Registry Cleaners – are they worth using?

registry cleanerI’ve been using Windows in all it’s flavours since the days of Windows 2.0. Not a wonderful piece of software I think everyone around in those days will agree, but it started the whole ‘gui’ thing off – at least for PC users!

The Windows registry first made it’s appearance with Windows 3.1 and it was intended to tidy up the profusion of .ini files that had previously been used to store configuration settings for programs running under Windows.

Registry cleaners are software utilities whose usual purpose is to remove redundant or unwanted items from the Windows registry. These redundant items are often left behind after uninstalling software, either by using their own (and sometimes faulty) uninstalltion programs or by simply deleting program directories – which is definitely NOT recommended!

The necessity and usefulness of registry cleaners is a controversial topic, with experts not agreeing on their benefit. The problem is further clouded by the fact that malware and ‘scareware’ is often associated with utilities of this type. Scareware is the kind of thing that you see in online advertising (I never seem to see it as my ‘BS filter’ is always turned on!) and in bogus antivirus and antispyware junk that web surfers often accidentally end up with on their computers. A quick Google of ‘registry cleaner’ will find thousands upon thousands of companies pushing their products and also ‘reviews’ – usually written by avid supporters (or the companies themselves) who extol the virtues of the products. The Google Ads below are a testament to this!

Do I use them? I have, once or twice to clean out software ‘remnants’ from customer’s systems who weren’t prepared (or able) to have their computer’s operating system reinstalled.

Did they work? One time it did, the other time it didn’t – but the key thing to remember is this. I would strongly recommend that unless you know exactly what you are doing when a registry cleaner advises you to delete registry entries – that you leave them alone!

I can’t see myself ever using one on my own system even though I install and uninstall a lot of software – but I am careful how I do this. ALWAYS use the uninstall tool provided with most modern programs or use the Add/Remove control panel applet. Never, never just delete program folders – that’s a recipe for disaster, believe me!

The potential to render your system inoperable is very real when you delve into the Windows registry and poorly written cleaner software is likely to cause more harm than good.

If your computer is running really slowly AND you have made a backup of everything you need from it AND you are prepared and able to reinstall Windows, I’d say to give one a try. But, make sure that you carefully read every unbiased review of the one you choose first.

I haven’t looked into the multitude of ones out there – I simply don’t have the time to do so and I doubt that I’ll be likely to need to use one in the foreseeable future, especially now that there is a new Windows version coming out in a couple of months!

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