Best Free Registry Cleaner

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.

This ever-present risk of problems is why the "Best Registry Cleaner" is the one that causes the fewest problems, rather than the one that finds the greatest number of registry issues. Although none of the registry cleaners I recommend here have caused me a problem I have not elected to have an Editor's Choice in this category because I consider that all the registry cleaners fail to provide clear guidance to make registry cleaning a well-informed choice. None of the products properly explain what they are suggesting should be removed and none clearly indicate the risks of such cleaning.

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Windows users do not usually need to use a registry cleaner

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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.

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

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Features that should be in a registry cleaner

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In a Hurry?

Go to details...  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide

Related Products and Links

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

 

Discussion
 

Registry cleaner as part of a system cleaning suite

CCleaner scanning the registryCCleaner is widely recommended for cleaning your Windows system and provides several ways to improve the performance of your PC. CCleaner is also very light-handed so it suits most users who are not confident with removing registry records.

This is the only registry cleaner that I use although sometimes I wish it would be more aggressive in finding and removing unneeded records. So if you are a more advanced user and you want more cleaning options then choose one of the stand-alone products below.

 

Stand-alone registry cleaner

Wise Registry Cleaner scanningWise Registry Cleaner was the old Editor's Choice but like the other cleaners would need to improve its guidance to earn that award now. It is well-documented with a manual on the website, it is very regularly updated, it works with the 64-bit registry records, and it has companion products for other aspects of cleaning. You can select the level of risk and complexity in the scans as well as choosing which categories of error are searched. It can also be automated and has scheduling built-in. Any changes are automatically backed up before the issues are removed. The backup options also allow you to create a System Restore point or full backup.

There is one problem with the scanning interface: the scan button turns into the cleaning button after each scan. They should have been two separate buttons so you don't mistakenly delete Registry records. If you do want to rescan then you need to select the rescan link to the left of the button.

PowerTools LitePowerTools Lite has a paid big brother, jv16 PowerTools, from which comes the registry cleaner, backup options, and strangely enough a web blocking list for your hosts file. The cleaner has the most descriptive information on each error but you'll probably find it still isn't clear enough for you unless you are an advanced user. The best part of it is that you can choose your level of risk at four levels from low to high. Initially set it to low and only consider raising it if you have no problems. The higher the risk then the higher the complexity and the longer scans will take but the extra wait is not too long.

PowerTools Lite has a wide range of settings as shown in the image. It also has a command-line option so it can be scheduled to run automatically and it works with the 64-bit Registry. Later in 2014, jv16 PowerTools will become Open Source allowing you to upgrade to a fully-featured system cleaner at some point.

 

Open Source registry cleaner

Little Registry CleanerLittle Registry Cleaner is only exceptional in being Open Source. You can check exactly how it works. In terms of speed and features it is like the majority of registry cleaners: easy to scan but not so easy to know if you're deleting the right records. It has the usual obscure descriptions of issues and little guidance on the relative risks of any changes.

 

Registry cleaners for older versions of Windows

Cleanersoft Free Registry FixEusing Free Registry CleanerIf you use Windows ME, 98 or 95 then there are many options including obsolete programs that have not been updated for years. Two programs that will work with Windows versions from 95 to 8 are Eusing Free Registry Cleaner and Cleanersoft Free Registry Fix. These applications look like they may be related because they are so similar in appearance, features, and operation. Two obvious difference are visible in the images: Eusing has a task sub-menu and displays the key before the data value.

 
Quick Selection Guide

Wise Registry Cleaner Free
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Multilanguage; 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.
8.21
2.02 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows XP to Windows 8
CCleaner
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Less risky than other cleaners; has other system cleaning functions; multi-language.
Remember to uncheck Google Chrome and IE Toolbar during install.
https://www.piriform.com/ccleaner
4.15
4.6 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows XP to Windows 8
PowerTools Lite
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Best descriptions of errors found in scan; select level of risk that is acceptable before scan; command-line parameters.
2.1
7.2 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 2000 to Windows 8
Eusing Free Registry Cleaner
3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
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.
3.5
960 KB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 95 to Windows 8
Cleanersoft Free Registry Fix
3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Compatible with older versions of Windows;
2.1
731 KB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 95 to Windows 8
Little Registry Cleaner
3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Open Source; Multi-language
1.6
5.35 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Open source freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows XP to Windows 8

Editor

This category is maintained by volunteer editor Remah. Registered members can contact the editor with comments or suggestions by clicking here.

Tags

Windows registry cleaner, best registry cleaner, free registry cleaner

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Comments

by MidnightCowboy on 8. November 2010 - 17:21  (60886)

I think it's important to differentiate here between "poor" and "conservative". CCleaner is designed to adopt a non aggressive approach which is why for folks without an in depth knowledge of Windows it's the safest to use.

In the days when I was connected with servicing customers we saw more systems trashed completely by the misguided use of these tools than malware or anything else. At that time RegSeeker was the favourite destroyer but a quick browse of the various forums will also attribute similar circumstances to Comodo and others.

The fact is that you can have 1,000's of redundant entries in your registry and never be able to measure any effect on system performance. Of course the vendors will have you believe differently because system for system it's impossible to prove and they want to sell you an upgrade to the "pro" version:) Conversely, take out just one wrong one and everything can stop working.

My advice would be this. Scan with whatever program you choose but if you can't say with certainty which entires are safe to delete then cancel it and use CCleaner :)

by zach (not verified) on 8. November 2010 - 15:57  (60884)

Oh yeah, all were the latest free versions.

by Bjoern (not verified) on 21. October 2010 - 3:40  (59821)

be aware that Wise Registry cleaner most likely will wreck your Lotus Notes. Did it for me on two machines but after system restore all was luckily back to normal. Seems not to be compatible with Notes (as so many other cleanup programs)

by Tom Wolff (not verified) on 14. October 2010 - 23:14  (59548)

Ran Windows Live OneCare Scanner--not paid, reason I had trouble before was two-fold, needed to allow scripts in IE8 security settings, and needed to turn off notifications in User Control settings (temporarily). Reg scanner portion found over 500 errors and cleaned all but 154. Tried installing Wise program and Windows 7-64 wouldn't let me install it--claimed not compatible, even though site says for Win 7 32 & 64, latest version 10-14.
Anyone?

by laolitan on 25. October 2010 - 12:06  (60133)

Latest version of Wise Registry Cleaner Free is 5.83 not 10-14.

http://www.wisecleaner.com/wiseregistrycleanerfree.html

You're blue screen problems may have nothing to do with the registry at all, so it might be an idea to undo any changes made by One Care, and then decribe all your issues on a help forum.

This one isn't bad....

http://forums.computeractive.co.uk/

At this time, the use of Registry cleaners is frowned upon in most tech circles. The potential to cause damage is seen to outweigh the chance of a slight increase in speed.
On the other hand, some of us believe that the occasional use of a cleaner has its benefits.
It is however, vital that any changes can be undone if disaster strikes!
Windows7 users can make a "System Image" before cleaning, and there are free 3rd party tools for older versions of Windows.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-drive-imaging-program.htm

by Tom Wolff (not verified) on 14. October 2010 - 18:21  (59533)

What is Microsoft's product or offering in this area and how does it do vs. recommended two cleaners? Is it built-in to Win 7, or is it their Live OneCare scanner that seems to require a (paid?) subscription to Win Essentials? Any education on this would be appreciated.

FWIW--I am running Win 7-64 Ultimate on two machines and haven't cleaned the registry on either yet. I do get the occaisional blue screen error and many IE8 errors, but doubt that they are or were due to registry crud; however, who knows?

by Bernard (not verified) on 9. October 2010 - 15:45  (59312)

Why isn't Auslogics Free Registry Cleaner 2.0.4.45 in the top free reg cleaners?

by Jason H. (not verified) on 2. October 2010 - 19:52  (58920)

Is there a program that you are aware that can fix registry problems from bootup without the xp repair cd or without a restore point?

by clickbank (not verified) on 29. September 2010 - 21:49  (58672)

Cleaning registry sucks because there so many scam companys out there you dont know who to trust.

by GreenArrow (not verified) on 2. October 2010 - 19:20  (58918)

You are right that it's a common utility -- just like screensavers -- used for malware distribution.

But you can usually tell the good ones by uploading the installer to a multi-engine scanner (VirusTotal/Jotti), scanning locally (Prevx, Avira/Avast/etc., Comodo), and looking at site ratings (WOT, HostMan Restrictions, ClearCloud). Also, SoftPedia and other popular download sites (CNET, FileHippo, MajorGeeks, etc.) test their downloads for malware.

The ones listed in the review above are clean.

by Adrian7 (not verified) on 14. September 2010 - 19:45  (57840)

I'm not sure if this has anything to do with anything, but I used Ccleaner and just removed everything i could and it removed about 15gig of crap, is that normal?

by GreenArrow (not verified) on 14. September 2010 - 20:11  (57841)

It is under a couple circumstances: For those who never empty their recycling bin, and those who rarely use a cleaner. CCleaner is actually somewhat limited in what it finds; for example, additional files are usually found with Microsoft's built-in cleaner and, say, the cleaner in Revo Uninstaller.

by xsallin (not verified) on 11. September 2010 - 11:01  (57641)

Did this in a hurry and I see some mistakes as English is not my native language and using firefox dictionary as a correcting tool can lead to acronyms or poor interpretation. :)

... not smart enough to clean "all (not any)" garbage from registry.

....leftovers from software "removed (not removers - as in the uninstaller)" (even with Revo Uninstaller) many months ago... so I end up cleaning it "MOSTLY FOR ESTHETICS", cause obviously few software remains can't affect the system in any way.

And so on, you get the message - just follow the recommendation for "REAL RESULTS". Point "2" from my last post surprised many in terms of "how effective it can be" yet very few people are aware of that.

by xsallin (not verified) on 11. September 2010 - 9:54  (57637)

The differences are minor, mostly psychological as in "Placebo effect". It's true - garbage still remains after software uninstall and Revo Uninstaller helps some times, but I didn't find any registry cleaner capable of cleaning that part and "that's cause they're passive tools" and usually work by a set of predefined settings, they're not smart enough to clean any garbage from registry.

On the other hand, an active registry manager, one that could monitor all changes - well, in theory that could do the job... But the things is, a tool like that would prove to be more hassle than the registry garbage which doesn't really affect system performance. As far as I'm concern, a general cleaner like CCleaner should be more than enough.

Yet I have to admit - back in the old days they really fooled me with this... :) and since there was no registry cleaner capable of cleaning all junk, "I learned to do that manually". On rare occasions I still do some manual cleaning, yet now it's easier to do with RegScanner - BUT KEEP THIS IN MIND "IT DIDN'T HELP ME IN ANY WAY AND DEFINITELY DOESN'T IMPROVE PERFORMANCE" - I end up doing this accidentally, when going in to registry to tweak a s soft and find some leftovers from software removers (even with Revo Uninstaller) many months ago... so I end up cleaning it "MOSTLY FOR ESTHETICS", cause obviously

Then what those help, you might ask...

1.Making Windows partition large enough so there's always enough free space on it... and "by enough" I don't mean 10 or 100 mb, more like 10 GB. Keeping a tool like CCleaner around can always be handy. ;)

2.At about 4 months clean the "Leftovers from deleted files" - same files you could partially recover from an "accidental delete" - yet mostly it's intentional and involves plenty of extra junk. you could use "Eraser 6.07" for that (it's a free open source tool)... But this takes some time - yet the results are visible, somehow similar with those from a defragmentation.

3.And since I mentioned about defragmentation, that helps to - auslogic disk defrag is pretty good at this and also capable of optimizing your disk space.

4.Keep your system Virus/Spyware/Add-aware/Trojan free.

When it comes to Windows, the above points should keep it running smooth as it did in the 1'st day after installation.

by MidnightCowboy on 11. September 2010 - 10:16  (57638)

You make some very good points. This PC sees a massive amount of traffic in and out, CCleaner is all I ever use and I'm not growing old waiting for stuff to open :)

by DarkVision (not verified) on 18. August 2010 - 21:05  (56324)

Any recommendation for Little Registry Cleaner?

by laolitan on 19. August 2010 - 9:38  (56342)

I've had a look at "Little Registry Cleaner".
The test PC was quite clean at the time, so it only picked up a few empty keys. Most (if not all) would have been recreated at the next reboot if removed.
I'll be loading another image in the not too distant future (one that contains a number of leftovers etc)and will then compare it to WRC Free.

LRC is open source, for this reason it deserves a mention IMO(subject to testing)!

by alerossi82 (not verified) on 14. August 2010 - 15:23  (56003)

When using the Internet, sometimes my laptop (Fujitsu/Siemes Amilo Pi 2540)freezes and the following error message shows up on a blue screen:

Hardware Malfunction
Call Your Hardware Vendor for Support
NMI Parity Check / Memory Parity Error
The System Is Halted

I run a system diagnostics using different softwares but everything seems to be ok.

What kind of problem could it be? Do you think the Wise Registry Cleaner Free can help me, or you have better software to recommend me?

by MidnightCowboy on 14. August 2010 - 16:19  (56010)

Download this ISO, burn it to a disk and then boot with it to run the test.

http://www.memtest.org/

I had a problem recently where no AV would install (or an existing one update) and some other programs refused to launch. Also freezing during surfing. Turned out one of my two memory cards had developed a fault. With a laptop it might not be possible to replace the memory yourself, but it will at least tell you if the fault is there.

by Anupam on 14. August 2010 - 15:43  (56006)

The error indicates that one of the memory modules, that is, the RAM is defective. You will have to replace it. I will suggest that you take it to a repair shop where some qualified personnel can look at it, and replace the faulty module.

by Kalane (not verified) on 8. August 2010 - 18:49  (55642)

I'm having loads of errors to the point of my system not being able to open any files except through steam, I just want a basic fix, not performance enhancement, anyone have any recommendations/know if wise is what I need?

by Joeqaz741 (not verified) on 11. August 2010 - 4:31  (55774)

I have been using many differen't programs throughout the last 7 years.

Your problem could be that your Hard-drive is Failing, or a simple thing like a bad virus. This registry cleaner is not the answer to your problem.

If your Hard-drive is failing you'll here that it makes a weird noise, such as a "clunk", or a "ding", anything from the normal "spinning" sound can point towards a hard drive failure.

Lets hope that its just a virus. I would recommend downloading the programs that i have listed below.

Microsoft Security Essentials (Anti-Virus, The best, Free)
MalwareBytes Anti-Malware (Very good On-Demand Malware Scanner, Free)

Download Links:
MSE--> http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials/
MBAM--> http://www.malwarebytes.org/mbam.php

I really hope this helps

-Joeqaz741

by laolitan on 8. August 2010 - 20:25  (55651)

A Reg cleaner (Wise for example) may help with some/all of your problems, but nothing is ever guarenteed!
Have you performed the usual system maintainance tasks (temp file cleaning, defrag etc) ?
Are all your files backed up? If the answer is "Yes" and you have the means to reinstall your OS, it could be worth a try (Reg cleaning can make matters worse tho!)
Malware can also cause the types of problem you describe.

by rfrees (not verified) on 3. August 2010 - 13:51  (55387)

Wise Registry Cleaner version 5.51 has now been released

by laolitan on 3. August 2010 - 23:14  (55411)

Thanks, I'm also going to change the picture for one with the new UI.
I see that "Clean with 1 click" is now optional (a step in the right direction IMO!)

by Mesen (not verified) on 20. July 2010 - 11:55  (54576)

One of the best...
http://www.vitsoft.org.ua/Eng/vit-registry-fix-free.htm

by wig (not verified) on 14. July 2010 - 18:42  (54285)

Is Easy Cleaner too old, and should I replace it. Win XP

by Anonymous64 (not verified) on 19. July 2010 - 8:23  (54501)

Old enough to ditch it.

by WizWaz on 4. July 2010 - 0:26  (53709)

Be very careful with registry cleaners/defrag.Its not necessary to use them at all.

by PHOENIX RIZING on 8. August 2010 - 6:30  (55614)

Re WizWaz's 07/04/10 comment:

OS: Windows XP Pro for many years; currently maintain 4-5 computers running XP Pro.

It is true that it is not necessary on a frequent basis. Most people I know do not do it at all themselves.

If you feel you must do it: back up your system and make a copy of the registry.

The PCs that I maintain do run better after a "tune-up."

It is not a job for a novice; better to pay someone or ask a knowledgeable friend.

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