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Registry Cleaners And What They Do

There are few computer tech subjects as controversial as registry cleaners. Some techs swear by them and claim that they can clean up your system and help everything run smoother. Other techs claim that registry cleaners can remove registry keys from Windows that you might need in the future.

So what exactly does a registry cleaner do and do you need one? Put simply, a registry cleaner is a piece of software that scans the Windows registry for items that no longer serve a purpose. Sometimes the entries point to software that has been uninstalled on the computer or sometimes it includes entries that weren't updated when a new version of software is installed. The typical registry cleaner scans the system and then suggests Windows registry entries to be deleted - usually in the order of importance.

The tricky part is that any registry cleaner is going to suggest removing a lot of registry keys that aren't necessarily a problem. Keys left over from uninstalled software and programs deleted by your anti-virus programs generally aren't causing a problem for your system. And it's not uncommon for these "orphan" entries to also be useful to a program that is still in use on your computer.

The problem that registry cleaners are good at solving are those "path not found" error messages that you sometimes see when the computer starts-up. The error messages are annoying, but they generally don't indicate a problem that will cause system problems. It's a pain to see the error messages, but your computer will be fine if you don't fix the problem.

There is a longer list of problems that a registry cleaner won't fix. Ironically, a registry cleaner won't be much help if you receive a A Windows message warning that you have a registry problem. In that case, the best move is likely to do a partial or complete reinstall of the Windows system software. A registry cleaner also won't help if you're having a problem starting the computer or if you're receiving the dreaded "Blue Screen of Death." Those problems are likely software related and tweaking the registry entries won't solve the issue.

One claim often made by the makers of registry cleaners is that using them can help "speed up" your system. And on the face of it, that claim makes some sense. You're getting rid of extraneous entries and why wouldn't that make your system run more efficiently? They also claim that by removing old registry keys, they make the overall size of the Windows registry smaller and that would inherently make the system run faster.

The problem is that there's not the slightest bit of evidence that works. But most registry cleaners make the claim because a "slow" computer is a problem facing millions of computer users. And suggesting someone run a registry cleaner is an easier option than the ones that will actually work, such as updating Windows, running fewer programs or upgrading the system's memory.

This doesn't mean that registry cleaners aren't useful. But ironically, they do a good job solving problems that aren't registry related, such as deleting cache files, temporary files and download histories.

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