Registry Cleaners, Snake Oil or Helpful Tool?

A common question I get asked while I'm working on someones computer is if registry cleaners are useful tools for speeding up someone's PC. That's an easy question to answer, no. If that's all you care to know then you can stop reading here. If your thirst for knowledge is too much for you, then keep reading while I explain why registry cleaners don't work.


What is the Registry?

Every version of Windows has had a registry in it. The registry is a hive of files that contains every little program, Windows, hardware and user setting there is. Which stands to reason why registry cleaners exist. You can figure that if you have a computer where you install and remove a lot of programs or change settings, then there may be a lot of leftover registry settings no longer in use. Cue the regsitry cleaner.


Here is what Microsoft says about regsitry cleaners:


"Some products such as registry cleaning utilities suggest that the registry needs regular maintenance or cleaning. However, serious issues can occur when you modify the registry incorrectly using these types of utilities. These issues might require users to reinstall the operating system due to instability. Microsoft cannot guarantee that these problems can be solved without a reinstallation of the Operating System as the extent of the changes made by registry cleaning utilities varies from application to application. "


Microsoft themselves say that the registry is not designed or intended to be cleaned and is risky to do so. If possible harm to your computer isn't enough of a warning here is another statment by Microsoft on registry cleaners:


"Microsoft does not support the use of registry cleaners. Some programs available for free on the internet might contain spyware, adware, or viruses. If you decide to install a registry cleaning utility, be sure to research the product and only download and install programs from publishers that you trust. For more information, see when to trust a software publisher."


Not only can cleaning your registry potentially damage your computer, but its' common that viruses and other malware can sneak onto your computer disguised as a registry cleaner.


So to go full circle, there are plenty of tools that exist to keep your computer running smoothly. But the registry cleaner is not one of them. If you have further questions feel free to contact me or comment below.

About the Author Tim Dixon

Tim Dixon is the owner of Solve IT Security.

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