Registry Cleaners

September 3, 2007 at 3:49 pm | Posted in Computers, Software | 1 Comment

In “More maintenance“, I mentioned Registry Cleaners and referred to Fred Langa’s article explaining their value and purpose. He also made a couple of recommendations. I would like to expand on that a bit.

The first thing I’ll say is make a backup of your registry. It is the database of settings for your programs and operating system. If it gets messed up, you may have to reinstall programs or find your computer won’t boot properly. So backup, then edit.

The simplest way to back up the registry is to Run Regedit, select My Computer at the top (all), then choose File, Export. Give it name like RegBackup. A good registry cleaner will suggest or help you do backup. (System Restore points in XP and Vista are also backing up the Registry but not in as accessible a way) Another way is to run Accessories, System Tools, Backup and select ‘System State’. “The System State includes the registry, the COM+ Class Registration Database, and your boot files.” But Windows Backup requires Windows Backup to be running to restore.

Fred (and Gizmo) mention jv16 PowerTools as the best one he’s tried and as you’ll see by the site, it includes many other computer maintenance and tuning tools. It has automatic backup. Its free for 30 days, then $30 US.

jv16 also has an older free version thats nowhere near as comprehensive but does meet a high standard. But its database is getting out of date. (to XP only)

Fred also mentions the not quite as good but free EasyCleaner. Gizmo recommends it as the top free reg cleaner. But backup your registry first. It offers you the ability to save or print the error list but not backup.

RegSeeker is another popular free cleaner I’ve used that has a couple of tweaks that are nice and it does do a backup. Gizmo points out “It’s a nice product but its cleaning function is too aggressive and problem prone to allow general recommendation.” It found vastly more “errors” than EasyCleaner but one has to be careful of overzealous editing. So use its Reg cleaning option with great care – do you really want to individually check hundreds of entires first?

You will find that if you try several cleaners that different ones find different things. Like Anti-Spyware, it depends on their design and focus. I have tried ones that seemed to be good but messed up installed programs. So using a well recommended one is important. You don’t want to make anything worse and Reg Cleaners are hazardous that way.

In an ideal world, Reg Cleaners could do a great job, but not all programmers make clean, standard programs.  So not all registry errors are actually removable errors. They may have an incomplete reference that the program nonetheless requires.

Be sure to update databases, like the EasyCleaner Blacklist before you run a major prune.

And BTW – never use Utilities on your computer that are not designed for your Operating System. If you have recently migrated to Vista, you may have to replace or upgrade all of your utilities. For example, the current version of jv16 supports 32 bit Vista only.

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  1. Most recently, I’ve used the free CCleaner for a quick registry clean. It doesn’t go as deep but it catches the worst offenders. For a deeper look, I use EasyCleaner above. Or I simply use the Edit, Find tool in RegEdit if I’m looking for a specific offender, like some software that didn’t really uninstall.


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