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Author Topic: Best Registry Cleaner?  (Read 17761 times)

moerl

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Best Registry Cleaner?
« on: March 28, 2006, 12:52:14 AM »
Since no DC-Review of Registry Cleaners exists and because this fact means there is no ultimate guide the best program in its category on the web ;), I must ask here. Many of you may not even use registry cleaners, and I use them sometimes, but after a while I just feel like there's too much crap in the registry that could also NOT be there if it were cleaned. The problem with registry cleaning is the incredible numbers of tools available for the job. There are system suites that clean the registry, stand-alone tools that do, and who knows what else. There are so many options for registry cleaners it's ridiculous. Does anybody know which one works reliably and actually is useful? Many of them may just clean the registry of superficial errors.. but I'm looking for a smart, comprehensive registry cleaner that will do a good job and be useful because of it.

Finding the right registry cleaner is next to impossible, given the sheer amount of tools available on the web for this very purpose. So I wonder.. does anybody here know of a comparative review of such tools, or an in-depth look at registry cleaners? If you have an article talking about why registry cleaners are evil and should not even be used in the first place, you can drop that here too. Of course I know they are dangerous and perhaps not even very necessary, but I'm a perfectionist, and if I use my computer for a while and never touch the registry, I just KNOW the registry is going to look like shit after a while. And knowing that really bothers me. It's like not showering for three days. Well, not that I do that.. but I imagine that's what it's comparable to. You sit there and you use your computer, but you know its registry is crammed with crap that needs not be in the registry. It's needless to say that's bothersome.

The Windows registry is one of the crappiest aspects of the OS IMHO. Is there no other way to manage all the settings? Why can't system settings be separated from installed software settings? Why does it all need to be mixed up? And why is the Registry so extremely prone to accumulating complete trash inside itself? It could also be designed in a fashion that is much more transparent and more readily understandable than it is currently.. I wonder if MS has made any progress in this regard with Vista. They've made tons of spectacular improvements to the foundation of Windows with XP, but what's with the registry?

Thanks

brotherS

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Re: Best Registry Cleaner?
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2006, 01:18:52 AM »

moerl

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Re: Best Registry Cleaner?
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2006, 01:47:18 AM »
http://www.donationc...dex.php?topic=1188.0 :)
Nice thread there! Thanks for the link. I take it from that thread that the shareware favorite is JV16 Powertools? A new version of that is coming up, by the way. JV16 Powertools 2006 is what it's called and it is supposed to be released soon. It will be interesting to see what's new there.
As for freeware, the favorites seem to be EasyCleaner and Regseeker.

Regseeker I've used before.. I've only always wondered just how good it can be being freeware. Now that I've looked at the product website of EasyCleaner, I must say I'm impressed. The blacklist is a very nice feature, something that should be common in all programs dealing with cleaning the registry. I believe JV16 Powertools also uses a kind of black-list and it even has a feature to automatically update that blacklist with an internal updater. That's very nice.

Guess I'll check out EasyCleaner and wait for the new JV16 Powertools 2006 :)

Carol Haynes

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Re: Best Registry Cleaner?
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2006, 03:03:28 AM »
I stand by my argument that I don't really like any of them. If you do use one be prepared to be very selective about what you let it do (that means choosing all changes manually in effect) - and get a solid registry backup before you start!

Most of the time you don't really acheive anything much by cleaning your registry anyway - you may clean out a couple of hundred useless entries - so what, you'd only save a few kb of disc space but functionally it won't make any difference. Remove a critical entry by mistake and you can have hours of heartache trying to find the issue.

Darwin

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Re: Best Registry Cleaner?
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2006, 09:32:50 AM »
I agree with Carol. I used to be really keen on registry cleaning and have current licenses for both Registry First Aid (www.rosecitysoftware.com/Reg1Aid/) and Registry Medic (www.iomatic.com/products/product.asp?ProductID=registrymedic). However, in use two issues arise: on the initial run, the cleaners invariably return a MIND NUMBING number of registry problems and, related to the first issue, using the default settings and simply selecting "clean" at the end of the process can OFTEN render either your system unstable or one or more applications unusable or both... The only way to avoid this is to check each problem to verify that it is indeed a problem. With RFA returning over 2500 and Registry Medic over 650 problems on my system (clean install of WinXP about a month ago, with all my software reinstalled BEFORE installing either registry cleaner) - who has time to check each key! From past experience, the only way around the amazing number of problems reported is to install the cleaner over a fresh Windows install and check the errors reported (there will probably be around 80 or so) and then run it after every software installation/uninstallation.

FWIW, Registry First Aid identifies the most problems and also searches for "fixes" to them which are turned on by default. This is pointless as many of those fixes are completely incorrect, so if you simply run RFA and hit the clean button, you're just adding more useless junk to your registry and possibly mucking it up to boot. Regisry Medic returns fewer problems, also suggests corrections, but leaves doesn't enable those suggestions by default, leaving it up to the user to check them, so if you run a sweep and then hit clean its default setting is to either delete or leave alone the problem keys found. This seems to be a bit safer in the long run but it can knock out applications nonetheless. The safest registry cleaner I've ever used is EasyCleaner by Toniarts (http://www.toniarts....8303a4105173aebaaf08). It's freeware. However, as noted below, I've never seen a noticeable difference in system performance/stability after having run any registry cleaner.

Ultimately, I restored an image of a "pre-registry scrubbed" C: drive, and don't have a registry cleaner installed. I don't miss them one bit! In over five years of using ANY reg cleaner - Registry Medic, Registry First Aid, RegSeeker, EasyCleaner, and jv16tools I can't really say, on reflection, that I ever noticed a positive change to my system. Ditto for the registry compacting apps that I have run - Registry Compactor, Registry Compressor (both at www.rosecitysoftware.com), and NTREGOPT
(http://www.larsheder...e.t-online.de/erunt/).

The app that I now run instead is Your Uninstaller 2006 (www.ursoftware.com). This sweeps the registry for keys that are known to be added by various installer programs after first having run the application's uninstaller. This then gives the user the option to delete the keys. In over a year of use I've yet to encounter any difficutly in removing all of YU 2006's suggestions. Many people swear by Total Uninstall or Ashampoo's Uninstaller, both of which take snapshots of your system before and after the installation of software. I own the Ashampoo suite but don't have it installed and passed on the opportunity to purchase the new version (Platinum 2) at a 60% discount. This is because I find this approach cumbersome and, if I am not very careful in ensuring that there is ABSOLUTELY no other app running when I install/uninstall new packages, the effects of uninstalling with Uninstaller are about the same as careless use of a registry cleaner. This is probably more a reflection on my impatience than on shortcomings with the app - I'm just too careless too often to make effective use of the power that this approach offers.

Just my two bits, for what they're worth. YMMV.
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin
« Last Edit: March 28, 2006, 09:42:00 AM by Darwin »

Carol Haynes

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Re: Best Registry Cleaner?
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2006, 10:36:17 AM »
The problem with uninstallers (like Ashampoo Uninstaller and Total Uninstall) is that they can't return other apps to the preinstall state (or post install state if you install programs after the app you are trying to remove). Lots of apps modify registry settings that affect more than its own function (eg. assigning actions for filetypes) which have uncontrollable knock-on effects.

Here is an example - three programs that affect the same registry values (eg. mulitple media players):

Install A
Install B
Install C

at this point point C is flavour of the month but if you use TU or AU to unistall B at this point you will lose all associations with app C as they will be reverted to app A settings.

For media players this is usually easily fixed but for some software this can have serious breaking potential.

The only way to use TU or AU effectively and reliably is to  systematicall uninstall all software that was installed after B in reverse order before uninstalling B and then reinstall all the software again.

moerl

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Re: Best Registry Cleaner?
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2006, 10:51:57 AM »
Absolutely EXCELLENT post, Darwin! Where's the thumbs-up feature on this forum? The both thumbs-up feature?
Haven't seen that valuable and information-packed and convincing a post in a while :). I used EasyCleaner yesterday and must say I like it a lot. Not even that much for its registry cleaning part, but for all the other handy tools it comes with. I also have a license for Registry First Aid, but have not installed or used it in over a year. I've tried just about every reg cleaner out there, save for the most obscure ones, and I also have to say that I've never actually seen any noticeable improvements to the system due to registry cleaning. It seems to me, however, that that's not even so much the point of registry cleaning... it's more the securing of a peace of mind for the user that his system's registry is clean and free of potentially problem-causing registry entries. The question is.. is the risk introduced by the use of registry cleaners higher, equal or lower to the effective benefit they yield? The benefit is probably not worth the risk taken, would you agree?

I've been a long-time user of Your Uninstaller! as well and was delighted to find it updated to the 2006 version. Updates are very rare and far in between, but they always contain great improvements to the application. 2006 also brought with it excellent additions to the program. I personally like the combination of Total Uninstall, (was updated yesterday to 3.60) and Your Uninstaller! 2006 Pro. The only problem with TU is with the very way it works.. you have to make sure nothing else is running during installation, for if anything but the setup of the application you are installing is running and is writing anything to disk or the registry, TU will catch that and if you ever decide to remove the monitored application, you will remove with it all those entries created by the programs that were running during the setup. For this reason, TU has extensive EXCLUDE features for scanning profiles, comparing profiles and uninstallation profiles.. but the question is always.. what to exclude? It's tricky, but it works very well. It's also very interesting to see, with TU, where applications leave their traces and what they change on a system.

This combo is also part of the reason why I sort of want to use a registry cleaner. I don't know how far I can trust Your Uninstaller! 2006 to do just the right changes with its cleaning routines.. and I'm pretty sure that more often than not, I make more unneeded changes to the registry than I should with TU. So after doing all that cleaning, I like to run a registry cleaner to make sure the registry is in order. I guess I can use EasyCleaner for that now :)

moerl

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Re: Best Registry Cleaner?
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2006, 10:54:11 AM »
The problem with uninstallers (like Ashampoo Uninstaller and Total Uninstall) is that they can't return other apps to the preinstall state (or post install state if you install programs after the app you are trying to remove). Lots of apps modify registry settings that affect more than its own function (eg. assigning actions for filetypes) which have uncontrollable knock-on effects.

Here is an example - three programs that affect the same registry values (eg. mulitple media players):

Install A
Install B
Install C

at this point point C is flavour of the month but if you use TU or AU to unistall B at this point you will lose all associations with app C as they will be reverted to app A settings.

For media players this is usually easily fixed but for some software this can have serious breaking potential.

The only way to use TU or AU effectively and reliably is to  systematicall uninstall all software that was installed after B in reverse order before uninstalling B and then reinstall all the software again.
I see your point, but have to defend Total Uninstall in this regard. It's not quite THAT stupid, I think at least. It will only delete registry keys explicitly CREATED with the setup you are monitoring. For values where associations and such settings are changed to values TU will only CHANGE them back to what they were before setup was run, it will not simply DELETE them. TU even RESTORES registry values that may have been removed by setup.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Best Registry Cleaner?
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2006, 03:00:11 PM »
??? That's the point if you uninstall B it will reset those associations back to app A. App C's settings can be affected.

Actually if you read the documentation in TU it explains this problem quite clearly.

moerl

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Re: Best Registry Cleaner?
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2006, 03:45:27 PM »
Ah I see what you mean. This is only a problem if the registry values are shared, but I guess that happens quite often, making it a problem indeed. Point taken.

Darwin

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Re: Best Registry Cleaner?
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2006, 04:47:52 PM »
Excellent post as well Moerl! You've said in a single sentence what I fumbled and fussed around trying to say about Ashampoo Uninstaller over three or four paragraphs: "...you have to make sure nothing else is running during installation, for if anything but the setup of the application you are installing is running and is writing anything to disk or the registry, TU will catch that and if you ever decide to remove the monitored application, you will remove with it all those entries created by the programs that were running during the setup." I haven't had it installed in so long that I don't remember if it has the exclude feature or not... but I got bitten by this many times over the course of using it!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Carol Haynes

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Re: Best Registry Cleaner?
« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2006, 05:05:06 PM »
Darwin that is true, but it runs a bit deeper than that. Assuiming that you do all the right things wrt Total Uninstaller what if the three programs all use the same DLL file? When the apps are installed each app will register the DLL file and a count kept so that when programs are uninstalled a track can be kept on which files are still needed. In the scenario above if you uninstall B it won't set the DLL count to 2 correctly it will be set to 1. If A or C are uninstalled later then the DLL file may well be deleted and the other program broken - and you are suddenly in DLL hell !!

Darwin

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Re: Best Registry Cleaner?
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2006, 06:08:09 PM »
Carol - are you responding to me, or to Moerl? At any rate, perhaps what you point out above is why I kept having problems with the Ashampoo Uninstall Suite... I suppose my usage of it was about the same as the average user's use of a registry cleaner - I just want to hit uninstall and forget about it, but really, one must pore over the log files identifying what stays and what goes.
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Carol Haynes

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Re: Best Registry Cleaner?
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2006, 06:09:47 PM »
Carol - are you responding to me, or to Moerl?

Darwin that is true, but ...

:greenclp: :eusa_dance: :greenclp: :eusa_dance: :greenclp: :eusa_dance: :greenclp: :eusa_dance:

I need a :drinksmiley:

Only safe sequence using Ashampoo Uninstall or Total Uninstall is  ....

Install Prog A
Install Prog B
Install Prog C
Install Prog D

I want to uninstall B, so

Uninstall D
Uninstall C
Uninstall B
Reinstall C
Reinstall D
« Last Edit: March 28, 2006, 06:14:09 PM by Carol Haynes »

kimmchii

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Re: Best Registry Cleaner?
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2006, 06:21:53 PM »
the normal uninstall gives me enough problems, i uninstalled a cd burning program and after reboot i got bsod wtf, i think it removes some dlls but leave the registry entries or something.
luckily i had acronis TI.
If you find a good solution and become attached to it, the solution may become your next problem.
~Robert Anthony

Darwin

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Re: Best Registry Cleaner?
« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2006, 06:33:49 PM »
OK, you got through the fog with that one Carol! Sorry to have been so dim, I clearly missed your point the first couple of times around (couldn't see the trees for the forest, or was it the forest for the trees?). BTW how close are you to Kirkbymoorside/Pickering?

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BTW how close are you to Kirkbymoorside/Pickering?
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"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin
« Last Edit: March 29, 2006, 02:59:57 AM by Carol Haynes »

tinyvillager

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Re: Best Registry Cleaner?
« Reply #16 on: March 28, 2006, 07:33:50 PM »
 
  Just to chime in,i too (i use total uninstall) have suffered what is explained in this alphabet scenerio.
I would uninstall The Bat! to do a clean install and for some reason Google earth and Nero would go
out the window with it.I really can't fault Total Uninstall,cause that's the nature of it's existence,but
it can be fustrating none the less.BTW there is a new version of Total Uninstall that was released yesterday
or so.

epopuI

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Re: Best Registry Cleaner?
« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2006, 10:39:26 AM »
Great post Darwin - very well written.

I use EasyCleaner and RegSupreme Pro (watered down Jv16) - each finds different entries to remove.  What I find interesting is that many of those entries re-appear each week - and I don't mean MRUs.  I still am not sure how they get added as the programs are no long on the HD unless they're hidden somewhere else. Some of the demo reg cleaner actually seem to inflate the number of errors by adding every conceivable line so one gets xthousand instead of x100s. The registry was an ill conceived plan by MS so that registration could be hidden within.  Plus a lot of other unnecessary garbage. Why some authors like to make upteen registry entries all over the hive instead of making one entry at top level and others below that one I don't understand either.  But then again after using a PC since DOS 2.2 nothing suprises me any more.

zridling

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Re: Best Registry Cleaner?
« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2006, 05:52:42 PM »
I have to agree with moerl, in that the most accurate registry app I've found has been EasyCleaner. It is also the least dangerous to use, it seems.

skywalka

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Re: Best Registry Cleaner?
« Reply #19 on: April 06, 2006, 08:38:25 AM »
Analysing the system before & after an install is the wrong way to go.  Total Uninstall would take 10 mins to analyse my system before & after a new installation.  A program that can analyse the actual installation file would be far more efficient.

superticker

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Re: Best Registry Cleaner?
« Reply #20 on: September 28, 2006, 11:37:51 AM »
FWIW, Registry First Aid (RFA) identifies the most problems and also searches for "fixes" to them which are turned on by default. This is pointless as many of those fixes are completely incorrect, so if you simply run RFA and hit the clean button, you're just adding more useless junk to your registry and possibly mucking it up to boot.
I agree 100% with that!  Even automatically fixing the green-safety-level flagged entries with their default suggested fixes would be undesirable.  RFA's suggestions are put in a pull-down menu, and what you need to do is look through that menu for the correct suggestion of 3-7 possible suggestions.  The first suggestion in the menu is not to be trusted.

What you can do automatically is apply the green-safety-level fixes which have no suggestions except to delete them.  But this is not clearly stated in the instructions.

With RFA returning over 2500 and Registry Medic over 650 problems on my system, who has time to check each key! ...the only way around the amazing number of problems reported is to install the cleaner over a fresh Windows install and check the errors reported (there will probably be around 80 or so) and then run it after every software installation/uninstallation.
Hmmm.  I think you're absolutely right!  This is the best strategy.

In medicine (especially pharmacology), we have a saying "Above all, do no harm."  This also applies for registry fixing.  If you just had RFA automatically fix those 2500 entries, you would be doing harm somewhere for sure.  I would have RFA sort the flagged list by safety-level color, then just fix those green-flagged entries which have no suggestions, and therefore can be deleted.  That should knock your list of 2500 to 1000.  The rest you'll have to look at.  For the remaining green ones, go through their pull-down menu of suggestions and select the right one.  Some should be deleted.  You can work on that over a couple days.

You shouldn't get more than 50 yellow or red ones.  I would leave the red ones alone.  Fix the yellow ones you're sure about, and leave the rest alone because they are probably correct already.  For example, RFA flags a path name with %USERNAME% in it for the Default User because it's not found.  Well--of course--it's not found because the username for the Default User is undefined.  So path names for the Default User should have symbolic references in them such as %USERNAME%.  Just leave that good entry alone and ignore RFA's stupid list of suggestions.  Gee, if you selected one of those stupid suggestions, you could create real problems because the Default User is used as a template for creating new user accounts (where %USERNAME% will then be appropriately defined).  Remember, "Above all, do no harm".

Regisry Medic returns fewer problems, also suggests corrections, but leaves doesn't enable those suggestions by default, leaving it up to the user to check them, so if you run a sweep and then hit clean its default setting is to either delete or leave alone the problem keys found.
I like that behavior better, especially for new users of a registry cleaner.  Maybe we should suggest that RFA work the same way.  RoseCity Software (for RFA) is good about listening to its users' suggestions.

I like RFA the best for power users.  It does find the most problems, but not all it flags at the yellow or red safety level is a problem to begin with (these entries may be correct), and suggestions at the green level need to be inspected and judged before they are applied.

If fixing the registry was a turn-key operation, then we wouldn't need a registry in the first place.   :P