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How to clean your Windows registry and speed up your PC

By Steve Bass and Josh Norem | July 27, 2016
A cluttered registry can slow Windows to a crawl.

7. Step away from the PC. Once you give the software the go-ahead and it starts removing registry entries, walk away from your PC. Play with the dog, have some coffee, or watch TV. This is for safety purposes: If you’re fiddling with the PC—moving the mouse, deleting desktop shortcuts, whatever—you’re making changes to the registry while a registry cleaner is working. Not a good idea.

8. Backup to the rescue. If you discover a problem (for instance, maybe Excel no longer launches), don’t panic. And don’t do anything aside from using the registry cleaner’s restore feature, which ensures that only the changes the program just made are reversed. That will usually fix the problem. If not, the next step is to restore the registry with ERUNTor via System Restore (see tip number 2). As a last resort, restore your PC with a backup program—which you certainly have, right? Right!??

9. Maintenance. You needn’t perform a registry scan more than once a month or so, especially if you don’t often make changes to your PC. Scanning more frequently won’t hurt anything, but you’re unlikely to see a significant performance boost if the program isn’t removing a lot of unneeded entries. 

10. Come one, come all. Are you a techno-fanatic who needs the registry to be squeaky clean, with absolutely no stray entries and trimmed of all fat? There’s no harm in using multiple freebie registry cleaners—provided you use them one at a time. If you are using a hard drive, you might also want to select a registry cleaner that includes a defragger (such as jv16 PowerTools or Registry First Aid), or choose a free defragger such as Auslogics registry Defrag.

Registry cleaners: How they fared

If you’re like us and you constantly install and uninstall programs, move files around, and fiddle with I-don’t-know-if-this-will-work freeware, a registry scrubbing will likely help you, if only a little bit. It did for us, though the change wasn’t earth-shattering. Using a stopwatch with our desktop system, we saw 10 seconds shaved off its boot time. Microsoft Word and an image editor also loaded a little faster. Note that this test was done using a spinning platter hard drive, not a solid state drive. 

On the other hand, the laptop we tested didn’t show any improvement. That’s because that machine consistently runs the same five programs, with few new ones ever added. Scanning the registry on that lightly used machine showed fewer than 50 problems, and cleaning didn’t make any appreciable difference.

None of the cleaners managed to fix a gnarly problem with spoolsv.exe. (Spoolsv.exe occasionally holds up other programs from loading on our PC.)

Your mileage, undoubtedly, will vary, and you won’t know how effective a registry cleaner is until you give it a whirl. But if nothing else, these programs will at least give you the feeling that you’re taking care of your computer.


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