Re: Registry Maintenance

67RAM67 wrote:
I was wondering if there are any excellent FREE registry cleaners for Vista Ultimate that is recommended by microsoft? I found something from Ascentive that looks good but I am not fully sure (Even though it isn't free).

There is no such thing as a "good" (meaning useful or beneficial) registry cleaner, free or otherwise. Some are less harmful than others, but because they're all nothing but snake oil, I won't recommend any.

Why do you even think you'd ever need to clean your registry? What specific *problems* are you actually experiencing (not some program's bogus listing of imaginary problems) that you think can be fixed by using a registry "cleaner?"

If you do have a problem that is rooted in the registry, it would be far better to simply edit (after backing up, of course) only the specific key(s) and/or value(s) that are causing the problem. After all, why use a chainsaw when a scalpel will do the job? Additionally, the manually changing of one or two registry entries is far less likely to have the dire consequences of allowing an automated product to make multiple changes simultaneously. The only thing needed to safely clean your registry is knowledge and Regedit.exe.

The registry contains all of the operating system's "knowledge" of the computer's hardware devices, installed software, the location of the device drivers, and the computer's configuration. A misstep in the registry can have severe consequences. One should not even turning loose a poorly understood automated "cleaner," unless he is fully confident that he knows *exactly* what is going to happen as a result of each and every change.

Having repeatedly seen the results of inexperienced people using automated registry "cleaners," I can only advise all but the most experienced computer technicians (and/or hobbyists) to avoid them all. Experience has shown me that such tools simply are not safe in the hands of the inexperienced user. If you lack the knowledge and experience to maintain your registry by yourself, then you also lack the knowledge and experience to safely configure and use any automated registry cleaner, no matter how safe they claim to be.

More importantly, no one has ever demonstrated that the use of an automated registry "cleaner," particularly by an untrained, inexperienced computer user, does any real good, whatsoever. There's certainly been no empirical evidence offered to demonstrate that the use of such products to "clean" WinXP's registry improves a computer's performance or stability. Given the potential for harm, it's just not worth the risk.

Granted, most registry "cleaners" won't cause problems each and every time they're used, but the potential for harm is always there. And, since no registry "cleaner" has ever been demonstrated to do any good (think of them like treating the flu with chicken soup - there's no real medicinal value, but it sometimes provides a warming placebo effect), I always tell people that the risks far out-weigh the non-existent benefits.

I will concede that a good registry *scanning* tool, in the hands of an experienced and knowledgeable technician or hobbyist can be a useful time-saving diagnostic tool, as long as it's not allowed to make any changes automatically. But I really don't think that there are any registry "cleaners" that are truly safe for the general public to use. Experience has proven just the opposite: such tools simply are not safe in the hands of the inexperienced user.

A little further reading on the subject:

Why I don't use registry cleaners

AumHa Forums • View topic - AUMHA Discussion: Should I Use a Registry Cleaner?


Bruce Chambers

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