Cleaners article contains the list of commercial tools some of which contain registry editor.   some of them, for example Reg Organizer, has free 30 days trial but it founds a lot of keys that in no way should be deleted from the system:

ChemTable Software's Reg Organizer 2.0 ($29.95 direct) can either perform a general check for Registry problems or specifically analyze and edit areas like shared DLLs or start-up programs. It includes an excellent Registry editor that—among other things—displays the effects of a REG file before merging it into the Registry.

The program offers Registry-wide search-and-replace capabilities, and its Age System identifies recently changed Registry items. Among its many other features are removal of unnecessary files, identification of bad shortcuts, and Registry-style editing of INI files. The help system, however, didn't quite match up with the actual program.

Note: The new version of Reg Organizer is 3.1 Download it here. See what's new in this version.



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