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 aqua on 18. August 2009 - 23:10  (31120)

hey got a question..is argente an agressive registry cleaner..
was trying jv16 powertools lite[free]..and it comes with 100% registry pc health.
while argente found 181 errors..also this doesn't defr4ag registry.

by Anupam on 19. August 2009 - 6:23  (31131)

You may have heard elsewhere, but saying it again... please stay away from Registry Cleaners. They can cause more trouble than they solve. The products listed here on this review are the safe ones. If you use other products, use at your own risk.

Anupam Shriwatri

by Anonymous on 22. August 2009 - 0:09  (31295)

Any software can cause problems, if it isn't good software.

As for registry cleaners, the guys who write the articles that say that they're bad and you don't need them, must be on glue, period! And no offense to anyone here, but me thinks you just forgot how fast your system used to run. :)

There are a lot of leftover garbage items in a registry when you uninstall software. And it is not because of Windows itself, although it is a bad design to have everything for a program in a central registry, instead of in the program's folder, via .INI/.CFG files. Rather, it is because Windows programmers are almost always sloppy and lazy.

Now if you're a programmer who writes Windows programs, I'm sure that offended you. But you have learned by what you have seen and been told. But if Windows programmers are not typically sloppy and lazy, then why are there so many leftover entries in the registry? And I don't mean user created stuff from using the program, although the uninstall routine should look for those too, but rather, I mean the basic keys and entries that the programs make when installed. Yet after uninstalling them, there they still sit, in the registry! I actually go through and manually delete them, before I run a cleaner, because even they don't get them all.

And no, it isn't from changes I made. I can install a program and then uninstall it and there the keys/entries sit!

And again, no offense, but no excuses guys! You know what you told it to make, so clean up guys!!!

So yes, these cleaners are necessary, because of the sloppiness and laziness of Windows programmers. And yes, there is a difference! I have run a few OS's and never did I see what I see from Windows programmers and their laziness!

Now you can go ahead and fire off at me if it makes you feel better, but the leftover entries are my witness and nothing anyone says will make them all suddenly disappear from everyone's machines.

I personally find (a pay program) to yes, actually do a decent job of cleaning up most of the garbage and yes, to make a system run faster, so that it is noticably quicker right after rebooting.

But for free programs, the one recommended here may be worth a try. Most of the free ones have been garbage, but free stuff is coming a long way and so, I'll take "Gizmo's" word for it. :)

Again, sorry if I offended anyone, but I'm just not the type to stay silent, just because someone might not like what they hear/read. The truth should be stated, so that things can get better. If everyone pretends all is well, then what changes?

Moderators comment:
Commercial software reference removed

by MidnightCowboy on 22. August 2009 - 2:13  (31299)

Dr. Mark Russinovich is a Technical Fellow working in the Platform and Services division at Microsoft. Russinovich is a widely recognized expert in Windows operating systems. This is what he has to say about registry cleaners.

"I haven’t and never will implement a Registry cleaner since it’s of little practical use on anything other than Win2K terminal servers and developing one that’s both safe and effective requires a huge amount of application-specific knowledge."

Will using Registry Cleaners speed-up my system and make it more reliable?

"It will have no effect on system speed. There is an excellent chance it will make your system less reliable."

I've been following these discussions for years and 95% of the people making other claims are either dreaming or promoting commercial software for their own ends.

by Anonymous on 2. May 2010 - 12:12  (48973)

@midnightcowboy
Dr M.Russinovich may be a GURU, but he is wrong about one thing anyway. I've been using Regseeker (freeware) for years. When I noticed my system is unusually slow to either start-up, or shut down, I give it a run, or even a double run, and it corrects the problem every time (Yes, I have used a stop watch on occasion and it can be as much as 30 seconds difference). Regseeker also cleans up a lot (not all) of the crap that purpose built uninstallers simply don't find, or do.

The best way to prove that something actually works is to try it. Make a partition and so you can run 2x operating systems. Keep one OS just for testing programs like reg cleaners so you can actually see what it can and can not do. This way there won't be tears if the tested software is a pile of poo.

by Anonymous on 22. August 2009 - 11:24  (31319)

I've read that more than once. It isn't true and with all due respect to Mark (he may be a very honest man who's just mistaken), I don't trust what anyone from Microsoft says. But then again, I don't trust any company who has a whole floor on a wing dedicated to their legal team. :)

I have personally installed and run registry repair utilities (maybe that's where this is coming in, cleaner vs repair) on systems that just would lock up and run very sluggishly, if hardly at all (after running the top spyware/malware cleaners and anti-virus on them) and they snapped to life! The problem was with some leftover DLL's that were still being called up, or in some erroneous keys, etc., etc.. Once I had run the utility, Windows was up and running again and in smooth fashion.

So you tell me; Did the util make a difference? :)

Yes, they can be dangerous in the wrong hands. But usually they are those that give some in depth stuff that most users will not understand. For example, JV16 is a great little util, but if you just keep clicking "Delete" instead of "Fix" first, you can damage your system severely.

So you decide. But I know what I've seen and I've been a tech (a real one) for almost 30 years ad I've taught the Windows OS's down to the core of each and I know how they work and how bad they are at keeping the resgisty in good working order (mostly due to programmers not cleaning up properly on uninstall, but also because it's just a bad design to have everything centrally located in a registry like that).

And I wonder if Mark would change his mind if Windows wouldn't run on his system and one of the utils brought it back to life. I mean, has he ever even tried it on a crashing system guys? :)

by MidnightCowboy on 22. August 2009 - 12:36  (31322)

This is now more true to life "cleaner vs repair" - and I acknowledge that in some circumstances this is needed. The problem is that 95% of the people using these tools do not know what they are trying to achieve, where to look for the solution and what to do with the resulting choices presented by their favorite tool. This is the area Mark was highlighting when he talked about the dangers involved.

by Anonymous on 23. August 2009 - 20:11  (31389)

I agree with you 100%! And I apologize for not making my statement more clear. Please forgive me for this obvious blunder of mine.

by MidnightCowboy on 23. August 2009 - 21:17  (31392)

No apologies needed - I'm not exactly crystal clear with some of my own stuff sometimes! Even if we end up in total disagreement this is what I like about TSA and being part of it. Please continue to contribute to our discussions - you are very welcome here.

by Anonymous on 21. October 2009 - 8:52  (35115)

If what Dr. Mark Russinovich is saying is true about registry cleaners, then why did the aforementioned guru of registry cleaners, "jv16", introduce "Reg Cleaner" (approx. 10 years ago--forerunner of jv16 Power Tools, Reg Supreme, and now also Power Tools Lite) to compete and knock-off Microsoft's own embedded "Reg Clean".

thank you

by MidnightCowboy on 21. October 2009 - 9:40  (35121)

Individuals and vendors introduce things all the time for a variety of reasons which are of little, no or dubious benefit. Every high street store is full of the stuff.

by Anonymous on 22. August 2009 - 0:13  (31296)

P.S.: The Windows program uninstall routines don't even clean up the folders off your system half the time (and no, I don't mean because the user added stuff in it) and they spread out data all over the place and leave that as well! Now what is up with THAT?! C'mon guys, no excuses! I'm not supposed to have to check four or five places every time I uninstall a program and yes, it is YOUR fault that I do have to!

And so yes, a good, safe registry cleaner and some user folder "know how", are both important tools when running Windows!

by JonathanT on 19. August 2009 - 12:30  (31155)

Well no registry cleaner is completely safe - the article also says "a registry cleaner is - if at all - a tool reserved for the experienced user".

by Anonymous on 21. August 2009 - 12:08  (31273)

Vit Registry Fix never causes a problem for me so I will continue using it. It defiantly makes my computer faster. I'm not an experienced user but it works for me so I'll just keep it.

by Anonymous on 15. August 2009 - 11:55  (27155)

Argente Registry Cleaner.Is in 10 languages,total free,modules to make:backup,configure,clean registry.You have possibility to exclude,automate,delete backup automate if you want.

by Anonymous on 13. August 2009 - 19:23  (27034)

Please Christoph: re-check carefully the EasyCleaner functionality. On my version, 2.0.6.380, it has a backup for deleted Registry Keys. Recovery Files are located under the installation directory, subdir: Undo.
To configure it, click on Option button, then there is a specific folder for the System Registry.
Regards

Marco

by Anonymous on 12. August 2009 - 12:21  (26928)
by MidnightCowboy on 12. August 2009 - 18:22  (26957)

This link has been doing the rounds for a while now but thanks for posting it again for the benefit of our more recent visitors. Anyone contemplating this type of software would be well advised to read this first.

by Anonymous on 10. September 2009 - 16:35  (32484)

The article IS interesting, though it fails to acknowledge the noticeable speed/responsiveness increase that proper cleaning &/or repair can provide. I suspect that for a single use machine it may be correct but it is misleading for anyone having or working on a machine with a history of multiple and changing uses including uninstalling programs.

by Anonymous on 9. August 2009 - 5:34  (26671)

Try NTRegOptimizer Made by the same people who made ERUNT, same gui too.

That really does work. I've heard all registry cleaners are actually bad for your system. NTREGOPT isn't however. It only compacts your registry and removes empty keys vs deleting data.

by Anonymous on 24. July 2009 - 7:09  (25693)

Unfortunately, Eusing Free Register Clean does not work on my laptop. The shared DLLs might falls into a dead loop and CPU usage is always 50% until the fan starts to roaring -- It halts very close to end.

Similar problem happens when saving registry. But it really find some problem.

by Anonymous on 24. July 2009 - 6:27  (25692)

I am wondering how many ccleaner did the author try?

I had problem with easy cleaner on windows 2000. Sometimes copy option disabled from context menu.

by Anonymous on 20. July 2009 - 17:02  (25439)

CleanHandlers is another app. that will clean past items in autoPlay list (right-click a CD drive,properties and then autoPlay you should see all autoPlay handlers for each event) Run app. and then chose the wrong entery (incomplete uninstall in most cases)
Go to: ( http://windowsxp.mvps.org/autoplayhandlers.htm )
and download (no install needed)

sandi

by Anonymous on 18. June 2009 - 19:20  (24109)

Shouldn't this section be deleted as Registry cleaning has been confirmed as useless and not freeing much space at all?

by Anonymous on 27. June 2009 - 22:01  (24433)

If I may be so bold, I must contradict this supposed fact that registry cleaning is useless. I, personally, use the CCleaner program and, although it may not free up much space, my computer runs significantly faster. I do not know why this is but I certainly think registry cleaners are a worthy investment.

by louis058 on 6. July 2009 - 16:23  (24724)

Are you sure the performance gains aren't from CCleaner's temporary file cleaning? Because that's CCLeaner's main strength. Or maybe the performance gain is just you wanting a performance gain so "imagine" it. I used to do that myself, and a lot of people still do that, surprisingly.

Okay, here's a simple test, get a computer running Windows XP and higher, preferably a slow one. Test the boot time, time it takes to open a program etc, then run a registry cleaner, clean the registry, reboot, then repeat the tests, if you get good performance gains (for example, boot time improves by a half a minute or more, or opening a program improves by at least 10 seconds etc) then Registry Cleaners are good... okay?

I personally have not really noticed performance gains from registry cleaners, even though I've used several in the past, and I used them for a while never thinking to actually check whether they do produce performance gains. One has messed up one of my computers once though.

by Anonymous on 7. June 2009 - 23:47  (23290)

I would get Erunt and make a folder and back up the entire registry before any registry clean. Also, make a system restore point. Are they needed? I have been told by at least one engineer friend that they were not. But, I use the Tweaknow for free, it gives you things you can delete and things you cannot. That said I rarely use it.
As to the argument for them. I deleted a program and kept getting errors and when I went to the event viewer it said this program tried to access. I went into the registry and deleted it and never got the error again.

by Anonymous on 8. June 2009 - 18:52  (23345)

To use and to do a registry backup with ERUNT is always a good ideia.

I don't use system restore; I use ERUNT ever before/after (un)install app., to do something with registry, etc. I did a bat file with quick Launch shortcut to automatize ERUNT backup.

I use Eusing Registry Cleaner and MV RegClean. Both are trusty.

by Anonymous on 4. July 2009 - 12:14  (24633)

was reading your comments and decided to look at erunt...looks really good and a nice txt file to explain. i now have it set up automatically...thanks...just another bonus of gizmo and its readers...

by syntax_error on 7. June 2009 - 2:11  (23219)

In relation to the review of EasyCleaner, re the comment on lack of a backup feature. Does this mean the Undo feature will not perform this function?

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