Software

Five free Windows registry cleaners to keep your system running smoothly

If you decide to use a registry cleaner, make sure you choose one that's reliable and safe. Here are some excellent options.

Along with viruses and malware, the registry is the Achilles Heel of Windows. From within that hierarchical database, the operating system can be rendered unbootable, slow, or problematic. So it behooves the admin (or the user) to keep the registry as clear of errors as possible.

Here's the problem. With rampant and careless software installation, the registry gets mucked up quickly. And when the registry gets mucked up, bad things happen. Aside from being fastidious with your software management, you can use various tools to help keep the registry clean and free from errors. There are tons of registry cleaners out there, some of which do what they promise. Others are snake oil or worse. Here are a few apps you can trust to handle the job and keep your registry as clean as possible (without manually running a fine comb through every entry).

1: CCleaner

CCleaner is my go-to cleaner. I know it gets a lot of flack for having to be run multiple times (to fully clean the registry), but it always does the job, and never have I seen CCleaner render a system unbootable or worse for wear. One of the things I like most about CCleaner (aside from the fact that it will also rid your machine of temporary Internet files) is that it will always prompt you to back up your registry before you run the cleaning tool. CCleaner is also a mid-level cleaner, in that it does not go too deeply into the registry, so you don't run the risk of breaking your machine.

2: Comodo System Utilities

Comodo System Utilities is another product with more features than just registry cleaning. This tool will dig a bit deeper than CCleaner but is just as safe. Comodo is one of those companies that's not nearly as well known as it should be. Its products are always topnotch and affordable. The System Utilities tool is free, so you can't go wrong. This registry cleaner should be considered more of a deep cleaner. Once you've run it, you should experience a much-improved system. And like CCleaner, I've never seen Comodo System Utilities brick a PC.

3: TweakNow RegCleaner

TweakNow RegCleaner works with Windows XP, Vista, and 7 and does a fantastic job of removing obsolete registry entries. Although not as deep a cleaner as Comodo, TweakNow RegCleaner is one of the fastest registry cleaners you will ever use. If you're looking for a mid-level cleaner and speed is the name of the game, TweakNow is what you want. TweakNow RegCleaner will also clean up traces from Web browsing, clean Windows temporary files, compact Google Chrome and Firefox database files, optimize Windows settings, and optimize network settings.

4: Wise Registry Cleaner Free

Wise Registry Cleaner Free offers a unique restore feature that most other registry cleaners don't have. With this feature, you can restore back to the previous registry state with the click of a button. Wise Registry Cleaner also offers registry defrag, scheduling of tasks, registry backup, and free technical support. Of all the free registry cleaners, Wise Registry Cleaner Free should be considered the Mac Daddy of them all. One nifty feature: If you double-click a registry entry (after scanning), Wise Registry Cleaner will open that entry up in the Registry Editor, where you can manually edit or delete it.

5: AML Registry Cleaner

AML Registry Cleaner is more of a power-user registry cleaner (though not to the level of manual editing) and offers added features, like keyword search, the ability to add your own junk file removal, and the ability to see all startup applications. AML Registry Cleaner finds quite a lot more keys for removal than most other cleaners. This, of course, can be considered both good and bad. For me, this is one of those tools I use when low- and mid-level cleaners can't find junk entries causing problems with the registry. But beware: With the power this tool offers, you can run the risk of breaking the registry. So as you would do with all registry cleaners... back up your registry before you do anything to it or with it!

Your favorite?

There are plenty more registry cleaners available. But these are the tools I used more often than not and they've always been a huge help in getting a system running in a much faster, more reliable state. Do you have a go-to registry cleaner not mentioned here? If so, what is it and why do you prefer it?

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

86 comments
julliroxen
julliroxen

The caliber of information that you're offering is merely wonderful.

techieindeed
techieindeed

Cleaning your registry will ensure the smooth running of your computer. Furthermore, it is important to have proper antivirus software to safeguard your data. For best results, have the job done from an expert IT support provider.


lisawayne
lisawayne

I thought all these were supposed to be free. I checked out them, but all are paid. Now i am using Ninja TuneUp, its trial version is free and very useful. 

Take a trail @ http://www.ninjatuneup.com/

t.alenduff
t.alenduff

I thought these were supposed to be free. I checked out the first one Ccleaner, and the free version doesn't really do a thing and for the portion for the cleaner they wanted $25. The second one I downloaded and ran, and then to fix the problems, I had to buy it. Don't even think I'll try the rest because if I'm downloading them to have to run them only to be told that I have to buy something, I'm only creating MORE registry problems in the end!

alfredan
alfredan

use krojam cleaner it is good

croberts
croberts

You should use one and ONLY one tool: Macecraft jv16 PowerTools (used to be called RegSupreme Pro) I have used this tool for the past decade on over 1,000 computers ranging from Windows ME/2000 to Windows 7/2008R2, and NEVER once had it cause a problem.

bgbt3nk
bgbt3nk

It may be "snake oil" but I've used ToniArts Easy Cleaner for years and it has never harmed my computer. It also has other utilities but I generally stay way from them. Happy with this one.

rhys
rhys

The list omits Little Registry Cleaner - possibly nobody else likes it? sourceforge.net/projects/littlecleaner To me registry cleaners are pretty much the same. My personal opinion is that the more you interfere the more likely you will do something wrong. LRC creates restore points and if I remember correctly can also restore the registry from any of your restore points from the application, it checks after a clean, gives plenty of options without making the user navigate a maze of options before it's usable. I can't really speak of other cleaners - lack of experience. When helping friends who "cannot find" installation disks so I can't reimage I do head for LRC. Recently a friend swore blind that the only registry cleaner to trust was CCleaner. I user LRC and then ran CCleaner and to my surprise there were a large number of "errors" detected by CCleaner after LRC had been run. When I looked over what CCleaner was removing I thought I would actually prefer to leave entries like those in place. Optimising the registry is a great idea, so what is optimal? If you don't know what the registry entries you removed were for chances are you won't know how to recreate them if/when you need them. My very small sample of 1 showed CCleaner was a lot more aggressive, and so would make the registry smaller (hence faster reads) but LRC was more conservative and would leave the computer in a state I was more comfortable with when I returned it to my less IT capable friend. Choose your tool. I don't go in for registry cleaners in my workplace or on my personal machines. If I really think there are problems that can't be solved in a normal matter of course I reinstall the OS. I have all my programs and data stored on a NAS, and in the cloud - not tricky these days. It's my preference to trade off increase my planned downtime, and reduce unplanned downtime.

RandallTabor
RandallTabor

The reasons for a registry cleaner may vary, but the most common problem is how the registry can impact performance and speed. Usually, most users do not even realize the need until the registry is quite clogged up and the registry is often not the only problem. In near desperation, I recently used PC Tune Up and had marvelous results. Because my results were so good, I cannot help but suggest it as a worthwhile alternative among "for pay" alternatives. Free cleaners may be quite good, but may only deal with the registry in a one-dimensional way. PC Tune seems to offer a more complete solution. Time will tell, but so far I am very pleased. Since it is a "for pay" company, I can expect that they will have technical support and stand behind the products performance. Meanwhile, the company allowed a free trial which proved the worth of the product. I plan to try the product in other PC's soon. That is the best recommendation I can make.

beachbouy
beachbouy

If you use a REAL uninstaller program, one that logs changes made to the system when installing new software, then registry cleaners are not as important. The problem with Ccleaner, and many other registry cleaner programs, is that they don't compact the registry after cleaning. Registry Life has this important feature. Programs like iTunes, QuikTime, any Adobe software leave a huge footprint in the registry. When you uninstall these programs, or when you run a registry cleaner, it leaves numerous vacant spaces that accumulate and bloat the registry file size. A good registry cleaner should include a utility for compacting the registry. Otherwise, only half the job is done. Cleaning the registry alone may not speed the system up very much. Cleaning AND compacting the registry makes a bigger difference.

thefishdoc
thefishdoc

Another free app is Advanced System Care. It has a registry cleaner as part of the total package. Does anyone else use this or have comments about this software?

vkozyrev
vkozyrev

I do not think it affects performance, but it sure makes me feel better about my computer! ;-)

oldfoggy
oldfoggy

Re: Rodo1 An exellent question! i've wondered the same thing for a very long time!

Rodo1
Rodo1

I tend to be a sucker for this type of thing, so I downloaded the Wise Cleaner. The first thing I saw was it asked if I wanted to set a restore point. I clicked yes and it showed a message "Setting restore poing..." If they have an error like this right off the bat, I wonder if I want to let them modify my registry (I didn't.). My other thought on this is if registry cleaning is so important, why doesn't Microsoft provide a cleaner? I would think they would know best how to do this. Just sayin'.

oldfoggy
oldfoggy

Has any one tried Abexo? I have used most of the mentioned cleaners and I've had mixed results. I use Glary and ccleaner for a quick clean but for a deep clean, I really like Abexo. Just sayin.

Daddy Tadpole
Daddy Tadpole

I've tried a few of them on Vista - they all did damage that took a while to repair. Sometimes malfunctioning seems to be due to stuff that didn't uninstall properly; that sometimes happens with M$ Office. Revo Uninstaller (free version) has worked for me in such cases.

nfrumer
nfrumer

Wise registry cleaner is the only one - I tested quite a few of them - that did not mess up my configurations of IIS, MySql, MS Sql, PHP & Visual Studio environments...

jelabarre
jelabarre

Part of the trick I find with registry cleaning is you have to get rid of any obsolete files it may be referring to first. If you uninstall an application, be sure you've completely deleted it's directories first. Empty your temp directories. Empty your recycle bin. Then run a registry cleaner. Follow that with NTregopt to defrag the registry. Boot with a liveCD, delete pagefile.sys and create a zero-byte file in it's place. Then defrag the drive. sometimes you'll need to do some steps over again. Once you've done all of these the system will be MUCH better. Of course, my favourite registry and system cleanup tool for Windows systems is a Linux install CD .

royala1
royala1

I start with Ccleaner when cleaning a clients computer. Then run Ncleaner which does a bit more on the rigistry side. Maybe the invalid registry entries won't speed up a computer substantially...although I've seen it happen in my 20 years...there is such a thing as "housecleaning" that includes all software and hardware. It also lets the non techie customer feel a bit more secure knowing you are doing all you can. I would suppose, though, that if I were paid by the 'hour' by an employer and not by the 'job' in my own computer business as I am, I wouldn't have much use for 'little' remedies and time for deep troubleshooting either. I also wouldn't have the loyal customers who rely on my services to save their computers.

glhowe1
glhowe1

I have been in the IT game for a long time and statistically, registry cleaners do hold significant value. I don't care what you are doing in IT... back up your data first. Duh. Any program, software, or system modification can cause problems. In fact, you can do nothing and a system can crash. It really does happen. There are some software applications that do react poorly to registry cleaners... of course. But there are also many times these cleaners do exactly what they are meant to do and work just fine.

Jim Johnson
Jim Johnson

Registry cleaners have saved my bacon. I've also seen them so totally flumix a system that it becomes unusable (you DID backup before doing this didn't you Mr./Ms. ...?) My rule of thumb is to do a backup, go ahead and run the scan. If you recognize an entry and KNOW it belongs to uninstalled software, go ahead and allow the cleaner to delete that entry. Unless you are absolutely, positively certain, leave it alone. In short, NEVER let a Registry cleaner just have its way with your system. ALWAYS do an item by item eyeball. Sure its slow. But how much time does it take to rebuild a corrupted system?

gumboisgood
gumboisgood

"I recommend xxxx as the only Reg cleaner to use.. if you MUST use one." You people are a sorry bunch of "experts". You can't even agree amongst yourselves if the registry needs to be cleaned or when or how. What do users at all levels of competency take away from this thread? More confusion than before they read it, that they can decide for their unqualified selves what is needed, and that any program or none are all the same. Disgraceful. Lose the false pride, get on bended knee and go to MS and ask for help. And before you tell me how bad MS is, note that your whole career is based around MS products.

airjos
airjos

Auslogics' Registry Cleaner wins this race, hands down. Iobit (Advanced System Care) got caught stealing: http://www.google.com/search?q=iobit+Advanced+System+Care+caught+stealing&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

muraliraj
muraliraj

I think ERUNT and NTREGOPT are often overlooked.Neat and light,when used in tandem,I have found them fast and error-free with an auto-backup option which comes in useful after crashes.Also.de-cluttering a bulky registry often makes my system go faster.

Cynyster
Cynyster

I recommend Ccleaner as the only Reg cleaner to use.. if you MUST use one. The registry is not a playground for the inexperienced or ill-informed. Be advised that is you have multiple users on a PC Mucking around in the registry even to clean it can spell disaster. What may be useless for one user may be required for another and Ccleaner at least is only looking at the current user. For those that are constantly installing software to try this out or check that out. I recommend spending your hard earned cash on VMWare. Test your software in a virtual environment first. Rather than trying to undo things after the fact.

hrosita9
hrosita9

I use the free Glary Utilities, in addition to cleaning the registry it mas many more options like deleting temporary files, finding duplicate files, etc.

luisperes
luisperes

I use Wintools.net Pro during many years in Windows XP and Windows 7 and also CCleaner without any problems.

Skullyvick
Skullyvick

I use Advanced Windows System Care for the heavy stuff. And TweakNow for the occasional wipe. Advanced Windows Sys Care if you ever use it will keep you forever. It has so many good features they're too long to list. It even goes and gets MS Updates and checks for vulnerabilities. It checks for Disk Errors, defrag's, checks for unused shortcuts, has a passive file defense mech. for the Sys32 folder and a Sys optimization for internet connections that actually works great. You can't do without it and AVAST! Anti Virus. Avast!'s top of the line virus software is better than anything out there by miles. Their "Sandbox" virus checker stops disaster cold. Use these two apps knowledgably, your PC worries are OVER! REALLY!!

kandries
kandries

@markku.niskanen : I am sorry to say so, but if you run a newly installed program without verifying (customizing) the default settings, you are asking for trouble. In these cases, not the program, but the user is to blamE; CCleaner never gave me any problem on XP SP3. I never blindly allow a program to run with default settings. Registry cleaners ? I'm glad they're around.

InvisibleBoss
InvisibleBoss

I also happen to use a "cleaner" when I notice there are "unwanted entries" in my registry. Mainly to remove the "trash" when allready knowing there ARE unwanted entries (or suspect). Still I dont really see an improvement of the speed or responds. As asked above, - I wonder if there are BENCHMARKS proving the reall benefit of a registry cleaning. Though, with these cleaners or "built in accessories", there is a positive and at times security issue, in deleting temporary files, cookies and a disk defrag at times (some skip defrag, because it's too slow. And sure it is, if seldom run).

Backeberg
Backeberg

This free package hasn't given me any problems with Windows 7. It includes a set of utilities: disk cleaner that finds and cleans out a heap of junk files; registry cleaner/defragger that finds and cleans out a lot of junk entries; reg back-up; broken shortcuts fixer/remover; startup manager and RAM optimizer, which can both be very useful when I'm working on a notebook with limited RAM; and various other utilities and optimizers. It's also very efficient at getting rid of junk browser extensions that have a tendency to install themselves without asking.

BRS
BRS

Tried several when beginning in IT. Know better now Revo does enough for all

GrizzledGeezer
GrizzledGeezer

"With rampant and careless software installation, the registry gets mucked up quickly." Rampant? Careless? I've been running my W2K installation for over ten years, and as far as I know, the Registry is working properly. PS: I assume the Comodo product is so-called because it speeds up Registry operations, and the Registry is no longer "draggin".

microbins
microbins

My experience is that whilst newer (faster) computers may see little gain from running a registry cleaner or defragging, there are a lot of older and slower computers that do benefit from both. If I do reccomend / use a Registry cleaner then I generally use CCleaner because, as noted, it is a low risk cleaner and does a backup by default (my experience with it is very good). On the strength of the article I think I will give Comodo a try - in a careful way of course :- )

theowlit
theowlit

100% agree with the sentiments of wizard57m, I would never recommend any of these programs. For such a miniscule gain there is potentially so much lost.

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

While on surface it appears that registry cleaners help, in many cases they do more harm. The few milliseconds gained from removing "dead" entries can more than be offset by the inadvertant removal of entries needed. I've seen more than a few Windows systems totally hosed because someone ran a registry cleaner on it and allowed it to remove what it detected as "bad" entries. Sure, way back in the Win9X days, cleaning the registry could boost startup time for Windows, but current professional opinion is against the routine use of "snake-oil" remedies such as registry cleaners by less-than-knowledgable users to "keep your system running smoothly". Modern Windows systems do a good job of ignoring invalid registry entries anyway.

mkhangan07
mkhangan07

I am using Ccleaner. It works but not up to the marks. And I think no registry cleaner works perfect. The reason is it just remove a temporary files and folders and some unwanted registries. While when you try to reinstall the same software which you have uninstall previously then it could not reinstall because computer says the software is already install in a system. This happens in all OS like Windows and Mac OS even. So then which one should we use which gives you a perfect work functionality.

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