Poll: Do you recommend users run third-party OS utilities (registry cleaners, hard drive tools, etc.)?

From registry cleaners to hard drive tools, the Web is awash with third-party OS utilities. Should average users embrace these tools or shun them?

For almost as long as there have been operating systems, there have been third-party utilities designed to support/improve the OS. And despite the current versions of Windows, OS X, and Linux including nearly every feature but the kitchen sink, the Internet is still awash with registry cleaners, hard drive tools, data shredders, and the like.

Regardless of whether these tools actually provide a feature not built into an OS or combine multiple features into a simple process, they all claim to make the user's life a little easier. And, many do. Unfortunately, there are an equal number of annoying, useless, and downright dangerous OS utilities floating around the Web. Throw novice users into the mix, and you have a support call waiting to happen.

So my question is:

Note: I deliberately left off a Yes answer that was qualified with user skill level. In want to know how many TechRepublic members think the average user should avoid third-party OS utilities altogether. Do the hazards just outweigh the benefits for most individuals. Also, I am excluding antivirus and and antispyware software.

By Bill Detwiler

Bill Detwiler is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the ...