What’s a registry, and why would you want to clean it? Good questions, and I’ll try to answer them.
In older versions of Windows, and today too (in varying degrees), each program (and Windows itself) had to keep some settings that governed how things worked (or didn’t). Windows maintained 2 main file for this purpose, being win.ini and system.ini. Ultimately Microsoft considered this too unwieldy and changed their collective mind (not in the Borg sense 🙂 ) to use a different construct to hold settings. This became the registry. The registry is basically 2 files (for each local user) that is a database. It holds way more info than system.ini and win.ini ever did. Like a good cup of coffee it is dark and mysterious, holding many secrets within.
Because of its complexity it is easy to hide things there. Sure, things are named but what does
“My ComputerHKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMControlSet003Enum NextParentID.2682c4c5.4” mean to you? No, I didn’t make that up and yes, to some degree I do understand what it is.
Who would want to hide things in the registry and why? Many software companies put settings into the registry in an awkward way for 1 very good reason. Protection. Protection against theft of their software (oh yes, it’s their software, not yours), protection of intellectual property and other reasons too.
Now, as to why you’d want to clean it… well, that’s a bit of hocus pocus I think. Many so-called experts claim that over time the registry can become fragmented, filled with junk or holes and perhaps invalid entries. That may be the case but does it need to be ‘cleaned’? Microsoft have never produced a cleaner so it makes me wonder. I’ve never seen them actively promote the use of one either.
One such company is … nah, I’d better not name them but I will discuss my experiences. This company has several accounting software packages on the market. Some of the home versions are relatively cheap, under $100. My wife keeps the home accounts in this product so is rather protective of it and doesn’t like anything happening on her computer. At the time it was the one that I used too.
As was (but no longer is!) my way I decided to test this new program I’d found on the internet. Yep, a registry cleaner. It merrily purported to scan my registry and produced a reports showing all manner of oddities. So many that it was impossible to even guess at the outcome. Hey, maybe it did wonders for the system, but one thing I can say for sure, it broke *******, that program that shall not be named. Clearly, it had embedded an entry in the registry that the cleaner thought had no business being there. One way or another the cleaner broke it, big time! Wifey was NOT happy.
The software would not reinstall claiming it was already installed (most of it least still was) and uninstalling did not allow reinstallation either. There was nothing left but to call their ‘tech support’. At $4.95 per minute (yep, nearly as much as Bill Gates) I got mucked around backwards and forwards. The best line I got was ‘Can you hang on a minute’. No, I can NOT! Grrrr! Anyway, after several minutes they claimed we must have done a certain action (that definitely was not the case), and that was that. Couldn’t use the software and the data was nuked. Not a great outcome 🙁
I try to not base an opinion on one experience, but that was a very bad experience that I don’t intend to go through again.
Registry Cleaners…? (I) just say no!