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Gold’en Rant : Windows Registry cleaners - who needs ‘em?

Back in the days of 16-bit Windows - before Windows 95 was unleashed on an unsuspecting audience - every Windows application had a INI file that contained program configuration settings.

Then along came the Windows Registry, which contains everything the INI file does, but with the addition of nested keys, sub-keys and even binary data.

All clever stuff. Except that several software vendors claim that over-large Registry index files can slow down and even impair a Windows machine.

So you need a Registry cleaner. But unless you’re a programmer, you don’t.

The reason, I discovered this week, is that, whilst an over-large Registry file with settings for long-since deleted applications uses up a bit of extra disk space, the overall efficiency of the Windows machines is not affected.

Well, not unless you’re counting the extra milliseconds it takes to read a seven megabyte - over a six megabyte - file into memory.

But the Registry cleaning software vendors will tell you that Registry files are database files, complete with their own indexes, so orphaned items waste computer processing time.

No they don’t, as the Windows system rebuilds the indexes after every program change.

Ah, but Registry cleaners correct problems that can cause system crashes and error messages, don’t they?

No they don’t - you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that can link a Windows crash to a Registry issue.

So who really needs Registry cleaners?

My conclusions are that it’s only people who directly edit the Windows registry at a programming level who need to tidy up the Registry. Most Windows users will never need to do this.

But I was forgetting who REALLY need Registry cleaners - the software companies that sell these little more than useless utilities to an
unsuspecting public, that’s who…