Registry Tools

Without redefining the Windows registry, this article addresses some of the available registry management tools: backup software, cleaners, editors, tweaks, and other system registry control software. Our first look centers upon the free registry tools that Microsoft has integrated into the Windows XP, Vista, and 7 operating systems. In step two, we address free and shareware third party registry tools. In finishing, we focus on commercial third party Windows registry maintenance packages. Before dipping into the depths of the matter, take a look at the inside layout of a Vista registry as opened and viewed through the Microsoft Regedit program (Fig. 1). This is the only inside detail that we will show.

Rather than assigning many links and instructions, the examples in this article uses a random selection of Windows operating systems. The reader is to apply the details as necessary to any specific Windows version.

Registry Support Direct from Microsoft.

All registry work begins by making a backup. In Windows XP, Microsoft offers two methods of registry backup:

· Guided Help download.
· Manual step by step backup and restore instructions. The manual instructions stand compatible with all current versions of Microsoft Windows.

The manual backup method mentions a registry restore software called “rstrui.exe”. Should there come a time that Windows will not boot into regular mode, you may need to run this program from Safe Mode with Command Prompt (Fig. 2). The steps are as follows:

1. Boot into Safe Mode with Command Prompt activated.
2. After logon, type “rstrui.exe”, less the quote marks, and then press “Enter”.
3. Safe Mode restores are not reversible.

For in-depth registry work, Microsoft offers an advanced registry editor tool called “regedit (reference back to Fig. 1). This tool permits active access and editing of the Windows registry. The registry is a vital Windows file. If you must make direct changes, please read up on the material at Windows Registry Information for Advanced Users.

As to Microsoft provided registry cleaners: there are none. This is a point of argument. Modern Operating Systems do not require registry cleanup. Left behind program data is said not to affect the Operating System’s performance. We will come back to this issue later.

One final point concerning Microsoft registry tools: look to the Microsoft Knowledge Base support site. This is an extensive database of instructions, questions, and answers.

Free and Shareware Registry Tools.

This is a collection of free and shareware Windows registry tools. We list them together, noting in each case which ones are “fully” free and which ones are merely “free to download”.

· CCleaner: this donation (Fig. 3) based system optimization cleaning tool removes unused files and flushes Internet history. The setup and operation of this program is as easy as it gets (Fig. 4).
· Registry Reviver: this limited trial version, produced by the makers of Ccleaner, incorporates a full-featured registry cleaner. Were it not for the association to Ccleaner, this package would be listed under commercial software.
· Advance System Care: Though a professional version of this software is available; this package, like Ccleaner, provides the most “free” for the claim.

Commercial Registry Tools.

· RegDefense.
· RegServ.
· RegCure.
· Registry Easy.
· Registry Fix.
· Advance System Care Pro.

I leave details out. Each product has a supporting web site.

Some Astonishing Revelations.

The criteria often used for evaluating a Windows registry cleaning and optimizing tool is based upon four points: Features, Ease of Use, Effectiveness, and Support. I do not go into detail on these goals. I do not believe that they really matter. As stated earlier, there is a contention that modern Operating Systems do not need a registry cleaner.

As an effort to pinpoint the truth of this matter, I provide the following statistics and figures. Though these numbers and screen captures illustrate the performed between two specific basic registry tool packages, the results are common throughout this market.

Start by examining a system scan by the trial version of RegistryFix (Fig. 5). Notice the points in red. Sixty-three problems available for removal; 685 total problems located. The next screen shot (Fig. 6) shows the remaining errors listed after a full scan and repair by the Professional version of System Care. Note also that the “before repair” report of System Care Pro revealed only 191 errors (screen capture not shown). Look now at the screen shot of a second scanning with RegistryFix (Fig. 7). Notice that the values in red have not changed from those in Figure 5.

This is not an attack against the RegistryFix software. The pattern is common between every registry tool that I tested. This is not evidence that such software is useless. Most registry tools include backup/restore features, a startup manager, windows program removal functions, and more. If they do no better than to compact the registry, there is value there. Should you ever have to go in by hand, the task will be easier. Many registry tools also come backed by a live support team. In the event of a system crash, support may prove sufficient to cover the cost of the registry tools package.

Meanwhile Consider Some Microsoft Supported Alternatives:

Though not registry specific, consider using Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool and Microsoft’s Windows Defender (included in Vista), both of which will protect and quicken system performance.