Best Free Registry Cleaner

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Introduction

There is a lot of controversy over how well Windows registry cleaners work. The makers claim their programs remove unneeded settings from the registry and some claim to remove "errors" that could potentially cause problems. While some people swear by them, others blame registry cleaners for their Windows system becoming unrecoverable. If you use a registry cleaner that causes a problem you should be prepared to restore from a backup or to reinstall Windows.

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Read also Do you need a registry clearer? at the end of this page.

 

Rated Products

CCleaner  

A registry cleaner as part of a system cleaning suite


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free (Limited features)
Less risky than other cleaners; has other system cleaning functions; multi-language.
Remember to uncheck Google Chrome and IE Toolbar during install.
Read full review...

Wise Registry Cleaner  

Scans for errors and residual items in the Windows registry


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free
Multi-language; settings for scan category and level; automatic backup of changes with option to create System Restore point; command-line parameters; scheduling.
Scan button becomes the Clean button so be careful if wanting to rescan.
Read full review...

Little Registry Cleaner  

Like the majority of registry cleaners In terms of speed and features


Our Rating: 
3
License: Free (Open source)
Open Source; Multi-language.
Obscure descriptions of issues, little guidance.
Read full review...

Eusing Free Registry Cleaner  

Clean and repair registry problems in more versions of Windows


Our Rating: 
3
License: Free
Compatible with older versions of Windows; Multi-language; Link to Windows Backup.
Insufficient descriptions of registry issues so may have to use RegEdit to check the keys and values.
Read full review...

Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles before selecting or using a registry cleaner:

 

Do You Need A Registry Cleaner?

Windows users do not usually need to use a registry cleaner

  • Each new version of Windows brings further improvements to the performance of the registry. The problems that registry cleaners may resolve become less significant for each new version of Windows.
  • Registry cleaners hardly make a dent in the registry size as most would not find even 1,000 entries to remove. That's a lot less than 1% change so don't expect a noticeable difference in performance.
  • They increase the risk of damaging the registry so that Windows will not work at all and you will have to restore your system from a backup or reinstall your system. 
  • A lot of advertisements for registry and system cleaners are malicious or useless programs. Make sure that you get a reputable program from a reputable download site.

If your Windows system is running slow then there other things you should try first

Each of the following actions can improve your systems performance ten to one hundred times more than registry cleaning.

  • Use a Windows system cleaner that removes temporary files and the like from your system. They can produce much greater improvements in performance.
  • Disable the loading of memory resident programs and services that run all the time. This frees up memory and processing power. System cleaners will usually have tools to help you to do this.
  • Uninstall unneeded programs. System cleaners will also have tools to help you to do this.
  • Add more memory (RAM) to your computer if it does not have enough.
  • Consider adding a second hard disk drive as can be used to improve performance.

If you do use a registry cleaner then always have good backups

It is absolutely essential that you backup your registry before using a registry cleaner. For most users the easiest way to do backup the registry is to create a system checkpoint.  An even better way is to use a drive-imaging program to create a snapshot of Windows, which you can use for system recovery if needed. As an added layer of protection consider using the excellent ERUNT utility which backs up and restores the registry files.

Features that should be in a registry cleaner

  • Backup and restore of changes. Most reputable products perform a backup automatically before scanning or making changes. Some like CCleaner prompt you and give you an option. CCleaner only saves the issues rather than the entire registry but some will do a full registry backup or a System Restore point.
  • More system cleaning options. Most registry cleaners are one part of a suite of cleaning tools in a system cleaner. CCleaner is an example of one program with a suite of functions whereas some are a suite of separate programs with a common menu. But if you want a stand-alone registry cleaner then we also recommend a couple of options.
  • The ability to select which categories of issues will be scanned. Some cleaners like PowerTools Lite also allow you to explicitly set your level of risk.
  • A review of suggested changes so you can confirm what will be done before anything is removed. Some registry cleaners like Wise Registry Cleaner and PowerTools Lite also provide you with a measure of the "severity" of each error. That will usually do as a measure of the risk if you get it wrong.
  • Meaningful descriptions of the issues so you can exercise an informed right of veto. However, this is the most serious weakness of registry cleaners: they just don't make it easy to know how risky any changes are. Some programs provide links to more information but they don't usually put it all in plain English.
  • The ability to jump into RegEdit. If you're into registry cleaning then you're unlikely to be put off by the additional risk of damaging the registry yourself. The opportunity to see the actual registry entry at issue is particularly useful to advanced users.
  • An option to export Registry errors allows you to more easily document what you've done, keep a copy of what you've removed or compare two different cleaners.

One feature that is not on my list is defragmenting the registry. It sounds like defragmenting files on a disk drive but doesn't provide the same benefit. The registry properly exists only when it is assembled in memory because some parts are never saved to disk, they are always volatile. This means that there is no direct relationship between organization of the registry hive files on disk and the performance of the registry hives in memory.

 

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Comments

"Do registry cleaners give me any performance advantage??? The answer is NO... you read correctly, NO. Unless you got infected with a virus and it wasn't cleaned-up correctly or a program wasn't uninstalled correctly where the registry cleaner can be useful there isn't any benefit in cleaning the registry."

"I personally have used registry cleaners when I need to remove failed uninstalls or have been infected and had a "not so clean" virus removal but that's about it."

jorgeem1717

So you used registry cleaners to remove failed uninstalls or not-so-clean virus removal registry entries. If those entries didn't cause you any performance disadvantages, then why did you remove them? You could just let them pile up in your registry, right?

since w9xx days i have used regcleaners like Microsofts Regclean,later toni arts Easycleaner:
http://personal.inet.fi/business/toniarts/ecleane.htm
and also ccleaner.Wise cleaner have i also tested
for a short time,but it was not that good.
But for all users who do not permanet install Programs,or new hardware drivers,Easycleaner&Ccleaner are sufficient.
It`s not bad to run them in Sequenz,this improves the number of
invalid Reg entry founds.

[Moderator's note: All content related to commercial software edited out. Not allowed.]

Personally I like Auslogics Registry Cleaner - it creates a backup of removed registry items and lets you delete old restore points - never had an issue with it

This update of free Registry Cleaners (RC) is a complete rewrite apart from one sentence. The previous recommendations of Wise RC and Eusing Free RC are still included but there are now four sub-categories with further products recommended: RC in a Suite, Stand-alone RC, Open Source, and RC for older versions of Windows. Remah - Category editor.
Excellent article intro and re-write. Windows registry has always been kinda vague concept to me, and I believe you've written a stand-alone article about the Windows registry in the past (which was under moderation I think). Could you please post the link to it in this article?
Thanks. I'm reworking a couple of those draft articles at the moment so I'll post links when they're completed.

I do use Wise Registry Cleaner and have been for over a year. It's a very controversial topic if registry cleaners really provide any performance boost or do they simply remove registry errors. Do registry cleaners give me any performance advantage??? The answer is NO... you read correctly, NO. Unless you got infected with a virus and it wasn't cleaned-up correctly or a program wasn't uninstalled correctly where the registry cleaner can be useful there isn't any benefit in cleaning the registry. I would have to say that, unless you where infected and PC wasn't cleaned out correctly or an uninstall program failure, there really isn't a need to use a registry cleaner. To clean out the registry will give you a smaller registry but that, in itself, doesn't give you any performance advantage. The registry is just data-base so no need to remove anything. The only time corrections need to be made is when external programs force ill-advised changes. If you want to read a review on this subject in detail go to http://pcsupport.about.com/od/registry-cleaner/a/registry-cleaner-faq.htm and get a glimpse at what Tim Fisher from "About.com PC Support" has to say. You can also read what Microsoft has to say about cleaning your registry and if they provide a cleaning tool, just go HERE >>> http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_xp-networking/d... and see the article. I personally have used registry cleaners when I need to remove failed uninstalls or have been infected and had a "not so clean" virus removal but that's about it. When I have had to use a cleaner I use either CCleaner or Wise Registry Cleaner which have been proven to be very safe. One other thing, ALWAYS BACK-UP YOUR FILES... you never know would could happen even if you think you know what you are doing. Accidents do happen so always back-up.....

Most of the "experts" have never bothered to test the benefits of registry cleaning. "Do registry cleaners give me any performance advantage???" Yes, but it's likely to be very small and there are better ways to improve the performance of your system. See Do we really need Windows registry cleaners?

I'd just like to say thanks for recommending Wise Registry Cleaner Free, as I have ran the tools provided with this software and have notice a dramatic increase in the speed in which my Windows 7 laptop starts up.

If anyone has slow start-up speeds, I'd recommend you to take full advantage of the tools in the Wise Registry Cleaner Free software before considering anything else.

Thanks again,
David.

Wise registry cleaner number one.

The first time I use it I lose the file association with quite important things like control panel. WHat an absolute pile of garbage, the only registry cleaner with which I have ever had a problem.

I came here yesterday (8th May, 2013) to find a registry cleaner and downloaded the Wise program. BIG mistake. This piece of junk installed 5 or 6 programs: VeeBee toolbar, Whitesmoke toolbar, Safety Search by Conduit, Default Tab and Solid Sales(?) toolbar. It took me forever to remove them AFTER I had just spent 4 hours on fixing this particular PC from similar rubbish that was installed by ANOTHER program a few weeks before.

As to the Wise registry program? Nowhere to be found! Yes, I clicked on the link as shown above and, yes, the program WAS the Wise Registry Cleaner.

I am not going to come here again if this is what is now happening with these programs.

Next time look closely when installing "any program"... you usually can opt-out of the other programs or tool-bars. This isn't unusual since many companies try to make it difficult to see the opt-out option. Don't forget that what you are downloading & installing is FREE and that any additional tool-bar or software installed is a monetary benefit for them. They are providing their software for free and they need to make a buck also.

I just followed the link above and no attempt was made to install anything other than Wise Registry Cleaner. There were no alerts from either my AV or WinPatrol, and nothing extra arrived in my program files or registry. MC - Site Manager. http://imageshack.us/a/img21/573/20130510003515.png