Windows

The Windows Registry has a long history of problems

The registry has been around since Windows 3.1. Here's a classic tip from May 2000 that shows one way to keep it straightened out along with some updates and further discussion about the registry.

The registry was first introduced towards the end of Windows 3.1 as a way to central manage configuration changes and get away from the endless .INI files that plagued the Windows 3.x environment. The problem has always been how to manage the registry and how to keep it from becoming corrupt.

Today's Classic Tip comes from TechRepublic's  Windows 2000 Server Tip TechMail dated May 4, 2000 and concerns RegClean 4.1a:

======================

Today's Windows 2000 Server Tip REGCLEAN TO THE RESCUE

The classic utility RegClean is back for another bout with registry

clutter in its latest iteration, version 4.1a. Probably one of the

easiest utilities to use (just download and run), RegClean crawls

through your registry to identify and remove entries that are no longer

represented by an installed application or other registry-based

setting. You can read more about RegClean in Microsoft Knowledge Base

article Q147769.

http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q147/7/69.asp?RLD=30

The Microsoft document contains a link where you can download the self-

extracting archive, so go get it. Once you have it, run it. It's that

simple. When the utility is finished, it'll present you with a choice

to quit or to let it fix detected errors. Go ahead and let it fix them.

You won't have to feel bad if you think it's bungled something

important. That smart little RegClean creates a clickable Undo file

that'll put everything back the way it was.

===============

Unfortunately, the URL in that tip doesn't work anymore. You can still get RegClean 4.1a however from CNET's Download.com.  Don't run and download it though if you're running anything newer than Windows ME. Even though that tip appeared in the Windows 2000 Server TechMail, Regclean 4.1a wasn't designed for anything post-Windows 9x.

The registry cleaner/repair tool I use most often is CCleaner.  There are other options and tools around, but this works with Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Server 2003 - just about anything I've thrown at it.  So far and I've been lucky and it hasn't cause any problems.

Even if the tip URL isn't valid anymore, the basic concept is.  Occasionally you still need to do things to the Windows registry to keep it tuned and to get the junk out of it. Some people claim that your registry doesn't need to cleaned. I don't buy it. I've seen too many machines that have had problems or run too slow to start, but when you run a cleaner on them, the results are night and day.

51 comments
Henry Gates
Henry Gates

I used uniblue's reg cleaner and it works fine .but recently bought one as advised by my friend and it works fine.doesn't slow down my pc. the most interesting part was that it found out error more and was all cleaned up. Pc Registry cleaner

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

Most of the "junk" registry situations I see are from people constantly plugging in "stuff" and ripping it out. My fix: image the system incrementally from OEM and when you get this issue of "crud" buildup, nuke and pave the system and re-image. Fixes all sorts of conditions.

TeoMcDohl
TeoMcDohl

I personally find registry cleaners worthless. But what I find humorous is how some bloggers proclaim the best registry cleaner to use, while others claim they're not worth the kilobytes to download in the first place. I see cleaners needed for programmers and beta testers only.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

For the registry changes to work the computer would have to be re-booted.Not all registry changes will work.These changes go back to the Microsoft default setting.All card firmware should appear in the BIOS as pages.I even see the BIOS as having an AI (Artificial Intelligence)idea.However,nobody on Earth,including the author has ever seen the real BIOS.

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

In Classics Rock, http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/classic-tech/?p=129 I pointed out that there have been problems with the Windows Registry ever since Microsoft created it in Windows 3.x. The idea was to solve the problem of having tons of INI files, but in some ways, the registry just created new problems too. There are several cleaners that are supposed to fix the problems, but do they just do more harm than good, and which Registry cleaner would your recommend?

nepenthe0
nepenthe0

[i]...nuke, pave the system and re-image.[/i] Would you mind listing the specific steps you recommend? I cannot follow the lingo, belonging to a somewhat oldish group of participants. Thanks. Rick/Portland, OR

nepenthe0
nepenthe0

I clicked your links and reviewed these articles. You have provided the [i]evidence[/i] I requested, and I must admit, it makes me pause. Obviously this is a [i]user preference[/i] issue that hinges perhaps more upon philosophy than upon sound scientific principles. Let me explain briefly: My wife uses the Swiffer on the hardwood hallway several times a week. She's always impressed by the amount of dust collected by the Swiffer insert. Before [i]swiffing[/i], I don't see any dust, and I wouldn't notice if the hallway were neglected for a month (well, perhaps my allergies would notice). She's a compulsive housekeeper, and millions of such folks are determined to keep their homes as spotless as possible. You will never persuade them that it's not [i]necessary[/i] to dust every other day. I suspect this is the appeal of Registry [i]cleaners[/i]. If a cleaner does no harm, and it's free ([i]i.e.[/i], [b]CCleaner[/b]), folks are inclined to use it. They are not dissuaded by arguments that it's not [i]necessary[/i]. You have certainly met the burden of [i]production[/i] as they say in legal parlance, and I hope everyone at TR reads your post. Appreciatively, Rick/Portland, OR

nepenthe0
nepenthe0

Your insight regarding this issue merits further explanation. Why indeed waste time/resources to run [i]cleaner[/i] software? Before I have [i]cleaned up[/i] the registry, the cleaner shows me a zillion [i]unnecessary[/i] entries. They're gone in a mouse click, and everything seems to work fine. So I conclude that these registry entries were indeed [i]unnecessary[/i]. If they're useless, it seems reasonable to remove them. But I am open to a compelling counterargument. Would you be willing to disclose your evidence by way of follow-up post? Rick/Portland, OR

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I've been thinking of posting a discussion Monday mornings with links to all of BALTHOR's babblings from the previous week. I'd like to include a poll so we can vote on "Most Random", "Most Technologically Clueless", and "Closest to Accidentally Making Actual Sense". Maybe monthly we'd have the weekly winners back for a run-off, culminating in an annual "Best of BALTHOR" festival on the banks of the Ohio, with rejoicing peasants, slaughtering of fatted calves, quaffing of mead and ale, deflowering of maidens, etc. Any of the PTB's listening? Can I get swag for doing this?

TeoMcDohl
TeoMcDohl

Are you the same guy who thinks Linux has to run on top of Windows? ;)

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

stores the e-gremlins until they break their 'cage' and run amuck on my system... How insightful! :D

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

that backs it up and then copies it to %systemroot%\repair\ folder. Then if it becomes corrupt, it can be recovered to a -near to date- good version. Back it up every month or so. The script can be scheduled to run as well. or, just schedule a task for the registry backup to run, and point it to another HDD. either way. Or even, if you have Spybot Search and Destroy, I believe at the click of a button it will backup your reg as well.

nepenthe0
nepenthe0

I stumbled across this freeware a few weeks ago, which you can download at: http://www.ccleaner.com/ It is much faster than UltraWinCleaner, and so far, I've encountered no glitches running a registry clean. Now that I've confessed my total satisfaction with this software, I'm going to send these guys a donation. Rick/Portland, OR

WienSam
WienSam

My situation is such that I am no techie (even though I studied Business Computing Systems at university so I'm no idiot in the IT world either) but I am a self-employed, working-from-home, home alone, independent singer-songwriter and I depend on my computer for my 'virtual' band and for all my recordings. When the little blighter starts skip-dip-dippitying about the placeI figure 2 things: 1) It needs a defrag 2) The registry is damaged I have spent the last 2 years fighting with my computers and I am still having problems (I have 3 laptops and have lost en route a laptop and 2 external USB HDDs) I have also built my own desktops (I don't have even one any more) and am now totally dependant on 3 laptops - 1 is for my music and voice recordings, the second is for internet and email, the third is basically a glorified internet radio. In theory, I should only need ONE. RegCleaners are NOT necessary? I doubt it

Shellbot
Shellbot

except for the deflowering bit..

cmiller5400
cmiller5400

I Really want to know who BALTHOR is. (s)he/it must be a pen name for a regular... :)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

You're new here and may not have figured out that if TR is a community, BALTHOR is the village idiot.

christopher.fujii
christopher.fujii

CCleaner with Registry Mechanic. Both work wonders...one is free, one isn't. Just run CCleaner a couple times until no more bad entries are found, rinse and repeat with Registry Mechanic. And for pesky entries, search the registry manually, take over permissions as necessary and delete. You're good to go.

TeoMcDohl
TeoMcDohl

Programmers are reinstalling different builds of the same software over and over again. The same goes for beta testers. Hence why I referenced both of those. As a consumer, when you install office 2007, that's it. There is no "build 100" of Office 2007, then "build 110."

jchorney
jchorney

AS I read Mullins article (the first citation above), he makes the points that referents to non-existent or invalid files or locations are essentially ignored. Why then does he say of developers/ programmers "It?s important to ensure that you?re working with a clean machine to make sure previous problems don?t interfere with the latest version of your software."? Over the last 10 years, I've been gratified when the users I support have thanked me for the significant gains in performance, stability and boot time when I cleaned the registry. I don;t do it all the time and I don't do it for everyone. But, when I see a poky computer that's having stability issues and I know the user has done several installs/uninstalls (though hardly as many as a developer/programmer), I can usually depend on positive results from a registry cleaning. So, do invalid entries in the registry matter? My experience tells me that the answer is "without a doubt, sometimes."

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

trying to decrypt the post. Or just trying to see what crazy and ridiculous post is there. It seems to me that I often scratch my head at The BALTHORS posts, and either just move along or try to figure it out.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

is that some poor trusting soul might read what he says and mistake it for the truth. This is a guy who claimed the DST change wasn't going to happen, viruses are housed on the BIOS, and the U.S. gov't owns all source code. Theoretically this is site for professionals who should all know better, but we do get hobbiests and home users here who may not be able to separate the chicken salad from...; well, you know.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I can't wait to see what stupid thing he says next; kinda like 2nd lieutenants or ensigns.

OnTheRopes
OnTheRopes

It's interesting to see the results of some BALTHOR posts and has given me reason to think about how seemingly random postings to forums could be useful in other ways which I won't get into here. I generally say that whatever floats your boat is fine with me. I'd rather read nonsense that does no harm than read that which does. We've some of both here at TR huh?

jdclyde
jdclyde

As long as you enjoy what he posts, that is good enough.

jdclyde
jdclyde

There seems to be a fascination with him that I just don't get. I stopped reading his posts quite a while ago.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Our assumptions about him, about each other, and about ourselves, in turn driving what we post and how -- these assumptions reveal more about us than any subject we draw here, BALTHOR included. Maybe it is he who pokes the rest with a stick to see what happens. Wouldn't matter if he makes sense or near sense or nonsense. What would matter is what assumptive monstrosity he provokes.

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

nah.. I think s/he/it is highly medicated. Kind of like lmunday or whatever the wasteoids name is, but to a new extreme.

jdclyde
jdclyde

First, does "The Balthor" realize he is the butt of many a joke? Second, will this just encourage him to be even more... um... whatever he is? Third, from reading his posts, I always assumed he was just mildly retarded or something.... :0

Shellbot
Shellbot

Who said were poking fun??!! If yer serious about it, its ok...isn't it??

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

but isn't poking fun at BALTHOR via podcast to the world on a regular basis taking it a bit far? ???

jdclyde
jdclyde

it is WICKEDLY fun.... ]:) [i] why is a virgin like a balloon? one little prick and it is gone.

kkopp
kkopp

I'll agree with both points. BALTHOR blog would be fun to see. And Deflowering maidens sounds just mean. I mean really, why would you want to go around stealing flowers from the ladies.... :p

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

That would have brought tha rating up a few notches!!! Wow, that would be the TR interview of the year :D

cmiller5400
cmiller5400

I have not had a chance to listen to it yet. I will need to check it out at lunch time...

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I think Sonja mentioned in the last TROL that he'd declined to be interviewed for TR Spotlight. What a pity; such an interview would probably replace 'Wizard of Oz' as a primary stimulus while dropping acid.

Four-Eyes
Four-Eyes

How BALTHOR doesn't incessantly type in ALL CAPS anymore? I'm actually picturing him/her as thawed-out ancient Viking who's slowly adapting to technology and the rudiments of modern civilization. :P

santeewelding
santeewelding

I've seen gradual changes -- a cleaning up over time. Once he changes one of his last habits of leaving no space between the period at the end of one sentence and the initial letter of the next, watch out. He may lure even himself into sense.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Is what I meant. Don't you worry about else. You have it covered. If you screw up supremely, I will be there. As, I am sure, you will be there for me.

seanferd
seanferd

I usually try to show only my kinder side, or walk away. I do differently regarding spammers, trolls, and people who make threats. Mostly.

seanferd
seanferd

http://www.ccleaner.com/ The normal cleaning is for junk files. Select Registry, and it will scan and clean it. It is a fairly "gentle" reg cleaner, so it doesn't break things. (Always let it do a backup, though.)

gmdp
gmdp

Which one is?? And how exactly do I get in to remove those pesky entries? I am not sure, but I am sure I need to do something, cause my precious is bogged down so bad, I need to try. Thanks for the suggestions, I thought it was something like that, and knew I could find help here. Gina.

Four-Eyes
Four-Eyes

Therefore it MUST be true. :D Personally, I never measured performance gains before and after. However, I do see obvious performance improvements during Windows startup when I tweak the stuff that runs during boot-up using MSCONFIG.

nepenthe0
nepenthe0

See his post below. He argues that we're wasting our time, and risking serious problems. What evidence can we furnish to support our position? Rick/Portland, OR