If you've been running Windows for any length of time, you've probably experienced your share of registry errors. Sometimes you can ignore them. Sometimes they miraculously fix themselves. But ultimately you will want to get rid of the constant barrage of error messages and search the Web for registry fixes.
The Registry Is Windows’ Brain
The registry is Windows’ place to put things it would otherwise forget: system & program settings, driver information, database connections, component information, hardware configurations, etc. The registry database is the central system database that Windows cannot run without. The nasty thing about this database is that it tends to get messed up over time. This might sound strange - how can a database get messed up? When you understand how the registry works, you'll see where the problems arise.
How The Registry Gets Messed Up
The registry database is accessed constantly by Windows itself and by applications and processes running on your machine. These applications and processes read and write data to and from the registry. Data is inserted, edited and deleted by many processes, often at the same time. Windows handles access to the registry and has to take care of all these concurrent access operations and, for lack of a better word, sometimes it simply messes things up. Data doesn't get deleted properly, records are duplicated or wrong data is written to registry entries. The results of these “misthaps" can be as harmless as some program's setting not being read correctly all the way to complete system failure.
Another source of registry problems is installing and removing software. Some uninstallation routines don't work the way they should and leave traces of the program they're removing on the system. Among other things, application-specific registry keys that are supposed to be deleted stay in the registry forever and lead to bloating of the registry database over time. Also, references to old components (like drivers) are not removed and might lead to incompatibilities with future versions of Windows.
Regular Registry Repair Protects You From The Worst Case
As a general rule, the longer the Windows registry goes unrepaired, the more complicated it gets to fix things. If you wait too long that next registry error might just be the one that cripples your system to the point of completely refusing to work. Just hope you have a working backup in place if that happens.
But why risk the worst case when regular maintenance of the registry's integrity can spare you a lot of trouble?
The easiest way to prevent registry problems is resolve to regularly scan and repair your registry and keep it healthy and in good shape. Here's how you do that.
Scan & Fix - The Dynamic Duo
Being a good citizen, you've now committed to keeping your computer's registry in shape. The way you do this is that you scan the registry regularly for inconsistencies and fix whatever faults are detected. You can't do this manually, you'll need a specialized software utility for doing this which is called a “registry cleaner" or “registry repair tool".
These tools have the sole purpose of detecting and repairing inconsistencies in the registry database. You can usually do this (semi-) automatically and most tools allow you to make a backup of the registry database prior to repairing it, just in case something should go wrong.
There are numerous registry cleaners on the market, and how good they are at their job varies greatly. The most important thing to look for is whether a tool allows you to make backups and of course how good a job it does at detecting and repairing registry errors without removing anything that's supposed to be there.
Read Registry Cleaner Reviews
For comprehensive user and expert reviews of the best registry cleaners, go to http://flockrank.com/computer/software/tools-utilities/registry-repair/ . If you're looking for a recommendation, read the PC Tools Registry Mechanic Reviews on the same site. There is a free trial download available for the most registry cleaners, which will give you a good idea whether the tool will be able to detect and fix your specific registry errors.