Free Registry Cleaners
I've heard conflicting stories on the effectiveness of registry cleaners. Do they really help? If so, which registry cleaner do you recommend?
Do Registry Cleaners Really Work?
Most computer professionals agree that occasional use of a registry cleaner will help your system run better. The Windows system registry is a database that Windows uses to keep track of system settings, and the relationships between hardware, software and the operating system. But the more you use your computer, the more you install and remove software over time, your registry will grow larger and more complex.
This can result in error messages during startup, and can even slow down the computer or make it less reliable. So the idea is that slimming down your registry, getting rid of erroneous and obsolete entries, will make Windows run faster and more reliably.
Specialized programs called registry cleaners will examine the registry, compare what's in there to what's really on your system, and either correct or delete erroneous entries.
Free Registry Cleaners - My Recommendations
There are LOTS of free registry cleaners floating around on the Internet. Some are good, some are lousy, and some are little more than thinly veiled spyware or viruses. Here's my list of free registry cleaners that are known to work well, and are free of any adware, spyware or other nasties.
- One free registry cleaner that I always recommend is the venerable CCleaner, which in addition to cleaning up the registry, will remove cookies, scrub your browser's temporary files cache and delete unneeded files. CCleaner is a better choice for non-expert users because it's less aggressive. It also offers an option to clean the registry automatically when you start up your computer. When installing CCleaner, there's a checkbox on one of the installation screens that's pre- selected to also install the Yahoo Toolbar. Be sure to uncheck that box unless you really want that toolbar.
- I've also heard that Wise Registry Cleaner does a good job. There's a free version, and a PRO version that claims to further improve your PC's performance by optimizing the registry.
- Other freebies that have been highly recommended to me include Glary Utilities, and Comodo Registry Cleaner.
- RegSeeker is a popular registry cleaner that's been around for quite a few years. RegSeeker is an aggressive cleaner, and actually cautions you against using it if you're not familiar with the Windows registry. I recommend that you use the automatic backup feature before deleting any registry entries, because in some cases RegSeeker may delete registry entries that are needed. Look for a RegSeeker "exclusion file" to reduce the likelihood that it will make any erroneous deletions.
- Uniblue RegistryBooster is not free (US$29), but I mention it here because from what I've heard, it's the best of breed. Some independent 3rd-party tests have shown that it reduces startup time as well as application launch time. This is the one I'd recommend for non-techie users who don't mind spending a few dollars.
All of these should work well with Windows XP, and some work with older versions of Windows. So what about Vista? As far as I know, the registry is not structurally different in Vista. So any registry cleaner that works for XP should also work on Vista. RegSeeker, CCleaner (and possibly others) explicitly say they do work with Vista.
A Few Caveats...
As I mentioned earlier, over-zealous registry cleaners can sometimes erroneously remove registry entries that are needed for some programs to run. I've even heard from one user who said that a registry cleaner rendered his system unable to boot up, requiring a re-install of Windows. So before using any registry cleaner, I highly recommend that you use System Restore to create a restore point. If something appears amiss after rebooting, you can undo the registry changes by reverting to the saved restore point. Even better, use the ERUNT (Emergency Recovery Utility NT) which will make a complete backup of your registry and restore it if needed.
I should also mention that not everyone agrees on the value of registry cleaners. Some techies claim that registry cleaners cannot possibly do anything to improve the performance or reliability of a Windows-based computer. Others say they might help a little, but point out they can cause damage as well. And of course some people rave about the benefits of using a registry cleaner.
As my science teacher used to say, the proof is in the pudding, or rather the eating thereof. So I tend to be in the latter camp. I've experienced significant performance gains after registry cleaning, and I hear from so many users who say that using a registry cleaner DOES make a noticeable, measurable difference in performance. But still, I do recommend caution when using a registry cleaner. Choose the tool that suits your level of technical expertise, and do your preparatory backups.
For some additional information on the Windows Registry, see Do I Need a Registry Cleaner? Post a comment below to tell me your opinion on registry cleaners...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 17 Dec 2008
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Free Registry Cleaners (Posted: 17 Dec 2008)
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Most recent comments on "Free Registry Cleaners"(See all 37 comments for this article.)
18 Feb 2009
Wow, you sound like you know what you're talking about. I'm not as computer smart as you are, which is why I'll be sticking with JV16 thank you very much. I don't HAVE to know everything about a computer to work with JV and yeah, maybe that makes me sound stupid but so what. I know the difference between a slow computer and a fast computer. JV makes that difference very clear.
BTW, you're very cute Bob. :-)
25 Jun 2009
I've heard tha registry cleaners don't help much, if at all. I totally disagree with this. I've used a few free and paid and I've settled on CCleaner as my clean-up tool. I've revived many computers which prior to runninc CCleaner were so slow the computer owners insister they had a virus. I don't know if there is a better one or not, but CCleaner definitely does the job.
26 Jun 2009
Bob's comment about EasyCleaner is a little outdated. The developer, is no longer actively updating his software. His programs are still available as far as I know, and I use them every day.
EasyCleaner cleans the registry very safely. In 10 years of use I have never had any problems with it. I can recommend EasyCleaner for cleaning the registry and the other things it does, with ONE EXCEPTION.
DO NOT USE THE DUPLICATE FILE TOOL, EVER.
It is too easy to inadvertantly remove a duplicate file that the computer requires in order to work properly. Neither you nor I know which duplicate files are safe to remove and which are not.
16 Sep 2009
yes true its not outdated but is good work bob
04 Jan 2010
I disagree that registry cleaners are safe. I used registry cleaners until a relatively new system experiences a fatal crash which required reinstallation of the OS.
The problem is that many of the issues arising from deleting important registry keys seem very much like malware infections. Program and system freezes, loss of functions and features, etc. Also, the problems can arise over a long period of time and seem like normal wear on a system when in fact it is not.
It is far better to stay away from these types of system tools.
registry cleaner reviews
14 May 2010
Nothing is outdated in computer if we talk about antivirus or registry cleaner. I have to say you have done good work.
03 Jul 2010
I was researching freeware registry cleaners and checking reviews . Uniblue Registry Booster sounded good so I checked some reviews and I immediately scrapped the idea of downloading it . Many called it a total scam and some had really bad problems .
I was surprised to see that Bob had it listed and I usually don't question any of his recommendations , but this one needs a thorough check of reviews , etc. before using in my opinion.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I've used Uniblue Registry Booster, and found it helpful on my own computer. One thing to consider -- this type of software is a very competitive market. Both positive and negative reviews are often planted by proponents of a particular product.
06 Jan 2011
I have found regcleaner quite safe. I found it a bit inconvienient when it deleted unused file extensions. I untick that. It has an added convienience in that it doesn't install but just runs.
12 Mar 2011
I am a download junkie and do need therapy for this. I have tried most all registry cleaners and have had to reinstall my operating system an incredible amount of times. Yes, you do need a registry cleaner and that is a 100% sure statement. The most trustworthy of all free ones are Advance System Care and Ccleaner. One catches what the other misses. Just like malware/spyware cleaners, you need a minimum of three of these. The best free, malwarebytes, superantispyware, and advance spyware remover. And Bob, please keep doing your best at helping people. This is exactly what we are all supposed to do. And it feels good too.
01 Apr 2011
I use CCleaner it works fast and usually speeds up the machine. I have recommended it to many of my friends who are novice computer users.
07 Apr 2011
Bob: I tried the link to jv16 PowerTools and I was directed to the 2011 edition download page. It's not free.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks, I removed that one from the list.
04 May 2011
What do you recommend for Windows 7?
17 Feb 2012
I tried the free version of UNIBLUE--you recomended (a while ago ) --- and to this day -- I can't get rid of it completely ! I have to click out of 2 different things , every time I start up ! Control Panel-- 'uninstall' will not get rid of it ! Beware of UNIBLUE !
free registry cleane
08 May 2012
My computer victimised to get real oppressive and retard but it gets very illuminate and prestissimo presently after I use registry cleaner.
02 Sep 2012
I read your article on Free Registry Cleaners. I found out about wisecare365 from a friend. Read a number of reviews and found that it does a better job then CCleaner.It automatically backs up your system when bringing it up and has many other fine features.
28 Sep 2012
Registry cleaners are not all bad software. If you want to clean your pc registry, then doing it manually can be difficult and maybe of high risk when you're not an experienced computer user. So you need to use a legit registry cleaner, personally, I'm using the Regcure: regcurelicensekeycode.com and it works for me. You just need to backup your registry first though in case of any conflicts or errors. If you keep your registry clean of conflicts and errors, then your system's performance will be good.
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02 Nov 2012
Hi there, I read your blogs on a regular basis. Your humoristic style is witty, keep it up!
EDITOR'S NOTE: Talk about witty, your middle name is hilarious! :-)
02 Dec 2012
I've been using Wise products - Registry Cleaner, Disk Cleaner, and Care365 - and would recommend any and all of them. I've also used Glary, and don't think it does nearly as good a job as Wise (Glary is better at removing Temp files, but that's the only advantage).
21 Jan 2013
Bob, have you ever heard of PrivaZer and if so, what's your opinion?
26 Mar 2014
hello bob my tools for a good and fast pc i use are, main security mse, malware i use malwarebytes free, superantispyware,iobit malware fighter which comes with advance system care,my registry cleaners i use ccleaner,advanced system care,plus i have a paid registry cleaner which comes with my avs programs. and i only got my main anivirus on realtime,.i use a hp quad core laptop no problems fast pc, what do you think on that,.