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    Are system/Registry cleaners worthwhile?




    TOP STORY

    Are system/Registry cleaners worthwhile?


    By Fred Langa

    As Windows and third-party software have evolved over the years, Windows Secrets has periodically put various Registry- and system-cleanup products through their paces to examine the claims made by and about them. For example, most cleanup software claims to streamline and shrink the Registry by removing obsolete, erroneous data and broken links stored there. Other products claim to do more, such as removing junk files, reducing boot times, and improving overall system performance.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/are-systemregistry-cleaners-worthwhile (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

  2. #2
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    I've actually stopped using stand-a-lone registry cleaners since Win7.

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    Two points:
    1. I like CCleaner as my preferred tool and I consider it a successful registry cleaner, but I'm always cautious about the download site as some download sites include malware. I'm also very cautious to use CCleaner very infrequently.
    2. Typically I use Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware to clear out malware and I then make sure that the anti-virus product is up-to-date. Then I obtain all the software patches that are needed. (Adobe, Java, Windows, etc.) Then a Windows restart. Next I use the Windows utilities Disk Cleanup and then Disk Defragmenter and another a Windows restart. After the computer comes up again watching its startup performance, I always use CCleaner last because I want the computer as healthy as I can get it using the other software already installed and previously used. This way the truly unneeded registry entries can be more easily found and removed. A final restart after that does it--mostly to see if CCleaner broke something though CCleaner normally plays nice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kathleen Atkins View Post



    TOP STORY

    Are system/Registry cleaners worthwhile?


    By Fred Langa

    As Windows and third-party software have evolved over the years, Windows Secrets has periodically put various Registry- and system-cleanup products through their paces to examine the claims made by and about them. For example, most cleanup software claims to streamline and shrink the Registry by removing obsolete, erroneous data and broken links stored there. Other products claim to do more, such as removing junk files, reducing boot times, and improving overall system performance.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/are-systemregistry-cleaners-worthwhile (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.
    Hello,
    I have always been anal about defragging/optimizing my drives. Now not so much as I use an SSD. A tool I have found useful, although I have never tested it in the mode you have tested CCleaner, was Puran Utilities., There are separate choices for each utility to run or you can use the wizard.

    Cheers!

  5. #5
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    Great Article

    Great article... thank you ... I occasionally use CC Cleaner, seems (as you noted) the least wrongly intrusive... I use it mostly for cleanup of 'files left over' and do not always or often run the registry cleaner. I do all my "installs" using Revo - kind of keeps track.
    Thanks again!

  6. #6
    Star Lounger beachboybogart's Avatar
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    As a PC repair technician, I've been railing against cleaners for years. I appreciate the hard work that went into this study, Fred. I do believe the system scans fraudulently report registry errors, because there is no way a fresh system could show 263 errors. Two PC mags in recent years did similar studies on new machines that did NOT have any software added beyond the Windows install, and had not been connected to the Internet... and CCleaner and others show over 300 registry errors right from the get-go.

    ASIDE from that: the real problem comes after many months of use. As you point out, Fred, Windows system files get more and more scrambled as time goes on. The REAL difficulty with these cleaners is that they can no longer recognize which lines of code are valid. The reason: many, many software teams take liberties with Windows library code, making minor changes to suit their own software. Cleaners then immediately must assume that the code is not valid, compared to their internal database, and recommend "cleaning" it. Then, other pieces of software have to fight to keep the same code working for themselves. And it becomes a never-ending cycle.

    So when a cleaning tool removes the "offending mistakes", it is automatically crippling small portions of the system files. You will not notice this as major problems, but you may discover oddities: desktop icons lose their graphic; Word won't underline anymore; you need to click three times on an executable to get it to start; your keyboard typing always lags... and so on.

    I recommend to all my customers that current versions of Windows, again as you point out, Fred, pretty much take care of themselves, and that an Uninstaller program is their best bet for keeping things clean. I've seen so many systems that were battered and faulty after using cleaners, especially CCLeaner (it appears to be the most well-known among the average email users).

  7. #7
    Star Lounger Techie's Avatar
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    Could you also post the results of the startup times after running the registry cleaners, and then uninstalling the registry cleaners, so registry cleaner slowdown time wouldn't be included in the comparison?
    Peter
    Support for a large nonprofit
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    Forgive my lack of rigour in describing this; it was quite a while ago that I installed and ran jv16 PowerTools X on an up to date Windows 7 installation. I went to one button I don't recall to speed my machine up, and without confirmation it was removing start up programs like WinPrivacy. I stopped it right away, but it had also been busy uninstalling my Cyberlink software. I mentioned this to their help line, and got a reply that didn't seem to alarmed by this behaviour (I suspect a language problem). I uninstalled it, repaired the damage, and will never touch it again. I do use CCleaner regularly, and have been quite happy with it for years.

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    jvPowerTools: the saga of the vanishing millionaire

    Have to say, I'm surprised and not a little disappointed to find Windows Secrets -- usually so authoritative and well-informed -- slipping up so badly here. Isn't anyone at WS aware of what has actually gone on at Macecraft, the one-man business set up by jvPowerTools founder Jouni Vouri to sell his product once he'd decided it would no longer be freeware?

    Not a single investigative journalist among anyone within Windows Secrets who might have wondered where almost $41,000 of crowd-funding money went in the Spring of 2014, followed not long after by the departure of Mr Flemming (having earlier changed his name from Vouni) to the Far East, there to describe himself as "online business tycoon, expatriate and internationalist capitalist" and now a lecturer in how to succeed in business without really trying.

    Yeah. Right. The smell that arose over Flemming's "failed" crowd funding exercise (he said he was going to release the jvPowerTools code for nothing, or, well, after he'd hit his crowd funding target) won't go away. Even if Mr Flemming most certainly has.

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    Star Lounger beachboybogart's Avatar
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    The business morals, or lack thereof, of any given company don't reflect the testing standards or results... unless you suspect that a bad man makes bad software.

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    Windows - the most complicated software ecosystem ever devised.

    Quote Originally Posted by beachboybogart View Post
    The business morals, or lack thereof, of any given company don't reflect the testing standards or results... unless you suspect that a bad man makes bad software.
    It's not that any of these companies are necessarily bad. Programmers are not well trained, they write code with guns held to their heads by marketing, and Windows remains the most complicated software ecosystem ever devised. With Windows's ever-shifting software APIs, it is a wonder that the software works at all. And now we want it to use system resources effectively? Not in my lifetime! The only way to insulate against Windows code bloat and often grindingly slow execution is to keep improving processor performance and adding system memory.

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    Mentioned briefly in the original article is the fact that these registry cleaners can actually damage systems. I used jvPowerTools for many years, mostly on XP systems and some on a Win7 system (I paid for a license each time the software was updated). When the product was updated for Win8 I gave it a try on my home Win8/64 system and it screwed things up so badly that the system would no longer boot completely. Contacting their support area yielded nothing helpful (basically, they said they didn't know what had happened and recommended restoring the system). I can't remember the details now, but I was finally able to get this fixed - apparently, jvPowerTools had made changes, but the repair had not completed. After playing with the system for several days, I saw a message about jvPowerTools needing to run - let it run - and I was back to a normal system. I removed the product. I now use CCleaner occasionally, and have had no problem with that software.

    So, as demonstrated in Fred's article, these products don't really help. They can also (seriously) damage your system. They provide very poor technical support (even for registered, paying customers) in case of problems.

    Stay away from this product!

    David

  13. #13
    Star Lounger beachboybogart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by benmyers View Post
    It's not that any of these companies are necessarily bad. Programmers are not well trained, they write code with guns held to their heads by marketing, and Windows remains the most complicated software ecosystem ever devised. With Windows's ever-shifting software APIs, it is a wonder that the software works at all. And now we want it to use system resources effectively? Not in my lifetime! The only way to insulate against Windows code bloat and often grindingly slow execution is to keep improving processor performance and adding system memory.
    Could not agree more. Was with several software development teams as documentation, and fought constantly for user interface improvements. 99% of the time was shot down due to "time and budget" constraints. And then would watch as whole chunks of the software were removed, in order to meet the "deadline" for gold. Can't imagine what shortcuts were taken with the library code.

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    Thumbs up CCleaner vindicated and a manual cleanup tip

    This vindicates my long-time use of CCleaner as the go-to cleanup tool. Yes, there is less to clean up with Windows 7/8. OMG, Microsoft was even embarrassed into adding Windows update cleanup to its Disk Cleanup tool.

    One more cleanup tip, a manual one. Open up an Explorer window to the %temp% folder. Now delete everything except the Low folder. Skip over any files that can't be deleted. Depending on the programs run, there may be either hundreds of entries or gigabytes of junk buried in all the folders to be deleted. And, if you want to be hyper-aggressive in cleanup, do the same to C:\Windows\Temp .

    These temp folders are the modern software equivalent of a sewer. Programmers are instructed to use the innocuous %temp% for all temporary file use. So everybody does. And, like little children, they never clean up after themselves. Microsoft and Adobe products seem to be the worst offenders here in my experience. But there are others, too.

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    I'd love to have seen the results of the freshly tried cleaners on the system BEFORE uninstalling the software via control panel.

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