I found a link to an article, in my collection of bookmarks, that may be of interest, concerning registry cleaners and how some performed, and why some of them may not be very good.
And the results of a test performed with 10 different cleaning tools.
Yes, this article is a bit older, but if you pay careful attention to the first page and what he had to say about some cleaners inflating the number of errors they found on repeated runs, it will give you something to think about in terms of what makes a good cleaner.
Seriously, if a cleaner is good, it should find all errors on the first run, right? And if you reboot and run it again, it shouldn't a bunch more. If it does, it is either bad at finding real errors, bad at fixing them, deliberately creating errors for it to find next time (something unethical), reporting errors that don't exist just to make it seem like it is doing something (also unethical).http://www.informati...?articleID=171203805
Now...a bit from personal experience and 'crap cleaning' on pc's...
I have a 9x machine (WinME) that I installed Windows on over 5 years ago. It has not been formatted in that time. I have had to do one 'repair install' which involved reinstalling Windows over the existing copy without formatting first, which basically just refreshes & replaces system files. This was to fix a problem caused by a bad Windows update for IE 6 and the only way to fix it was to reinstall Windows to get back 5.5 and upgrade to 6 again.
I have never defragged the C drive. I have had some bad experiences in the past with WinME and defragging the OS drive and I'd rather not go through it again. (it was the cause of a few format/reinstall incidents on another WinME machine, where the OS wouldn't boot again after the defragging)
I have installed a lot of software, uninstalled plenty too.
The only cleaning that has been done on that system is the cleaning of the Windows temp folder, the automatic clearing of the IE cache when the browser is closed, the clearing of the AOL .art db when IE refuses to allow me to save images as anything other than .bmp, and clearing out System Restore (if you don't do it about once a year, it can take up about 2 gigs, which is half of the C drive on that pc), and manually deleting some stuff laying around that I know I didn't need.
And I only did this when I remembered to do it, which wasn't very often.
Despite the very conservative cleaning, and supposed 'neglect' of normal maintenance, it is a quite stable machine that rarely ever gives me any troubles. And it is no slower today than it was 5 years ago when I first installed Windows (as a matter of fact, I believe it is faster now.)
Now you would think that there would be tons of crap in the registry that needed cleaning after all that time of running (and it was a heavily used pc)
So I ran what was the best, safest free registry cleaner at the time...EasyCleaner (after making a full backup, just in case). It found 174 errors on the first run...nothing on a second run.
I thought this was pretty good considering how long I 'neglected' it. I let it fix all the errors it considered 'safe' to fix.
I ended up with a slower machine that took longer to boot up and was quite unstable, and some serious probs with a number of applications.
So I restored the registry from the backup I had made before cleaning and the machine was stable once again. (not trusting the backup made by the application that caused the damage)
I will never clean the 'crap' out of a machine again, other than what I had been doing in the first place.
On another note: that machine once ran Win98, set up by my dad, with MS RegClean running as an automated scheduled task about once a week. I truly believe it was a contributing factor to how unstable it used to be, before I wiped it and started fresh with WinME.
The only crap cleaning I do is not for increasing speed or stability of Windows. I do it to free up wasted hard drive space.
And except for defragging the OS drive, I maintain my XP machine the same way, as far as cleaning crap goes.
I was told if you dont do any cleaning (of houses) for 5 yrs things get no worse, a worthwhile research project i think, wonder if this holds for computers?
Do the dishes, wipe the tables & counters, keep the fridge clean, keep the bathroom sparkling, mop the floors, vacuum the rugs, do the laundry, dust every once in awhile, take out the trash, and put things away where they belong...that is all that is really needed.
It doesn't matter if you don't move the furniture and clean the dust bunnies from behind the couch or under the bed. They won't attack you or your house guests if you leave them alone. But if you bother them, you could tear holes in your carpet and vinyl flooring when moving things, or you and your guests could end up with a bad rash, coughing, sneezing, and wheezing if you are allergic and stir them up into the air you breathe.