The Windows registry is an index of instructions your computer requires to allow it to operate correctly. If you look at the registry in a text editor, it appears to be a long list of gobbledy-gook though to the operating system, it’s very important information concerning things like ports, user profiles, installed hardware, applications (programs) and types of documents (data).
When your computer is brand new, everything should operate perfectly, smoothly and fast but after a period of time, the Windows registry contains a lot of pieces of data that are no longer valid. Some of these orphaned bits are inherited from software that was uninstalled improperly or incompletely. Others were moved improperly by the system and though they continue to exist on the hard drive, Windows is unable to find them because the entry for them in the registry is no longer correct.
Overwhelmed with these orphaned bits and pieces of data, the registry runs slowly and error messages and system crashes begin to occur. A good registry cleaner will identify all those stray parts and show which ones are able to be safely removed. Once in a while, the same file is utilized by more than one computer program. Even though one of the computer programs that uses it has been deleted, the file should stay for the other programs that require it to operate.
Good registry cleaning software should provide you an opportunity to approve or disapprove the elimination of each bit of information that it suggests can be safely erased. If you have deleted all of the computer programs you are no longer using, old file folders, etc. and if you have utilized your anti-virus and spyware removal programs and even then, your computer is crawling along like a turtle, it’s time to use a registry cleaner.
The reason to use a registry cleaner program in lieu of trying to do it manually is that it’s tricky to establish which items belong with which applications. The danger is that you may inadvertently wipe out an important item which will then cause your system to crash. One way to guarantee that you won't be creating a mountain of stray registry entries is to always utilize the “Windows Add/Remove Programs” function located on the control panel to erase programs. Locate the control panel by way of the Start button.
Before you start utilizing a registry cleaner, it's best to create a full backup of your computer’s hard drive. I recommend Norton Ghost® as backup software because it produces an image (snapshot) of your entire hard drive, including the Windows operating system, the registry, and all files and programs. So, a restore using Norton Ghost® puts everything back exactly the way it was, saving you the trouble of re-installing Windows, then all your computer programs from program disks you might not still have, and then all the files. By backing up your hard disk this way, if anything goes wrong during the registry cleaning process, you can easily put back your drive to the way that it was before you began.
You can also use the Windows System Restore feature but I don’t advise it. System Restore will work only if your computer is running properly. In the case that you have done something during the registry cleaning process that causes your computer to stop running and you cannot get it functioning again, System Restore won’t help you much. That’s why I suggest the Norton Ghost® route. If you insist on trying System Restore go to Start> All Programs> Accessories> System Tools> System Restore. Tell System Restore to restore your hard drive to an earlier time (before the attempt to clean the registry).
There are many registry cleaners on the market. Some are freeware, some are shareware and still others are paid software. With so much at risk, I recommend you part with a few bucks for a good paid application. Take the time to choose the best one by reading reviews from people who have actually used the programs. Just Google “registry cleaner reviews. ”
© 2011 Robert M. Gillespie, Jr.
About the Author:
Bob Gillespie writes on many subjects including Windows registry cleaning. He is a full-time Internet marketer and author who lives on the island of Maui in Hawaii. Learn more about Windows registry cleaning at Bob's blog at:
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