Registry Cleaners 101:
Registry Cleaners are third party software that help is clean the Windows Registry of useless files and registry entries in order to create more free space and optimize a computer’s performance. Every time you install a program, a registry entry is made in the Windows Registry and certain Registry files are created.
Over time, as you continue to use the program, the number of these files and entries increases and takes up more space on the drive that is running your Operating System.
People use a Registry Cleaner to deal with such issues and keep their computer clean. It is unclear to many people what their benefits are but Vendors of Registry cleaners claim they are useful to repair registry errors that are otherwise difficult to fix with any other software.
What is the Windows Registry?
Before knowing what Registry Cleaners are, it’s best to know what The Windows Registry is. The Windows Registry has been a part of windows that not many computer users really understand. It is a hierarchical database that saves and maintains settings and information on almost everything on a Windows Computer.
Everything, be it application settings, user passwords, device driver information, windows settings and pretty much anything else are stored in the Windows Registry.
Normally, application settings used to get saved in the form of configuration files that used raw text based formats. There used to be a separate file for every application that was installed. The Windows Registry was introduced as a solution to this issue. It served as a single platform to store all this data without creating physical files, thus saving up on space and clutter.
Aside from that, storing all this data in the form of a consolidated database means that accessing values in the registry is a much quicker experience than editing a text file based configuration, which means the registry can be used for more than just storage of settings files. Access to the registry is also instantaneous as most or all of it is loaded as soon as a system is booted.
What is a Registry Cleaner?
If you’ve worked around computers for a fair bit, you’ve probably come across the terms “registry” and “registry cleaner”. Registry is that database in a Microsoft Operating System which comprises of all the settings, configuration and other operational data concerning various components such as software, hardware, user settings etc. being used on the computer.
A Registry Cleaner (which many people do not know what exactly it is despite having used it several times) is a third party software built especially for Microsoft Windows’ Operating Systems. The main task of a registry cleaner is to get rid of all the junk registry files from the registry to keep a computer running smoothly.
How do issues tend to occur with respect to the registry?
It can happen every time you make certain changes in your computer system. For instance, let’s say you’ve installed a new game or edited a user profile or changed the schedule when your computer is supposed to carry out a scheduled check up of various system components. It could lead to loss of some data.
Issues in Registry which require Registry Cleaner to solve them are of various types. Some of the examples are rogue or useless or obsolete registry files existing on your computer, registry files with malicious values or problematic values (which may render your applications or computer dysfunctional).
Types of Registry Issues Which Require a Registry Cleaner
These issues can come up in various ways. For instance, after months of using your computer, you will realize that you installed and uninstalled various programs and hardware. As explained above, such installation and uninstallation will leave behind many registry files and settings which your computer no longer needs to store. A massive build up of such files can make your computer take a dip regarding its performance.
These issues also come up when you sometimes alter with the registry files and cause a crash of sorts. A fine example of this is when some of you might have tried applying cheat codes to games by editing their registry files. So in trying to turn yourself into a god in call of duty, you might eventually end up crashing the game and rendering it non-playable altogether. Now imagine a similar situation taking place except the affected program is your computer or an essential part of it.
Thirdly, these issues come up when you might accidentally install a malicious software which might have malicious registry values or files packed with it and executed on your computer.
In all these scenarios, it is essential to have a registry cleaner. A registry cleaner after performing a scan will tell you precisely how many of the files need to be removed from your computer to maintain an effective working atmosphere on it. At present Microsoft, itself does not have a registry cleaner, and hence you have to resort to other high performing registry cleaners.
Do Registry Cleaners Really “Fix All Our Computer’s Problems?”
The internet is full of advertisements and media that promotes Registry Cleaning Products that claim to give your computer a complete overhaul by cleaning up your registry. In fact, in some of the older versions of Microsoft, there was this utility called RegClean which some users must be aware of, forming the perception even more that Registry Cleaning is helpful. However, the real question remains, do registry cleaners actually do everything they advertise they’re capable of?
Unfortunately, the answer to that question is – no, they do not. As a matter of fact, most of these products are not worth running. While the better ones won’t infect your PC with malware and bloatware, they still do not provide any major performance benefits and are quite useless. The Windows Registry contains hundreds of thousands of keys and deleting 50 or even 100 of them will not really improve your computer’s performance in any way. Ed Bott,
Windows Expert claims “I’d go a step further: Don’t run registry cleaner programs, period. I won’t go so far as to call them snake oil, but what possible performance benefits can you get from “cleaning up” unneeded registry entries and eliminating a few stray DLL files?”
So they’re completely Useless?
However, it should be worth noting that there are a small number of cases where cleaning a registry entry does help. For instance, if you’re trying to uninstall a program and it isn’t getting uninstalled properly, a registry cleaner can do that task for you. Just ensure that you’re using a reliable one.
However, this kind of a situation can easily be avoided if you just keep yourself aware of what you’re installing on your computer.
In some rare cases, there are also users who want to clear a program from the computer right down to its very registry entries. Sometimes, an uninstall doesn’t really deal with this and there are also users who simply delete the program’s installed folder without really using the uninstall tool, in which case the program isn’t really getting uninstalled. Just deleted.
This can cause more issues because your registry has information stored on an installed program which isn’t on the computer and restoring the files via a 3rd party doesn’t always work. In such a scenario, use a registry cleaner. They’ll clear all the program’s settings and log files.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Registry Cleaners.
➢ Quicker, more convenient process of cleaning the registry. The sheer size and number of registry entries in the Windows Registry means that manually deleting registry folders one by one is a rather inconvenient and in some cases, risky task. Registry Cleaners are useful in such cases but don’t expect a whole lot of performance gains.
➢ Correct, repair or resolve Invalid Registry Keys. While Registry Cleaners are not very good at this, they do fix a few errors in some registry keys.
➢ There are a lot of Registry Cleaners that can cause Registry Damage to the computer as they are incapable of distinguishing the severity of errors and many of them that are capable simply categorize an error as “critical” and wipe out the entry entirely. These programs are made for deleting and erasing and not for repair so the “repair” option in a registry cleaner isn’t really repairing anything.
On the contrary, it is just erasing it which can lead to a damaged registry. Good luck booting your computer then. Any damage to an important registry entry can lead to you having to format the computer and install the operating system afresh.
➢ Malware and Bloatware. Most of these registry cleaners come loaded with malware and bloatware. They’ll hijack your browser, expose your computer’s files to viruses and display advertisements that you wouldn’t otherwise be seeing. You might want to be wary of the fact that a lot of these registry cleaners are an extremely commercial exercise designed to get money out of your downloads and then there are even users who pay for full versions of such registry cleaners.
➢ Scareware. This is a term used for advertisements that claim to have scanned your PC and found threats. This is a false claim and some gullible users can fall for it. Most of these registry cleaners use such advertisements and this can be a dangerous thing to fall for if that registry cleaner is linked with lots of malware.
➢ No real performance benefits. Back during the Windows 9x Operating Systems, it could be said that a large resgistry could be slowing down a computer. However, as of Windows NT based Operating Systems (Including Windows XP and Vista), this is not the case.
➢ As computers got more modern, the impact of a loaded registry became more insignificant. As a matter of fact, nowadays, with most computers coming loaded with Quad Core Processors, at least 4 GB RAM and 1 TB Hard drives, the load on the windows registry is more or less irrelevant.
➢ Registry Cleaners, despite what they claim are incapable of dealing with undeletable registry keys. Sometimes, when a Registry Key becomes undeletable and you want to remove it, you think a Registry Cleaner can do it but in reality, it cannot. It is extremely difficult to get rid of an undeletable corrupt registry file and you’re going to need some skill and reliable programs to get rid of it.
Should You Get a Registry Cleaner?
At the end of the day, on paper Registry Cleaners can be considered third party software that modify, edit or clean Registry Entries at bulk without you requiring to individually open the Registry and clean/fix it one by one. However, in reality, Registry Cleaners are basically good only for basic skimming of a Windows Registry without really providing any major performance benefits.
Experts have repeatedly claimed that these registry cleaners are mostly not useful and on the contrary can expose your computer to the risks involved with Malware, Adware and Bloatware. Do not fall for their advertisements on Browsers and definitely do not fall for scareware tactics. You’re free to use one at your own risk and some good ones like CCleaner can even help you improve performance a slight bit but all of that can be done without a Registry Cleaner in general.
There are more ways of speeding up a computer than cleaning your registry and there are more reasons for a slow computer than just a clogged up registry, especially on a modern computer.