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Why NOT to use registry "Cleaners"

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Old 05-16-2010, 04:39 PM   #1
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Just to be clear: If you have a specific problem with removing a specific program, a registry cleaning utility might be able to identify keys that will help you solve that specific problem. But that’s a rare scenario. Most people I know use registry cleaners as part of their magic cleanup routine, and I see very little upside and a lot of potential downside in this sort of routine use. Specifically, as I write below, I have never seen any evidence that routine “cleaning” of the registry has any positive effect. I stand behind that statement.

Via Matt Goyer, John Hoole offers this cautionary tale:

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Just a note to say if you have Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 (probably all versions actually) steer clear of registry clean programs such as Reg Mechanic they go through your registry and delete unnecessary keys….. sounds good but it didn’t count on Media Center I ran it a few days back and when I came to use Media Center it loaded then produced a crash report and died, took me ages to figure it out until I came to run Reg Mechanic again and realized This program deletes DLL files too so….. I restored the first backup and rebooted and media center worked fine so if you have that error on startup that’s your problem right there. Just restore the backup from Reg Mechanic. So you have been warned.
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? Even in the best-case scenario the impact should be trivial at best. Maybe a second or two here and there, maybe a few kilobytes of freed-up RAM, and I’m being generous. How can you balance those against the risk that the utility will “clean” (in other words, delete) something you really need, causing a program or feature to fail?

If anyone has done any serious performance testing on this class of software, I’d be interested in seeing it. In the absence of really rigorous testing and fail-safe design, I say: Stay far away from this sort of utility.

If you have a counter-argument to make, leave a comment. But simply saying, “I use Reg-o-matic Deluxe and my computer is way faster than ever!” isn’t good enough. Show me the data!

I did a Google search for “registry cleaner” performance tests, and got more than 25,000 hits. In the first 15 pages, however, there wasn’t a single example of an actual performance test. Virtually all the results were from companies that make and sell this sort of utility, or from download sites that have affiliate agreements with these developers. I found one recent how-to article from Ed Tittel on TechWeb. Ed asserts that “Most Windows experts recommend a Registry clean-up on all systems at least once every six months.” He didn’t link to any of those experts, however.

Later in the same article, Ed advises: “I urge you to check comparative reviews, ratings, and rankings of Registry Clean-up Tools before you invest hard-earned dollars on these products.” Sadly, there are no links here either. I suspect that’s because detailed comparative reviews of this class of software don’t exist. Ironically, the article inadvertently documents the case against this sort of utility. Early on, it states: “The typical Windows system has literally hundreds of thousands of Registry entries.” The screen shot from the free utility he spotlights shows a grand total of 19 “errors,” most of which are simply pointers to CLSIDs that don’t exist. Is it really worth spending hours on this task? I don’t think so.

The best bit of reading I found in my search was This Rant from a poster named Jabarnut on a thread at DSL Reports’ Software Forum:

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The Registry is an enormous database and all this “Cleaning” really doesn’t amount to much…I’ve said this before, but I liken it to “sweeping out one parking space in a parking lot the size of Montana” … a registry “tweak” here and there is desirable or even necessary sometimes, but random “cleaning”, especially for the novice, is inviting disaster.

I also would like someone to show me any hard evidence that registry cleaning actually improves performance. (Unless there is a specific problem that has to be addressed by making changes to the registry).

Sorry to go on like this, but I feel there is way to much Registry “Cleaning” going on these days just for the sake of “cleaning”.
Amen.

The only programs that I would even consider because of friends/acquaintances personal views are 'CCleaner' and Microsoft's own 'MSCONFIG'.

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Old 05-16-2010, 05:54 PM   #2
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If you guys have any experience, and proof of a registry cleaner showing enough performance increase to make it worth my wild to download one, please post a reply.

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Old 05-16-2010, 06:18 PM   #3
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Here is how "we" feel:

http://www.techsupportforum.com/micr...-cleaners.html

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Old 05-16-2010, 06:31 PM   #4
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Well, pretty much agrees with mine right? Glad I'm not the only one ;D.
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Old 05-16-2010, 06:45 PM   #5
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Here is an interesting read, in case anyone has any doubts: http://www.sevenforums.com/crashes-d...-pls-help.html
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Old 05-16-2010, 07:02 PM   #6
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Registry cleaners are unnecessary and can actually damage the OS. You will find threads within Windows 7/ Vista where a registry cleaner was used, then BSODs followed.

2 TSF Microsoft Support threads on registry cleaners in general -

http://www.techsupportforum.com/f217...ml#post1722857

http://www.techsupportforum.com/f217...er-401950.html

Just curious - you mentioned CCleaner and MSCONFIG together. They perform very different functions.

MSCONFIG - Vista & Windows 7 --> http://support.microsoft.com/kb/950093

You should explore other functionality within Windows 7 better suited than MSCONFIG, specifically for System Services -
START | type services.msc

For Start-up app control, use SysInternals AutoRuns, free from Microsoft TechNet -

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/s.../bb963902.aspx

Regards. . .

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EDIT: Great thread, Jonathan... Thanks.

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Old 05-17-2010, 01:28 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clayd View Post
If you guys have any experience, and proof of a registry cleaner showing enough performance increase to make it worth my wild to download one, please post a reply.
most registry cleaners also deletes temporary files. Any performance increase seen is usually the result of getting rid of those files, not from fixing the registry.
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Old 05-17-2010, 03:51 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sobeit View Post
most registry cleaners also deletes temporary files. Any performance increase seen is usually the result of getting rid of those files, not from fixing the registry.
I know, I'm saying find me one that'll increase it enough to make it worth my wild to download.
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Old 05-17-2010, 08:29 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sobeit View Post
most registry cleaners also deletes temporary files. Any performance increase seen is usually the result of getting rid of those files, not from fixing the registry.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clayd View Post
I know, I'm saying find me one that'll increase it enough to make it worth my wild to download.
you completely missed the point. basically what I was saying is you will not find any that will give you any type of increase performance by fixing the registry. my question to you is why bother to ask if you already know???
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Old 05-17-2010, 12:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sobeit View Post
you completely missed the point. basically what I was saying is you will not find any that will give you any type of increase performance by fixing the registry. my question to you is why bother to ask if you already know???
The question was rhetorical, I wasn't expecting an answer to it.
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Old 05-18-2010, 02:21 AM   #11
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Well, it should be testable.

Take a well used machine, benchmark it through various office usage benchmarks, make an image of the harddrive.

Install a registry cleaner, clean and have it "optimize" and whatever it does. Benchmark again.

Restore image.

Compare results.

Voila, hard data.
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Old 05-18-2010, 04:49 AM   #12
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Here's my take on it. Registry cleaner for performance = senseless and not going to help. Registry cleaner for "fixing" so you can re-install apps that are currently uninstalled or for other needs when useless entries must be rid of = greatness.

jv16 Powertools is excellent. I've used it for many years on most aggressive settings and never had one hiccup.
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Old 05-18-2010, 08:32 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Chaos View Post
Well, it should be testable.

Take a well used machine, benchmark it through various office usage benchmarks, make an image of the harddrive.

Install a registry cleaner, clean and have it "optimize" and whatever it does. Benchmark again.

Restore image.

Compare results.

Voila, hard data.
Here is your hard data: http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2009/10...sofware_vista/

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