Microsoft

Repair your corrupted Windows registry file the easy way

Any long time Windows user knows that a single corrupt registry entry can kill an entire Windows installation. Jack Wallen takes a look at the features of the open source application Little Registry Cleaner.

Any longtime Microsoft Windows user knows that a single corrupt registry entry can kill an entire Windows installation. And, if you do not have the skills to manually edit your Windows registry, having an application to simplify registry editing can make life so much easier. Of course, there are plenty of proprietary registry cleaners, but there are also open source registry cleaners as well.

One of these open source tools is Little Registry Cleaner. In this blog post we will take a look at this open source registry cleaner to see if it can handle the task

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download.

Little Registry Cleaner features

Little Registry Cleaner (LRC) is one of the nicest and easiest of all the registry cleaners (open source or not). This tool puts you a mere two clicks away from fixing your registry. But LRC doesn't limit you to only scanning and fixing your registry. LRC also offers the following features:

  • Detects and removes unnecessary and/or inaccurate registry entries from the registry
  • Offers an easy to use Startup Manager to control what applications are starting at boot
  • Opens regedit from a menu entry
  • Includes Ignore List
  • Gives you Registry restore ability
  • Allows you to uninstall applications with an Application Manager
  • Provides a simple user interface

Judging from the feature list, one could conclude the name of the application not appropriate. Fortunately, for the user, the features all work and work well.

Getting and installing

Installing Little Registry Cleaner is fairly standard. Download the installation file, double-click on the file, and walk through the installation steps. Once the installation is complete, you will find the entry in its own submenu of the Start menu called Little Registry Cleaner.

When you start Little Registry Cleaner, the main window (Figure A) allows you to do everything you need to do (outside of making any configuration changes).

Figure A

Little Registry Cleaner's main window allows easy access to all features.
Using Little Registry Cleaner, as stated earlier, is a snap. With the main window open you can quickly run a scan of the registry by clicking Scan Registry. The scan will happen quickly and will report all errors found (Figure B).

Figure B

Looks like LRC found a few errors.

To repair any errors, simply click the Fix Problems button.

Outside of doing a marvelous job of cleaning the registry, one of the best features of this tool is the uninstall feature. Why is this so nice? Because not only does it uninstall the application, it makes sure all registry entries are taken care of as well.

To uninstall an application, click on the Tools menu and select the Uninstall Manager. This new window (Figure C) will allow you to do two things:
  • Uninstall applications
  • Remove stray registry entries that have remained after applications have been uninstalled

Figure C

If there is an X beside an entry, it is a leftover registry entry that needs to be removed.

To remove a registry entry, select that entry and click the Remove Entry button. To uninstall an application, select the application and click the Uninstall button.

Startup Manager

If you look at the Startup Manager main window (Figure D), you will see how many systems (and subsystems) start upon a Vista boot. With Little Registry Cleaner, it's a simple matter to control all these systems.

Figure D

Clicking on the View button will take you directly to that item's registry entry.
To add a new run item, click on the Add button to open up the New Run Item window (Figure E). In this new window you need to add a Name, File Path (this is the path to the executable), and any Arguments necessary for the executable.

Figure E

To add the File Path, click the "..." button and search for the explicit path.

Registry Restore

The final feature of Little Registry Cleaner is the Registry Restore. If you click the Restore Registry button, you will open a list of saved entries (Figure F) to choose from.

Figure F

What you see is a list of saved registries to select from.

Each time you scan and fix your registry, Little Registry Cleaner saves a copy of your registry so you will always have a working copy. To restore to another registry, select the registry you know you want and then click the Restore button. You will notice (Figure F) that the three registries all show a different size. This size differential is due to the use of Little Registry Cleaner. As you can see the first registry was quite a bit larger than the other two.

When you click the restore button, you will be asked if you are sure. Of course you always want to be careful when making changes to your registry as you can cause your machine to be unusable.

Final thoughts

If you are looking for a simple way to clean and fix your registry but want to have a few extra bells and whistles along for the ride, Little Registry Cleaner is the way to go.

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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.

43 comments
faizan.fateh
faizan.fateh

A couple of weeks ago i saw FreewareFiles featuring a product on its HOT DOWNLOADs with name Registry Recycler for fiixing and repairing errors. I downloaded it and found it just exceptionally well working. Free app and making my pc run like new .. So would recommend using it for repairing corrupted Windows registry..

http://www.freewarefiles.com/Registry-Recycler_program_84479.html


suikan
suikan

i have an issue where i run pc tool registry mechanic and at one point it just stop scanning... like its frozen it stop on the custom registry and i know something is wrong there.. how do i fix this issue to where i can fun the registery fully so it can fix whatever the issue it is?

mogul397
mogul397

I have windows 7 and the registry on one of the accounts got trashed. I cannot run the product to fix the registry, because it can't run on that account. The .exe is broken. What can I do? Alan yasu3@verizon.net

lwarom
lwarom

It is right that some Apps. like Registry Easy do modify Win7 Registry, such as in case above or mine- as in illustration bellow. Before one tries Sys. Restore can simply access Registry Editor-Regedit.exe(typed in Start, Search Progs and Files) look for: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT and make sure this key(.library-ms) does exist : HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.library-ms. If it doesn't or is modified needs to be created or corrected-modified creating and modifying strings and value data as follows: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.library-ms Name: Default, Type: REG_SZ, Value Data: LibraryFolder and in second line : Name: Content Type, Type: REG_SZ, Value Data: aplication/windows-library+xml * To create them: right click in right panel of RegEditor, click: New, String Value. Close RegEditor, you might wanna delete the 4 damaged files in Library Pane, and restart PC. It worked for me. The correct files will show up after restart. You're right using: Default File Type Associations - Restore , -linked bellow: http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/19449-default-file-type-associations-restore.html is easier then editing registry. I did not know of the existence of this small Restore App. I downloaded and still trying Little Registry Cleaner, but still be using Registry Easy and Uniblue PowerSuite 2012 and Tuneup Utilities 2012 paying a better attention to their settings. That's my past experience with these Registry Apps that pretend to be easy to be easy to use, and however pretentious to set to a Safe Modus Operandi.

.Martin.
.Martin.

I've been using the one in Ccleaner. I've found it to be very good.

Markoshoo11
Markoshoo11

As far as i am concerned no free registry cleaner will keep your PC from crashing for long.The thoroughness of the scans are not the same .Good luck if you use a free one without having a good paid to use afterwards. Try doing scans with a free one then try a paid one and you`ll see the difference.

tweakerxp
tweakerxp

I don't know about the rest of the folks here.. but this program, Little Registry Cleaner, is the only registry cleaner that I have ever used that you can ACTUALLY see a preformance increase with!! LOVE IT!!

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

After running the utility, got an error when loading Outlook 2003 on Vista 64-bit. Something about a corrupt outlvba.dll. Repairing fixed the problem.

dlnelson
dlnelson

I downloaded LRC and installed it, but the program won?t open.

elkhozai2
elkhozai2

Thank you a lot for this amazing software,In fact It enabled me to remove and uninstall some software programs I have hade installed them from net and were resistant to be uninstalled but after I have used this amazing little regirstry cleaner I have became able to uninstall them.

robinshoods
robinshoods

down load came without the setup.exe

rocks102
rocks102

After performing a registry clean, Can we restore the machine at earlier time. Let me make it more clear. If I will run this registry cleaner. will i be able to perform a system restore.

rtufts55318
rtufts55318

the cleaner is a good thing to use and is very helpful.

bill
bill

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Registry_cleaner is a well-written, thoughtful piece that indicates Registry Cleaners are hardly essential. I used Registry Mechanic for a long time but I HATE their hidden licensing keys (you cannot properly delete it when you do install it) and it's expensive renewal subscription. So, now I use SysInternals PageDefrag at boot time and occasionally run CCleaner to cheer myself up and feel I am doing something halfway useful. What I really need in a Registry Cleaner is a) automatic scheduling and fixing, preceded by b) System Restore backup and/or a registry backup and finishing with c) a report (e-mail or pop-up) os what happened and why. Other than that, LRC, CCleaner et al all do a reasonable job - it's a bit of a shame they all find something different to clean up in my Registry! :-)

Ravensnest
Ravensnest

I am not sure about this. I have been told by many that any registry cleaner is hazardous to the pc. From the windows forums to microsoft itself. So please tell me how this is going to work on my pc without turning it into a snivling pile of useless junk? I just would like to know, no offense intended.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

We have published several blog posts describing the features of third-party applications that claim to edit and/or clean the Windows Registry. What do you think of the Little Registry Cleaner? How does it compare to other registry editing applications?

Slayer_
Slayer_

I have never heard of the account specific settings in the registry, breaking an account.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Aside from Outlook 2003 getting hit, PowerDVD didn't work and neither did Adobe Flash Player. Both needed re-installations.

Huntsman.ks
Huntsman.ks

YES! providing: 1. The system will reboot to either Safe Mode or Normal, successfully, but then why would you want to assuming the Repair ran successfully. 2. Assuming System Restore will run. More often than not it fails due to disk corruption at some point along the Restore chain. System Restore writes incremental recovery points after the initial Restore file is written, so it will fail every Restore point after the corruption. Don't bank on it doing it's job when you need it most. It's a flawed schema.

Huntsman.ks
Huntsman.ks

I have used PageDefrag & use CCcleaner & occasionally use FreeRegistryDefrag with no problems. It's a worry if the Reg cleaners mentioned in this article and by others, can find different problems! Surely the Registry is well defined by Micro$oft, so why do different guys programs find different problems? Can anyone explain in precise terms?

tmalo627
tmalo627

Any time you edit the registry, be it manually or with an automated cleaner such as LRC or AMLSoft, there is a hazard there for undesirable things to happen. The important thing is to use the backup features that are available on those programs or Windows built in System Restore utility to revert any changes that caused this. That being said, cleaning stale or incorrect entries from the registry is something that can enhance the performance of your PC.

djeffries
djeffries

When it came up with a list of invalid registry items I told it to fix them. The net result was breaking my internet connections. If it cannot determine what is invalid then it should list it. I now do not trust it and will not use it.

paladin2
paladin2

I installed and ran LRC and found it wanting in comparison to the one I've used for years now, Registry First Aid. I know all about different cleaners and some of the others I've tried have been downright dangerous to anyone but a very experienced user. RFA lists it's findings in red, yellow and green categories. Green can be fixed without any danger but yellow and red you better have a good look at before deleting. Not being able to find any help in deciding what to 'fix' puts LRC with most of the others. Which is too complex for relative ameteurs like myself. But it is nicer than most of the pay programs I've tried and with a backup you can reverse any screw ups. But even that can get tricky if you render the computer unbootable. Which has happened to me with a not to name names "Big Name" registry cleaner.

hideaway
hideaway

This program trashed most of my taskbar items, my mouse and keyboard settings and part of my quick launch bar. Thank goodness it has a good restore system. Stepping thru the history list gives no readable indication of what it is deleting. It does seem to a good job of cleaning things that others don't.

Gravitywell
Gravitywell

Well, it found all kinds of stuff, but the repair problems part is grey: not functional... so much for cleaner!

turnerk
turnerk

LRC installed and ran easy and simple. I have been using Toni's EZ Cleaner 2.0 for a while which I like very much.

tmalo627
tmalo627

That's the one I use. It has all the functionality this article lists for LRC: easy registry backup and restore, a startup manager, an ignore list, an uninstall manager, and additionally has a process manager listing all running processes, and a disk cleaner to delete temporary files. I've been very happy with it. The one downside is there is no option for automatic updates.

mogul397
mogul397

Well I have never heard of one thing or another, but the "problem" seems to be that when you try to open anything it asks something about what application you want to use to open it. (any application. explorer, etc). And the problem allegedly has to do with .exe file extentions. That type thing that it cannot find. The solution has been to create another account. Other accounts can work fine. I used malwarebytes to find and reomove a couple things, and the problem (of the anti viruse stuff coming up and wanting you to buy it to fix the registry) went away. Maybe I am wrong. But that account can't really open any applications and registry connections to .exe paths seemed to be indicated. Thanks Alan

garyleroy
garyleroy

System restore is "flawed", you say. You're right in that it doesn't always work, but I can't even begin to count how many times I've seen this save a lot of work...either a full system reinstall, or at least a restore from a disk image. I've seen all sorts of backup systems fail, including disk imaging apps and automatic backups ala Norton Ghost or others. For something that runs in the background, at no cost to the user, automatically and by default, Windows system restore has been an extremely useful tool. Yes, you have to make sure to restore far enough back to be sure to correct the problem, and it won't always work if disk corruption or virus/malware has disabled it or corrupted it, but I can remember so many times I've seen a happy user using their computer again in minutes, maybe just helped over the phone to run system restore, when otherwise they'd have had expensive and time-consuming solutions and maybe lost data in the process.

RipVan
RipVan

Windows can't clean up properly after itself. Third party cleaners speed up the system and remove garbage that it's own missing garbage collection won't remove. I use a couple and don't even remember the names. They have never hosed the system, and I do edits by hand as well, and haven't ever had a problem with those. I'll give this one a try. And if you think it makes a problem for system restore, run the tool and then do a restore point. I haven't ever done it, but it ought to work. Name it appropriately and you should be able to go back. If it doesn't work, don't ever try it again.

Ron_007
Ron_007

on the programmer. Programmers have different levels of skill and knowledge. Sure the registry is well defined, but most of the details of the definition are not available to the general public. Since the registry depends on those "universal ID" "numeric code names", if you don't have access to the cross reference translating the ID back to specific applications, you (as a programmer) are probably going to be conservative about messing with it. Also, every programmer does not have access to the details of how every program has done it's specific registry entries. Also, there are differences in opinion on what constitutes a "bad" registry entry. Is it an "orphan" entry for a program that has been uninstalled (I think yes)? Is it a file extension "associated" to a program that is no longer installed (I think yes)? Just to name a couple of common 'errors'. There are many more to be considered. The end result is that every "registry cleaner" program has a slightly different set of criteria it searches for and "corrects". You have to find the one(s) that agree the most with how you think (and that don't cause crashes with your specific installation details: OS, drivers, applications ...)

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Especially, machines not programmed to think. With any registry modification, you should think for your self and check. Or be prepared to take responsibility for what amounts to your own mistake. If it was a fully automated search-and-destroy tool - then you'd have some small deniability - now you don't.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Or, IT? Whatever. I now do not trust you and will not rely on you further.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Just make a new one. And copy the files over.

desirawson
desirawson

It's made to "look like" XP for all the complainers out there. Plus all the "goodies" that Certified Vista personnel love and utilized often (but most techies REFUSED to learn/find/utilize)have been removed. MS makes its own free registry cleanup @ http://onecare.live.com/site/en-Us/center/cleanup.htm# and you don't have to install LIVE ONE CARE to use it. MS bashing is getting so old. Vista had some glitches but the fixes came, and fast (I've been certified for over 2 1/2 years). The advantages far outweighed the issues, including the size. No one could understand MS running outside of Admin mode, until you simply "verified" that you wanted to do what you were about to do, but techies constantly complain about how users screw up their computers. Vista built in the answer and all hell broke loose. Now, because no one can handle change or learning how easy Vista is to use, MS has cow-towed to all the whiners and created 7 for those of you who cannot handle a much more USER FRIENDLY OS, just because a few things were moved to another location from XP and so many extra functions were added (did you expect the size to be smaller, really?) I will stick with Vista thank you, until MS puts the functions back in that techies "couldn't stand" that actual users found as amazing improvements. (Example - in Vista Explorer the directory moves over when you point your mouse at it to reveal what you are looking for and even opens a folder that has folder inside if you hold your mouse over the + for 20 seconds - has been REMOVED in Windows 7! This function was so simple and so convenient but no techie could stand the simple and easy functionality of such an idea.) Thank you tech republic for attempting to educate these people about Vista. It was a nice try...

paladin2
paladin2

Most of MS 'tools' are inferior junk and the system would be better without them. The defragger, antispy (formerly GIANT Antispy, a good program till MS got their hands on it), disk cleanup tool, backup tool and all the rest are junk. So you buy Perfect Disk, Acronis and take your pick on the antispy, Defender places next to last in the 'free' offerings there. And using Windows uninstall is a joke, with programs like Revo Uninstaller available for free. Obviously MS doesn't give a crap about the 'tools' in it's system so I'd prefer they just don't further clutter up the system with them in the first place. And don't hold your breath waiting for any change, in the Windows 7 RC everything's more or less the same.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Migrating won't be easy, but depending on your requirements, can substantially reduce licensing costs. Most Linux distributions use the Gnu General Public License. This document (30-page PDF) is a comparison of the Windows EULA and the GPL. In general, the GPL generally bestows user rights where the EULA specifies user restrictions and indemnifies Microsoft. I don't know what the MacOS user license looks like.. As to migrating from Windows to a Linux distribution, your requirements will determine whether that is possible and how easy or hard it will be. Right up front, AutoCAD, Solidworks, and Photoshop do not have Linux/Unix versions, although alternatives are available. If you use these applications in your business, complete migration may not be possible; you may have to stay with Windows for the workstations using those applications. If your requirements are for basic office software (office suite, email, internet), then the change to a Linux distro may be fairly easy, requiring only some user training. I don't know what your requirements are, so I can't recommend a particular Linux distribution to you. Each distrubution is different and each is built for a purpose. My suggestion is that you review the choices and options, download some distributions, install them, and use them for a while to evaluate how well they will meet your requirements. I recommend Ubuntu, PCLinuxOS, and Mandriva as good starting points. You can find links to most Linux distributions at http://distrowatch.com/. Other Linux-related links: Migration tips - http://www.linuxlinks.com/beginners/ Linux "home page" - http://www.linux.org/ Migration ebook (free) - http://happi2share.blogspot.com/2009/05/moving-from-windows-to-linux.html More migration tips - http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9033804 Linux equivalents of Windows applications - http://www.linuxlinks.com/article/20070701111340544/Equivalents.html Even more migration tips - http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/linux/library/l-roadmap.html

Ravensnest
Ravensnest

Yes it is understood that by agreeing to this we are pretty much stuck with it. However is there another OS out there that does not make this same claim? What are we to do? What about MAC? Does it have the same end user agreement? Is there one out there that is the best? One that has everything we need in it so we don't have to go looking around for things like Maintenance tools outside of the OS? If so let me know please. I will check it out and switch to it.Thank you.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

In fact, you've agreed to almost anything legal that Microsoft does to you. You've agreed that that the software only has to work for 90 days and if it doesn't, Microsoft can replace it or refund your money at their convenience. The Windows EULA warranty clauses basically state that if Windows doesn't work properly, you can't blame Microsoft: [i]...Microsoft and its suppliers provide the Product and support services (if any) AS IS AND WITH ALL FAULTS, and hereby disclaim all other warranties and conditions, either express, implied or statutory, including, but not limited to, any (if any) implied warranties, duties or conditions of merchantability, of fitness for a particular purpose, of reliability or availability, of accuracy or completeness of responses, of results, of workmanlike effort, of lack of viruses, and of lack of negligence, all with regard to the Product, and the provision of or failure to provide support or other services, information, software, and related content through the Product or otherwise arising out of the use of the Product. [/i] (excerpt from the Microsoft EULA (End User License Agreement)

Ravensnest
Ravensnest

So here is the dilemma...If these reg cleaners do not agree on everything then let's all of us get together and let Windows know we are not satisified. We all need to voice our needs to microsoft and get them to come up with an internal registry maintenance program that knows the windows registry and what it needs to run at it's best. This should have been a part of every OS from the start. What is it with Microsoft that it can't even come up with one of the most important features in any of their OS as a fully functional and correct registry maintenance program? I feel this is something that needs to be addressed by Microsoft right now. Never mind all the third party stuff. MS needs to do this.

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