The "Speed up my PC" guys use registry cleaners to fool you into thinking your PC is faster...
Every now and then we all need to
clean up our registry, we install programs then uninstall them. To use
registry cleaners is the question ...
Not every program will remove all the entries that the install procedure put in the registry.
And then there is the occasional virus that also adds junk to the registry.
One way around all this is to do your Operating System install, get all your programs installed, setup your desktop and shortcuts the way you want them then
make an image of the Operating System partition.
But that would mean making a new image every time you added or removed a program, no?
What's a user to do?
Here is something a lot of geeks don't know or won't tell you: Your registry like the Paging File can become fragmented, that is installed programs adding and removing some registry entries will cause 'holes' in the registry file. You can't see them with a registry editor because it lays out the structure like a file manager or Explorer does.
But a registry that has had multiple programs installed and then uninstalled will start to fragment and then there is all those left over entries that don't have any function and are pointing to files that no longer exist.
Because all of the registry is read in to memory and resides there until you shut down the computer these 'holes' and 'left over entries' can cause the startup to take longer and occasionally cause the computer to crash.
If you don't want to do the image process every time you install or uninstall a program you could instead use a
registry cleaners type program.
I have used a few over my career and have found that Registry Fix! is
a cheap and fairly good registry cleaner. ( I have used it quite a lot in the
last year or so since this article was written and the program has not trashed
any registries yet...)
The 5 Steps to high quality and cheap
DIY Computer Repairs
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If you do use one be prepared for the program to tie up your computer for some time.
This one I used was on a Core 2 Quad 3.17 GHz (overclocked) and it took
almost an hour to clean the registry.
How does it work?
The program (most of them anyway) compares each hive with the other hives, then each key against any other key entry, such as the Run key in the Current_User with the Run key in the User's hive. When it comes across an entry that there is a mismatch it then reads both keys and searches the path of see if the file associated with the key still exists, if it does it will list the incorrect key in a list that you will have to ok before any modifications are done to the registry. (Unless you are running it in an unattended or automatic repair mode).
It also uses the uninstalled keys to check the keys that were supposed to be removed, if there is still a key or reference in the registry it will add them to the list or remove them.
Some more expensive and through cleaners will do a 'snap shot' of the registry before backing it up then it will start the process.
A good way to use the registry cleaners is when you are done with your customization of your computer run it to make the first backup and snap shot. Then after an uninstall of a program or a virus run the cleaner to get the registry back in to shape.
Some of these are the types of programs those 'On Line Computer Repair' companies/web sites use.
Those online/signup for service like "Speed Up My PC" or "Make My PC
Faster" are scams, you can get the same results by having a quality anti-virus,
Optimizing your Operating system, and making an image of the Operating System as
they charge for cleaning out your registry and run their anti-virus on your
computer. The ones I have fixed caused more problems than they solved! Save
yourself the time and money - most of the instructions are on this web site and
in this book:
Self Computer Repair Unleashed 2nd Edition Manual!
Be careful of these programs and if you decide to use one make an image of the OS or make a back up of all the registry before you run it, you never know how it will turn out ...
Update 02-23-20 - This article was written some time ago, the program I
suggest you use will run on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. However it will not
run on Windows 10, I am searching for a replacement because the original
publisher has not upgraded the program for Windows 10...