According to Wikipedia, “the Windows registry is a database which stores settings and options for the operating system for Microsoft Windows.” The Registry is kind of like the Macintosh Preference Folder. It stores “preferences” for your operating system, for your hardware, and for practically any program you install on your computer. So the registry is important.
Now remember, every time you install a program on your computer, the preferences for that program are added to the registry. If you decide later to uninstall the software, what happened to all the stuff that was added to the registry? Well, if it was a well-written program, the registry entries are all deleted when you uninstall.
But not all programs are that well written. Some programs – probably many programs, do not clean themselves up when you uninstall them and all those registry preferences stay floundering around in the registry. So, if you do a lot of installing and uninstalling of software, you are likely to have a bloated registry that will slow down you computer intolerably.
That may be enough to think twice about whether you really want to take a chance and install that software on you computer. On the other hand, if you don’t take that chance, you may miss out on a lot of great software.
If you have a relatively new computer, your registry probably isn’t bloated. You have not added and removed a lot of software yet. If you have an older computer – say more than 2 or 3 years old, then you may have a bloated registry. Over the years, you probably have installed and uninstalled a lot of programs.
What should you do if you feel you have a bloated registry? Well, you can manually edit your registry and delete all the outdated an obsolete preferences.. But that is not for the faint of heart. If you mess with your registry, you may not be able to startup you computer. Which means, you may need to reinstall your operating system – or at the least, repair it.
There is a number one rule for those who want to mess with their registry and manually edit it. Make a backup of the registry. If something goes wrong, you can always restore the backup. In fact, you probably want to back up your entire hard drive. There is a special way to edit the registry – but I’m not getting into that. You can do a Google search, “How to edit the registry.” You will get plenty of help on how to it
On the other hand, there are some neat tools that can help you clean up the registry without having to get a PhD in computer science. You can use a Registry Cleaner. A registry cleaning program can search through your registry and find items that are no long needed and, in fact, should be deleted from your computer.
These registry cleaners are reliable and easy to operate. And you won’t mess anything up. Ok – my disclaimer – you should still back up your registry just in case something does go wrong.
There are many good registry cleaners. And there are even some good free ones. I will tell you about 2 registry cleaners to check out. One is freeware and one is commercial. The commercial one is called jv16 PowerTools 2006. You can read about it here and cough up around 30 bucks if you want to buy it. (Read the testimonial on the left side – pretty interesting).
The freeware registry cleaner is called EasyCleaner. This is a great program – now as many bells and whistles as the commercial one, but does quite a good job at helping to restore your computer to a “like new” condition. I’ve tried this one and was very happy with its performance. You can read about it here:
One last thing – If you have an older slower computer, then you may want to get into this. If you have a new computer – don’t get into it just yet – wait a couple years before you start to worry about “registry bloat.” Want to learn more about the registry - a good place to start is with the Wikipedia article – here:
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