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Registry cleaning - does it REALLY speed up a system?

by MarkGuy12 / July 22, 2005 7:29 AM PDT

Current system - Windows XP, SP1 (soon to install SP2), 512 Meg and using 19 gig out of a 145 gig hard drive. Norton Internet Security and Webroot SpySweeper enabled. I defrag the drive and use the above 2 utilities plus Spybot to keep the nasties down to a minimum.
Nevertheless, the system has slowed down, especially on bootup, shutdown and opening files.
Will registry cleaning noticeably speed things up?
I've tried a registry scan using Registry First Aid but I'm relectant to delete even the "safe to remove" keys - a couple mention Microsoft/Outlook. Yikes!
I've read that you should backup the registry first so you can restore if things go wrong, but I'm not sure exactly how to retrieve and copy the backup.
It seems like a very complicated process and potentially dangerous. I guess it comes down to I don't know which of these products I can trust.

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Slowing computer
by Stan Chambers / July 22, 2005 8:04 AM PDT

Have you cleaned out all the temp folder recently?
A fat temp file will contribute to slower operation.
C:\Windows\Temp, Temporary Internet files, etc.

Have you edited you Start Up list in msconfig?
I disable all except my firewall and AV.
Too many processes starting up at boot can drastically slow the boot process. Likewise at shutdown.

A good addition to your av/spyware suite would be
Adaware. It finds pests that the others don't.

Best of Luck

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Sorry, I stopped too soon
by Stan Chambers / July 22, 2005 8:11 AM PDT
In reply to: Slowing computer

A good registry cleaning is a good idea. I don't have many suggestions in this area, but I'm sure that others here will contribute.
I use a program called System Mechanic, which is a multi- purpose program. It has a registry cleaner built in.
I run it about once a month to clear the dead entries.
It will back up the the entries which you removed, so that you can restore them if there is a resulting problem.
Hope this is of some help.

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RE: Registry cleaning
by caktus / July 22, 2005 9:56 AM PDT
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Re: Registry Cleaner
by trublubush / July 22, 2005 11:15 AM PDT

My advice is... Don't do it!!
1) there is a new virus floating around the internet posing itself to be a "Registry cleaner." And that's exactly what it does... and by the time it finishes "cleaning" your registry, what's left of your operating system is good for one thing only, hosting a good-for-nothing, net-pinging trojan!
2) XP's registry should NEVER be "cleaned" with any kind of utility EXCEPT a trusted anti-virus/spyware removal program. Even then, these trusted programs do not "clean," but rather, remove infectious keys and entries according to strict definitions.
3) "Cleaning" your registry, in general, will not improve your computers performance UNLESS a particular hive contains specific keys or entries that are being used by malware program(s), in which case, the malware is what needs to be addressed in order to improve performance. I've had customers who've used so-called registry cleaners and at first noticed improvements with performance only to discover later on that some of their prized applications have quit working; not to mentioned acute terminations and various errors relating to "missing" files and "Unable to open......" messages.
4) Don't take my word for these things. Go to '' and find out for yourself what all is involved with editing the registration database. I'm sure you'll see the wisdom in not allowing some fly-by-night utility to mess up your computer.

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RE: Don't do it!!
by caktus / July 22, 2005 5:01 PM PDT
In reply to: Re: Registry Cleaner

Nearly evertime a program is installed or removed useless reg entries are left behind. This can cause the system to become sluggish. These useless entries can also adversely affect programs and functions on wich they were once dependant. Over time useless reg entries can also tie up memory. Like temp files (some of wich create useless reg entries), from time to time should be taken out with the trash.

The esiest and safest utility I have found (here at CNET) for this task is MS's Regclean. After you unzip the download, run regclean.exe, wait until it's finished, and click the Fix button. That's it. Seems perfect for those afraid of the Windows registry.

As for the bogus reg utilities out there, like any where, it's a buyer-be-ware market.

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Food for thought
by MarkGuy12 / July 22, 2005 9:58 PM PDT
In reply to: RE: Don't do it!!

Thanks all. I downloaded MS regclean - at least it came from Microsoft. What a business.

Any further comments are welcome.

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RegClean -further comments
by Papa Echo / July 22, 2005 10:59 PM PDT
In reply to: Food for thought

The current version is 4.1a, and that was from 1998 ! Stated to be for Windows 95, 98 and NT. So the program has not been revised for Me, 2000 and now XP. Is it still valid or effective for XP, considering that the Registry of XP is quite different from that of Winx ?

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RegClean - that could be a problem - question for caktus
by MarkGuy12 / July 22, 2005 11:42 PM PDT

I checked on the Microsoft site before running regclean and saw the same thing - XP is not listed as a support OS.
Caktus - which OS do you run Regclean with?
The search goes on <g>

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RE: that could be a problem
by caktus / July 23, 2005 9:46 AM PDT

PC World recomends it for 2000 and mentions that MS nolonger support it. MG offers Regclean and only mentions it is for the Windows registry but advises 2000 and XP user's that MS nolonger supports it.

I just read on Wininfo that ''Version 4.1a build 7364.1 of RegClean works on Windows 95, 98, NT 3.51, NT 4, and 2000. It's from 1997 and still works fine, but is NOT compatible with Windows ME or XP.'' However it's been working fine on my XP.

Java Glossary says Regclean is for Windows 95, 98 and NT.

In all sound like good cause for confusion.

PCTools seems to give a argument for using Registry Mechanic for all Windows OS's over Regcleaner. But I'm not sure how deep Registry Mechanic's free version cleans. Perhaps someone here in the forums could provide some enlightenment regarding Registry Mechanic's free version.

In fact, it would be great if one of the knowledgeable Moderators here at the forums could provide some enlightenment regardong the Windows registry and what kind of maintence is really necessary for machines that do alot of surfing, and installation, testing, and removal of software applications.

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Free "trial" version of PCTool's Registry Mechanic
by jordanpeck / July 29, 2005 2:30 AM PDT

PCTool website says that the free "trial"version of Registry Mechanic only cleans the first six sections of your registry.

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RE: further comments
by caktus / July 23, 2005 8:38 AM PDT

Also works with 2000 and XP.

Don't know about ME, but since ME is built on 98 it may. I've found that many programs designed to work with 98 also work with ME.

I nolonger use ME, but if anyone has used Regclean with ME perhaps they'll post and let us know.

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Not for Windows XP
by Shofarman / July 23, 2005 12:07 PM PDT
In reply to: RE: Don't do it!!

The program mentioned above is not for use with Windows XP. Be sure to look at the supporting Operating Systems before you run a Reg Clean on your machine.

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registry cleaner
by moveup / July 26, 2005 9:21 AM PDT
In reply to: Not for Windows XP

I use Advanced Registry Optimizer from Systweak. They also have Advanced System Optimizer. I bought them as a package a year ago. I think the price is less now. (One of very few programs I use that isn't free.) Have spybot and another anti-spyware, McAfee, more.

It automatically takes backup before cleaning anything, so it's always available to reverse. It's found a lot of unattached items, as well as soem other things. I'm not sharp on this, so don't remember "other things." They offer a free trial version like Reg Cleaner.

I downloaded and ran Reg Cleaner free trial last month. Each program found things the other didn't, but I assume that's programer preference for what's important. As I recall, Reg Cleaner (and a couple others) asked me to choose what to remove. I'm not smart enough for that. I assume Reg Optimizer "knows what it's doing." Yeah, big assumption. And wit5h backup.

Reg optimizer has frequently cleaned up things that had been left dangling on my OS, and improved speed. But I always run System Optimizer when I run Reg Optimizer.

Steve Chichester

I hope that helps.

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Random Facts
by msgale / July 28, 2005 11:28 PM PDT
In reply to: Re: Registry Cleaner

Microsoft RegCleaner 4.1a is not longer available. Why is that? Could it be that it doesn't work?Currently Microsoft has RegMaid version 1.1, a registry tool, on its download site;en-us;156078. Two points about it. One, it is supplied in source form, therefore you need Microsoft Visual Studio 6.0 or higher to build it. Two, it seem to have been built initially to demonstrate WIN32 APIs for accessing the registry. Lastly, you still have to decide what to remove; therefore it is a convenience tool not a knowledge tool.
Since registry searches are done using a hashing algorithm extra entries have almost no effect on search times contrary to other views. Performing a controlled test, similar SPECInt or WinMark for performance is the way to prove otherwise.

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Not by Design!
by kingdomofjones / July 23, 2005 12:16 PM PDT

Though all the discussion to this post seems to be centered around the Registry,I would not judging by your post suspect that the registry had anything to do with the source of where the problems were coming from,in fact I would first issue you a warning to stay away from the registry for now.The emphasis is on organization and efficiency,even neatness but not speed.It is this opinion that you should become more aware of the many many ways you can rid yourself of all the unnecessary files and bloated blotters that riding the surf can do for you.It is also suggested that you increase your anti-spyware by 2-AdawareSE with perhaps a additional expense perhaps something from the Anonymizer people or perhaps SpysubtractPro from Intermute.I would unequivocally increase both my working knowledge of my computer plus increase the deligence in which these tools can provide your environment with a safer and more efficent computing ability.Iam sure we are looking at settings conflicts,spyware,and bloated internet files.I can even go further however make the proposed adjustments and you will notice a better computing ability.

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MSCONFIG Selective Startup
by Jim Johnson / July 28, 2005 10:36 PM PDT

Before cleaning the registry, I suggest you do a couple other things...

Make sure (to the best of your ability) you are clear of spyware.

Use MSCONFIG to determine what is loading at startup. It seems many vendors want to pre-load part of their application at startup to avoid a lengthier app startup when you go to use it. (e.g., MS-Office, Adobe Assistant, nearly every scanner app...). Worse, most of these apps don't put themselves into the Startup folder where you can easily decide for yourself what REALLY needs to start and what doesn't). You can find advice on trimming the list of startup programs elsewhere so I won't elaborate here.

If you are in the habit of installing and uninstalling apps, I DO recommend an appropriate Registry cleaning tool to clear out the deadwood. Personally, I would NEVER let such a tool automatically decide what to do with the issues it finds. My brain is still a lot better at interpreting the findings and deciding an appropriate action.

Whether or not you go to the next step of optimizing the Registry depends a great deal on your system throughput. Frankly, on my laptop it makes a noticible difference; on my SATA drive equipped 3GHz desktop it might, but I can't visually determine this.

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Registry Cleaning
by johntilley2003 / July 28, 2005 10:42 PM PDT

A couple of weeks ago i downloaded CCLEANER from This programme gets rid of unwanted registry entries and also gets rid of other stuff including emtpying the recycle bin.Unlike many registry cleaners that list the errors then want you to register the programme and pay, ccleaner is completely free including updates as and when available.
Whether getting rid of the rubbish actually speeds up the computer is debatable, as there is so much that can slow your computer down. I take the attitude that at least the programme is tydying up the computer.

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Reg Cleaner
by skycatcher / July 29, 2005 12:07 AM PDT

I have to admit that I have tried several Reg Cleaners and think that you will be hard pushed to beat Norton Windoctor that comes with Norton Utilities or System Works. After that.. run the Norton Optimization Wizard that takes out all the empty spaces and makes the Reg run as fast as possible. Winpatrol ( - the free version - is much better than MSconfig for checking what's running and also helps you to get rid of 'IE Helpers' - you usually only need the Spybot S&D one. Get rid of the Acrobat one - that always slows the system down. Other things... 'Regularly' empty the Windows/Temp folders AND Tempory Internet Files - also reset the cache size for Internet Temp to about 40Megs or less. 'Regularly' update and run Ad-Aware AND Spybot S&D as they do slightly different jobs. And lastly... If you are running 2 'Separate' HDDs (NOT one partitioned one) put the Swap File AND the Temporary Internet Files onto the second drive - Your PC can then access several drives at the same time instead of interrupting one job to do another one (or two).

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More Registry Issues
by mv208 / July 29, 2005 1:26 AM PDT
In reply to: Reg Cleaner

this topic seemed to fit the issue i'm running into with my computer right now. Bear with me, may be a long post, but I'd appreciate any help.

I've been getting these Gray SYSTEM MESSAGE prompts about every 5 minutes warning me that there are serious errors with my registry. (I'm at work, so I don't have the error codes they're prompting), but they keep telling me to go to to fix my registry. I was a little suspicious, so I came to CNET and looked up registry clearners. One of the best recommended ones was PC Doc. So, gullible me, I downloaded it and spent 80 bucks for a year's service...and fixed all of my 372 errors. Well then, I reset my computer...and my DESKTOP disappeared. I could still access all of my programs...but my entire desktop was gone. I sent an email to their customer service and received a response from someone telling me that the messages did look suspicious...but then asked me to do a system scan...with a program called hijackthis.....and then copy and paste all the info and put it in a text file...and send it to him. Saying most of the information is irrelevant.

Obviously, this sent up all the red flags....and there was no way I was going to do this. So I did a system restore to before I downloaded PC Doc (i'm gonna have to try and get my money back somehow).

So, now...everything's working fine. Except I'm getting that System Message prompt again every 5 minutes.

Other thing to note....I have not downloaded Windows XP Service Pak 2....that hosed my system when I downloaded i system restored also to before that.

Anyone out there have a miracle cure? lol

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Re: More Registry Issues
by Tufenuf / July 29, 2005 2:37 AM PDT
In reply to: More Registry Issues

mv208, It's possible that those messages you're getting are coming from the Windows Messenger Service. Go to the link below and follow the instructions for Windows XP Home or Pro (whichever you have) to disable the Windows Messenger Service.


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by mv208 / July 29, 2005 2:46 AM PDT

Thanks a lot...i've been trying to do this for years! I'll try it out when i get home.

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To mv208 and a little to add to the main subject
by StoneRyno / July 29, 2005 3:00 AM PDT
In reply to: More Registry Issues

mv208 your description of the popups sounds like a spyware/adware/other nasty type thing. I will assume at this point you have little or no protection againts or have not patched/fixed one or more vulnerabilities.

1st let me say if the company will not give you your money back due to faulty software the BBB does wonders in that area.

Now as for the program hijackthis is a legitimate program for detecting hijacker stuff however it is best ran after cleaning the system of spyware/adware. Rather than hijacking this thread with the issue please contact me privately. You can send me an email through my profile here on cnet. I fix computers and am very knowlegeable in this area.

To add to the topic:

It is a good thing you were able to restore the system to its state prior to running that registry program. This is one thing to be careful of when using programs that clean the registry. Always be sure to investigate the program and even the things it plans to remove before removing to be on the safe side it is always best to make sure you can go back as if you didn't clean in the event something like this happens. Also if you do consider one that you pay for always see if there is a free trial or someting for testing the software. A good company will do this as they likely have confidence in their product and know that by doing so they will likely get more sales.

AS far as I know registry cleaning is the least of the system performance optimizing. If you keep the HD defragged, garbage file to a minimum, don't have too many startup apps especially unneed or unwanted ones and don't run on minimum system requirements you are off to a good start on running an optimized pc.

I am an advocate of opensource and free software. It can many times be just as good and sometimes superior to those that you buy. Let me reiterate always do your homework on a program before you use it purchase types and even free ones. You never know what can happen. I have tried some free spyware removers (I love to test everything under the sun as part of my computer fixing hobby that has brought in a decent supplimental income) that in themselves have installed spyware. Information is your friend the more of it the better.

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Registry Cleaner
by Denise Neve / July 30, 2005 1:09 AM PDT
In reply to: More Registry Issues

Hi there,

I have been using Registry Mechanic for over a year (not as a speed up performance gimmick) but to get rid of clutter that gets left behind when an Uninstall never does a really proper job! I used it before installing XP 2 and there were no problems then or after. It works just fine, and it is fairly dodo proof as it will create a System Restore point (With Windoes XP) before removing anything at all. You also get choices when you can decide if you want to keep a particular item. Just try it. You have a money back guarantee. There is also Ashampoo Platinum Suite with its One Touch clean up button that is safe to use by complete newbies. Good luck

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Registry Mechanic and HP
by woodwin / July 30, 2005 2:44 AM PDT
In reply to: Registry Cleaner

I ran RM for several years with no problems. I install All in One HP 7410 and then ran RM. RM repair blew out the HP. Easily fixed, but does require running HP setup CD.

I am looking for another scanner.


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Reg cleaners
by mileschap / July 29, 2005 4:45 AM PDT

This reply is without regard to cleaning Spyware. I have been using Norton Systemworks' Windows Doctor for years. And alway select that I will make the decision not allowing the Doc to make the decisions for me. (96% of the time the solution is obvious, the remainder you can take an educated guess or simply leave them in.)

What I have discovered is that after installing and then uninstalling a program, a recent example is Counterspy, that using Windows uninstall left numerous entries in the reg. Although I don't recall the exact figures, Norton WinDoc found about 15 entries, then searching the reg for both counterspy and sunbelt found about 20 additional entries.

It is my uneducated guess that the larger the reg, the slower the computer.

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by mileschap / July 29, 2005 4:48 AM PDT
In reply to: Reg cleaners

Forgot to ask, does anyone know of a study comparing the various software reg cleaners? And advocating or not advocating the importance of reg cleaning?

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Registry Cleaning..........Yes or No...
by Elinorann / July 29, 2005 4:46 AM PDT

I was very fearful of registry cleaning until the tech man at my office explained it to me.

I have 2 computers. On both I have REGISTRY MECHANIC & I find it indepensible. I have an 80gig hard drive and it takes about a half hour.

I am by no means advanced in computer knowledge, but I am very aware and not afraid to try new things if I am shown by someone who explains me it well.

I have even used my System Restore on My Windows XP after using Registry Mechanic and have had no problem.

What it does do is cleans up the unecessary files that are superfluous to your system. It does not remove files that are key components.

I also have an all in 1 which is called Fix-It-Utilities by VCom. Well let me tell you this Fix -It-Utilities is quite something. It takes about 1 and a quarter hours for it to find disk errors, registry fixes, and also has a registry cleaner and a hard drive defragger. It cleans up your system like a whip.

I find that if you combine Registry Mechanic and a Defragger like I use called Diskeeper by Executive Software- you will definitely speed up your system.

I am very fussy about keeping my systems clean, update everything constantly, virus scan daily with Bit Defender, use Ad-aware, Microsoft Anti-Spyware, Spybot, Aluria anti spyware. and Pest Patrol.

This Fix It Utilities has quite impressed me. I am thinking about buying Fix -It-Utilities 6 by VCom.
Of course this goes without saying that you have to follow up on the rest of your system,i.e. the Anti Virus and Anti Spyware etc. I update and clean up the system regularly and then I run the Fix It Utilities or the Registry Mechanic and Diskeeper.

If you maintain your system, you will have your computer working well for a long time.

Montreal Quebec

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I had trouble with Norton's Anti Virus on 2 Computers,
by Elinorann / July 29, 2005 4:52 AM PDT

Just to add, that I uninstalled Nortons and installed Bit Defender, which caught a Virus right away, which slowed down my system terribly. Nortons never caught the virus.

You must run Spybot plus 2 other Anti spyware systems, in order to try and catch the different items your system picks up from the internet.

I have friends that run 4-5 anti spyware systems.

Spyware can really slow you down.


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RE: Registry cleaning, etc.
by Kinda Geeky / July 29, 2005 6:17 AM PDT

To answer your question, I think the short answer is "no, it doesn't speed up your system".

I recently purchased a registry cleaner program. It found 200+ problems. I cleaned them and defragged the registry with the same program, and there was no noticeable improvement in PC startup or increase in speed in using the system.

I'm probably an average user: I install/uninstall programs, I have photos, MP3s, movies, office program suite, a couple of image editing suites, and am on the PC for anywhere from 2-8 hours a day, etc. I've not noticed any increased speed in any of the programs.

If you install/uninstall a lot of programs (like games or shareware, where you use it for a while and remove it) or make frequent modifications to your operating system, a registry cleaning program might make more of a difference.

As others have suggested (and if you don't do them regularly), I would recommend cleaning out temp folders, *.tmp files, *.bak files, the browser cache, and defragmenting the drive. Windows XP has two built in tools to do this: Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter (usually under Start | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools).

If you do purchase or try a registry cleaner, absolutely be sure that you do two things: (1) create a system restore point before running the cleaning program, and (2) let the registry cleaning program make a backup. That way, if you run into any problems, you can restore your system without too much pain.

Hope this helps.


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