Are Registry Cleaners good or bad? Do they really work?

Most junk cleaners or optimizers for the Windows operating system include a Registry Cleaner which, inter alia, claim to improve Windows performance and make Windows run faster. But are Registry Cleaners good or bad? Do Registry Cleaners really work? The necessity and usefulness of registry cleaners, has always been a controversial topic. Do they really help?

Registry Cleaners Good or Bad

Registry Cleaners Good or Bad

In my opinion, if you are using a Registry Cleaner with a view to speeding up your system, it may not really help. If your registry had been corrupted or has a problem, it is unlikely that using a registry optimizer will make that problem go away.

But if you are trying to remove the residual registry junk; yes it has its own uses! One may use a Registry Cleaner only if one is into regular installing and uninstalling of software. HoweverI have seen no harm in using some safe registry cleaners once in a while. I do so too, maybe once a month. Among freeware I have had no problems with CCleaner.

But still one cannot always be too sure! CCleaner v 2.21.940 registry cleaner broke the Windows 7 context menu item. This was of course immediately fixed in the next version, by the good folks at CCleaner.

Incidentally, here is Microsoft’s take on Registry Cleaners:

Over time, the Windows Registry can begin to contain information that’s no longer valid. Maybe you uninstalled an application without using the Add or Remove Programs function in the Control Panel, or perhaps an object or file in the registry got moved. Eventuallythis orphaned or misplaced information accumulates and begins to clog your registry, potentially slowing down your PC and causing error messages and system crashes. You might also notice that your PC’s startup process is slower than it used to be. Cleaning your registry is the easiest way to help avoid these common problems.

We had earlier mentioned a link which has Mark Russinovich saying, “So it seems that Registry junk is a Windows fact of life and that Registry cleaners will continue to have a place in the sysadmin’s tool chest, at least until we’re all running .NET applications that store their per-user settings in XML files – and then of course we’ll need XML cleaners”.

So using a safe registry cleaner occasionally to clean out registry junk might be a good idea. But do not expect any real performance gains after using a Registry Cleaner. And in any case, in Windows 7 & Vista, parts of the Registry have been virtualized, and hence unlike in Windows XP, it does not tend to suffer from bloat, as such !

Incidentally, not many may be aware that Microsoft offered their own registry cleaners like RegClean, RegMaid – which were discontinued long time back, and also its Windows Live OneCare registry cleaner, which was discontinued more recently.

You may be interested in knowing that generally speaking, Microsoft does not support use of Registry Cleaners in Windows.

What is your take on Registry Cleaners? Do you use them?  If so which one’s do you recommend? Do you think they are of any use? I’d  love to hear your views on this one!

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.

23 Comments

  1. Grr

    Thanks for the post. I never use Registry Defragmenter.

  2. keivan

    I’ve tried lots of these reg cleaners. all of them cause some damage to the system.

    Instead I recommend using tools like total uninstall, Revo Uninstaller or new tool COMODO Programs Manager to monitor Installation of programs. These programs track registery changes associated to each program and help to clean registery when uninstalling a program.

    Also, I use Disk clone tools like ghost, true image, … to restore my computer to an ideal point in time. I test programs regularly. When I like a program after a test period I update my windows image.

  3. Adam

    I’ve tried the cleaners, I just don’t trust the whole en mass deletion of supposedly left over keys. What I’ve found is that Revo Uninstaller to be a much better approach as you’re looking at a smaller list of left over files and keys that will much more likely be associated to the just deleted program.

  4. TestGOTD75

    I use Registry Mechanic (10.0.0.126) for registry cleaning and defragmentation. I never have any problem of crashes or broken context menu. I would recommend this to those who understand these phenomena very well.

  5. Cris DeRaud

    Reg Organizer paid version from Chemtable does work well and is safe to use.
    http://www.chemtable.com/organizer.htm
    The program also has many manual tools for making registry changes.

    Once a week is about the limit for cleaning the registry. Too much cleaning can result in problems I have found with any program I have used.

    Advanced System Care Professional that continually cleans the files and registry is a good alternative to doing a radical sweep of junk files. It also has a decent defragmenter and optimizer included. Although, I let Diskeeper do the defragmenting for me.

  6. Patxi

    My experience:
    After cleaning the registry,
    1. Activation was lost my backup application.
    2. The list of recent projects open with VS2007 lost items, and from that moment, could not add new entries.
    3. Windows Mobile Device Center was canceled at the start.

    Finally I had to reinstall the OS.
    Should you have reviewed the entries to delete previously?
    Maybe. But when the relationship is more than 600 items, you can not check them one by one.
    Never again will use a registry cleaner.

  7. TheBigOldDog

    In the wrong hands, registry cleaners can create problems. For example, I had a friend who kept having problems with the HP printer software. Long story short, I discovered she was running a reg cleaner that was deleting keys needed by the HP software.

    Every once in a while I’ll run ccleaner but I select the keys to delete. I never blindly accept any program’s suggestion. When in doubt, I leave the key alone.

    I defrag the registry maybe once a quarter. Sometimes more often.

    Does all of it help? Let me put it this way, it’s like changing the oil in a car. proper maintenance usually just prevents bad things from happening down the road, it doesn’t usually result in a performance gain. For that you need to do something substantial.

  8. JCF

    Never had a problem with CCleaner, highly recommended.

  9. Without doubt … without doubt … Windows XP (of which I have a great liking for) has a dire need for consistent registry cleaning and, to the articles point above, especially registry defragging (I can’t comment for & or other systems).
    I have used, with great success, Registry Mechanic for, not only cleaning out non-relevant entries but, most importantly, for their excellent registry defragmenter as well.
    Without doubt, this maintains the speed / performance of my system. It is a must.
    A good point that the article above notes is the fact that, if one installs / un-installs software on an on-going basis, then it is especially necessary to clean and degrag consistently.
    I must add, as well, that a HUGE “must-do” is to also degrag the TOTAL SYSTEM / DRIVE, AND NOT ONLY THE REGISTRY–again, a must-do with windows, especially if you install / un-install a lot.
    I find that Piriform Defraggler (freeware) is excellent. Make sure you UN-tick, in the “Options>Defrag tab”, “Move large files to the end of the drive ..” DiscMD by PC Pitstop is also excellent (paid-for) app. I defrag my whole drive once per week, sometimes more if I do a lot of downloading / un-installing.
    Excellent tip: defrag, either the Registry or the total C-drive, while in “Safe Mode” every so often … makes a huge difference.
    Follow the above regimen and you will not have problems with your stystem, it’s that simple.
    Agree that CCleaner is excellent freeware, as well as Glary and PC Pitstop’s “Optimise”
    Rgds,
    Dorian

  10. kolba

    I have never used registry cleaners simply because I am scared to mess with the registry, if something goes awry, I have no clue how to set it right. But I can comment on the defrag bit. I have always been religious with the cleanups and defrags and felt it does impact performance positively. I use one of the popular third party automatic defraggers.

  11. Nisha Shah

    You can manage registry keys manually but if you aren’t very skilled with computers, there is a big risk that you could damage some data that is important to you. A registry cleaner will do it automatically for you – eliminating the junk, but leaving in everything important. I am using PC Optimizer Pro registry cleaning & it’s pretty gud.

  12. Base of my opinion Windows registry cleaner is good if the software used are compatible with the kind of windows they used.

  13. in my opinion using the latest Software 2009 for windows registry is the best tools, I’m not PC health expert but I had problem like this before so I appreciate to many pc health advisor

  14. Kerala Girls

    i really find registry cleaners very necessary to improve the system performance of a desktop PC ,~:

  15. King_Rat

    If you use your pc a lot… e.g. playing online games, d/l =>> audio, video, install & try lots of diff. programs etc., soical networking… blah blah blah…

    pretty standard stuff nowadays ^^ lots of cr@p builds up!!

    I use advanced system care 😉 I clean/defrag. registry 2 – 3 times a month ^^ and the build up of useless guff over this limited time frame is quite staggering!! Find a cleaning tool you feel comfortable using & use it…

    Can’t fathom people that never do it?! Guess it’s like the frog in a pot of water… if the temperature of the water is slowly and gradually increased, the frog will happily stay put until it is boiled alive!! or until the pc freezes & won’t go anymore!! 😆

  16. Jr123

    Thanks for supplying the name of a true free cleaner – ccleaner. So many supposed ‘free’ ones are nothing more than a free download. It you want the software to actually work, you have to buy it.
    CCleaner seems to have done the job!
    Thanks

  17. Neil_Parks

    I have tried several different registry cleaners. I have found that it is good to use more than one, because each will find something that the others miss.

    My current favorites:

    — CCleaner
    — Little Registry Cleaner
    — Jet Clean

  18. I don´t think “free registry cleaner and de-fragment “software is able to do a “perfect job”. Maximum they are quite able to clean the recycle bin or internet temporary files. However, we could do those jobs manually. !!!

  19. TonyS

    Use the PORTABLE program versions or make them portable http://portableapps.com/ and your registry CAN’T BE DAMAGED. Why doesn’t windows have this built in , it should !

  20. TonyS

    Prevent the Registy from being damages or made HUGE and slow by either running programs SANDBOXED, making them portable (http://portableapps.com/), or installing on a computer that you have for installs, copy just the files needed and manually add them, then the registry is left untouched. Most programs will still work this way (except for Office, some programs) but you may have to change the associations manually or by using the program to set them. Maybe using virtualization like Sandboxie, or other virtual tools. I miss the old days when ALL programs would let you do this, it’s much less common for commercial programs but FREEWARE programs will almost always let you do this ! If they can do it why can’t Microsoft and other companies, because they want to stop people from using pirate programs.

    Like Windows is really worth $200, it has LESS FEATURES than Windows XP ! Outlook is gone, Moviemaker GONE, the desktop is a pain and SLOWER on the same system even though I can access the full 16G or RAM now, it was faster with Windows XP 32bit !

    I still like Windows XP myself up had to upgrade with Windows 7 to use my 16GIG of RAM, now I can’t use my printer or scanner. They aren’t supported ! Canon LBP 860 isn’t supported like it is in Windows XP, I’m sure they could have EASILY converted their XP drivers. The closest printer (HP Laserjet 4) works some if you don’t use the fonts that existed back then. I’m sure there are other things but it should have the driver built in Windows 7 !

  21. “….installing on a computer that you have for installs, copy just the files needed and manually add them…” >>> This wont really work. 🙂

  22. Yes, registry cleaner are really very useful as they are used for removing junk and messy files from the system and enhancing the speed of computer.

  23. Graham

    As a software vendor whose products have been trashed by these registry ‘cleaners’, I would strongly recommend against them.
    Ask this simple question: out of the billions of software products out there, how can ANY registry ‘cleaner’ possibly make an educated recommendation of what can and can’t be deleted without having an up-to-date database of every software product out there, including its entire installation and registry footprint ?
    It is simply impossible for this type of product to be reliable. Popping up a list for the user to choose from is not good enough, especially for the less IT-savvy who assume that what they are presented with is ‘OK’ for deletion.
    In my opinion, any software which interferes with other software is a ‘rude citizen’ and should be outed for what it is – bad software that shouldn’t be used.

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