If you're a typical Windows user, you're probably familiar with RegClean, a small, but unsupported utility from Microsoft. I've used it regularly over the years and found it to be an excellent utility for quickly and efficiently cleaning the registry. A while back, I was on a consulting job performing a troubleshooting operation on a computer running Windows 98 that was badly in need of a good registry cleaning. Unfortunately, my handy Troubleshooting CD, which contained a copy of RegClean, was mysteriously missing from my briefcase. No problem, I thought, I'll just download a copy of RegClean from the Microsoft site. However, all I found was a Knowledge Base article that contained the following notice:
The RegClean utility is no longer supported and has been removed from all Microsoft download sites
Apparently, since RegClean is only compatible with Windows 95, Windows 98, and Window NT, Microsoft decided to yank it from their site now that Windows XP is the preeminent operating system.
So, in immediate need of a registry cleaning utility, I set out to find a suitable replacement for RegClean. As you can imagine, searching the Internet for a registry cleaner turned up literally hundreds of programs. As I sifted through the results, I found several that sounded interesting and had good ratings. Unfortunately, I also discovered that many of the developers of these registry cleaning products leaned towards the "more is better" side of the line. All I really wanted was a utility, like RegClean, that focused on just cleaning the registry.
I then found Registry Clean Pro, from the QSX Software Group. This little program was just what I was looking for: a simple utility for quickly and efficiently cleaning the registry without all the unnecessary bells and whistles. As I began using Registry Clean Pro, I learned that, in addition to cleaning the registry, this utility also allowed me to effectively analyze and understand the types of problems found in the registry. I now have a new Troubleshooting CD containing Registry Clean Pro and have found it to be an excellent replacement for my old trusty RegClean. Plus, it works on all versions of the Windows operating system. As such, I thought that my fellow consultants might want to learn more about this little gem.
Downloading Registry Clean Pro
You can download a free trial version of Registry Clean Pro from the utility's Web site. This free trial version will perform a comprehensive registry clean operation that looks for and removes invalid entries from seven of the nine main registry sections. The full version, which you can purchase for $29.95, looks for and removes invalid entries from all nine main registry sections. The QSX Software Group uses the ShareIt software registration and sales provider to process its online orders. Once you download the installation program, installing Registry Clean Pro is a snap. You just follow the steps presented by the setup wizard.
A registry cleaning operation
Once you've installed Registry Clean Pro, using it is pretty straightforward as it takes advantage of the familiar wizard format. When you launch it, you'll see the introductory screen, which provides you with three options, as shown in Figure A.
|The opening screen provides you with three options for working with Registry Clean Pro.|
As you can see, the first two options are pretty self-explanatory and are most useful when you're troubleshooting a computer on a consulting job. The third option allows you to enable background monitoring and to schedule regular scans of the registry. I've never enabled either of these features on my clients' systems because the popup prompts and reminders tend to cause unnecessary alarm, which usually results in an unnecessary call to me. I'd much rather perform a manual registry clean operation on a client system when troubleshooting a problem.
Now, don't get me wrong. The background monitoring and scan scheduling are great features to have and are very well implemented. In background monitoring mode, Registry Clean Pro periodically performs quick checks on specific areas of the registry so as not to interfere with your regular computing operations—it won't slow the computer down. And the schedule feature allows you to plan full registry scans during periods when the computer isn't being used.
You must be there
Keep in mind that when Registry Clean Pro runs via a schedule, it doesn't run in an unattended mode—someone must be there to answer the prompts. As such, you can't schedule it to run after hours when no one is around.
When you select the Clean The Registry option and click Next, you'll see the Select Scan Type screen, which prompts you to choose either a full scan or a custom scan, as shown in Figure B. If you're not exactly sure where in the registry the problem exists, you should choose the Full Scan option. However, if you have a good idea of where the problem might lie, you can narrow the scan and save yourself some time by selecting the Custom Scan option.
|If you have a good idea of where in the registry the problem is, you can save yourself time by selecting the Custom Scan option.|
Choosing the Custom Scan option and clicking Next brings up the screen shown in Figure C, which, as you can see, provides check boxes that you can use to specify exactly what sections of the registry you want to scan.
|You can narrow the scan operations by targeting specific areas of the registry.|
If you want to find out the types of settings contained in each of the registry sections, you can click the Help link and access detailed information about each section in the Help system. You can then get even more information by investigating the Registry Clean Pro Glossary.
Keep in mind that before Registry Clean Pro actually scans the registry, it will prompt you to close all running applications to prevent them from altering any registry entries while the scan is in progress.
Once Registry Clean Pro completes the registry scan, it will let you know how many problems it found, and it will prompt you to choose how to proceed as shown in Figure D. If you're looking for a quick fix, you can select the Clean The Registry Automatically option. However, if you want to take a closer look at the types of problems Registry Clean Pro found in the registry, you can select the Display The List of Errors option.
|If you want to take a closer look at the problems, you can choose the display option.|
I strongly recommend you choose the display option as it will usually reveal information that will prove valuable in analyzing and effectively troubleshooting the cause of the problem. As you can see in Figure E, the Select Entries To Remove page not only allows you to choose which invalid entries to remove, but it also provides you with several ways to view and study the problem areas.
|One of the neatest features of Registry Clean Pro is that it allows you to study the problem areas in more detail rather than blindly fixing them.|
The Sections To Show drop-down allows you to focus on problems in specific areas of the registry. The Show As drop-down allows you to view the registry keys containing the problems or to view descriptions of the problems; this is very valuable information.
The end result
If you've used Microsoft's RegClean utility over the years, you're sure to appreciate Registry Clean Pro, which, as you've seen, is as straightforward a tool as RegClean. Yet Registry Clean Pro goes one step further in that it provides you with a nice way to study the problems it finds in the registry.