If you’re like me, you’ve probably downloaded, installed, and removed hundreds of freeware or shareware applications. Recently, I went through that exercise when looking for a good video converter for my Zune. So after uninstalling most of them, I had to go through my Start Menu and remove all the dead shortcut links. I also sorted through the “C:\Program Files” folder on my PC and removed all the left over files from the uninstall procedures. So was my system totally cleaned up now? No, not yet.
Your PC’s Registry File contains settings for all the software that you’ve installed on your system, and in most cases those settings are not removed when you uninstall applications. I knew I probably had hundreds of defunct entries in my Registry File, so it would be a good thing to clean it up to improve my system’s overall performance.
If you do a Google search you’ll find lots of Registry File Cleaners (some freeware some shareware). I use the following set of applications after a massive uninstalling session:
- CCleaner – Cleans out temp files, old registry entries, etc. (Freeware)
- RegScrubXP -Scrubs the Registry File to remove obsolete DLL links, old shortcuts, etc. (Freeware)
- RegistryRepairPro -Also removes old DLL and shortcut links and can defrag the registry file (Shareware)
So, I use all three applications on my Windows XP laptop machine, and I haven’t had any issues with system problems. If you’ve never used these tools before, you should run them several times as you’ll see lots of registry entries that are old or obsolete. Note that with CCleaner, I recommend you just do the “Cleaner” and “Registry” options. Don’t do any of the other advanced features unless you really know what you’re doing. Also, you might want to create a System Restore Point the first time you do this just in case your Registry file gets corrupted during the clean up operation. I’ve never had an issue with my laptop, but it’s safe to take some precautions when doing this for the first time.
Now for my Desktop Vista OS machine, I only run the CCleaner application (since the other two are not Vista-tested). I also have a program on my Vista machine called AUSLogics Registry Defrag (that came with my motherboard software) that I use to defrag my registry file. So with those two applications, I can keep my Vista machine’s Registry File uncluttered and working efficiently.
Note, that messing with your PC’s Registry File is serious business, as you don’t want to corrupt it. So, if you faint hearted or don’t want to potentially create problems, just leave it alone and do your business as usual!