A Search Engine For Your Windows Registry


Registry FinderThe registry is the most important file on your PC. Almost every setting and configuration option for Windows and for every installed program is held in the registry. Browsing through the registry is both harmless and educational, although editing its contents can cause problems if you don't know what you're doing.

For such a crucial file, Microsoft's registry editor tool that's bundled with Windows is, frankly, very poor. It's tricky to use, and very difficult to find what you're looking for. The search facility is present, but it is not easy to use and it doesn't display the results in a usable way.

That's why I'm rather a fan of a program called Registry Finder. It's a registry editor for Windows, which also has a much improved search facility that displays all its results in a single pane so you can look through them for precisely the entry you want.

As before, editing the registry is still not advisable unless you know what you're doing, but it's a much more friendly way to find all the registry entries related to a single program or feature.

Registry Finder is a 4 MB download from www.registry-finder.com and it's free. The file is malware-free according to VirusTotal, and the download site is rated as reputable by Web of Trust.

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Registryfinder needs to improve its error recovery routines. If you enter anything it doesn't understand as a parameter, it simply crashes. For example: registryfinder --h instead of -h will crash it. A lot of the command line options I tried caused a crash. For me, the command line parameters are not explained very well and need to show some working examples for each option. This could help avoid some of the crashes caused by entering the parameters incorrectly. Not all parameters are listed on the website as compared to what gets listed from the command line via -h.

Registry Finder sounds like a great tool for experienced Windows users, who like to edit the Windows Registry

But if you are the average Windows user, there is no need to directly edit the Windows Registry, unless in extreme circumstances

I am a reasonably proficient Windows User since Windows 3.1 in 1992.
Over the last 25 years I have had to use the native Windows Registry editor (regedit.exe) less than 5 times, if at all
I only used a Registry editor when following instructions how to remove a computer infection, from a reputable computer website

Did you know Microsoft once provided a free registry cleaner named RegClean. It hasn’t been supported since Windows 98. Microsoft removed it from their website because it caused so many problems

Alternatively, some software customises which programs start with Windows - and allow you to indirectly edit the registry - these programs if reputable are usually safe
In addition, some uninstaller applications do check registry entries when you remove programs, even then only delete the registry entries directly related to the program being installed, and not other more general registry keys

Windows Finder is a Registry Editor
On the other hand, avoid any "Registry Optimising programs" that claim to speed up your computer, or claim to delete registry duplicate entries, or claim in any way to improve your registry or to optimise your computer in any way
Such programs are all designed to steal your money from you, and never work as intended
Such programs can damage your computer so badly it doesnt start, and Windows has to be reinstalled. You can lose all your data in some cases

The best ways to speed up your computer are:
1)Use portable programs wherever possible, as installing programs often adds to your computer start and shutdown times
In the last 25 years a major trend has been the advent of free and portable software (many on TechSupportAlert) for most computer functions
There are now very reputable portable Media Players, portable Image Viewers/Editors, portable ScreenCapture utilities, and portable Internet browsers. Find these and use them if they suit you, they prevent a lot of the bloat of installed programs
2)Use a freeware utility which lets you know which programs want to load everytime you turn on your computer
If software that you no longer use wants to start up with Windows, stop it from doing so
Dont stop a process loading at startup unless you know exactly what is it however, some may be important video or Windows drivers
3)Use Task Manager or one of the many freeware alternatives found on TechSupportAlert
Get to know how much memory is used, by each program that is on your computer. If a program is hogging a lot of memory, try and find an alternative program that uses less memory
4)Be aware that a lot of internet browsers have the problem of memory leak - the longer they are being used, the more memory they also use.
Use a Task Manager utility to see if your preferred browser has this problem. If so, find an alternative internet browser
5)Ensure the antivirus program you are using has good online reviews, and isnt known for slowing computers
6)Avoid visiting dodgy sites, including downloading sites, unless you know what you are doing
Increasingly more sites are infecting computers if you click infected links on these pages
7)Use a program uninstaller with a good reputation. Some programs like to clutter your RAM, and like to load on Windows startup and bloat your computer memory. A safe uninstallation program is invaluable for any program you no longer need or use
8)Windows 10 telemetry is Microsofts way of sending information about your computer back to Microsoft, and probably robs your computer of processing speed and/or memory with its various processes. Find reputable freeware on TechSupportAlert that safely blocks this telemetry, unless you have a need for Microsoft to be sending information back to Microsoft about your computer and your computer activities
9)Backing up the Registry can be a good idea. But this does not involve directly editing the Registry
Free and reputable Registry backup programs are available, to be used if your computer needs to be reset to an earlier time because of new malfunctions. Again always be careful with programs that work even indirectly with the Registry
10)Freeware programs are available which notify you everytime a program tries to add itself to the registry, to start up when Windows starts
Such programs are an added layer of protection, and restrict which programs actually are allowed to start when you turn on your computer !
11)Purchase more RAM for your computer, if your Operating System (32bit or 64 bit) can accept more memory

I wont recommend specific freeware utilities, they are all described on TechSupportAlert

In summary, for the average Windows user, unless you absolutely have to, there is usually NO need to be touching the Windows Registry

Lets let Microsoft have the final say. In March 2017, Microsoft specifically stated:
"Microsoft does not support the use of registry cleaners. Serious issues can occur when you modify the registry incorrectly.
We strongly recommend that you only change values in the registry that you understand or have been instructed to change by a source you trust, and that you back up the registry before making any changes.
Before you modify the registry, make sure you back it up, create a restore point, and make sure that you understand how to restore the registry if a problem occurs" (Google: 'Microsoft support policy for the use of registry cleaning utilities')

Your lengthy comment could do with some clarifications.

Registry cleaning was essential for Windows 95 and less so for each later version of Windows.

Microsoft's own registry cleaner (regclean.exe) was originally needed when Microsoft Windows 95 expanded the use of the registry to remove the proliferation of .ini configuration files. There was a crippling problem in Windows 95 when registry files got too big. The program was updated for Windows 98 and the last version was 4.1a in 1999.

It is notable that regclean was only discontinued late in the Windows XP era when it became incompatible with registry changes for Microsoft Office 2007 (released late 2006) and Windows Vista (2007).

Windows XP was also the last version of Windows where registry cleaning could easily produce a performance improvement. Vista still had some serious performance issues which left a little room to argue for registry cleaning but Windows 7 registry performance improved so much that it largely removed the need for registry cleaning.

I did a lot of testing of registry performance and you can read some of my test results for Windows XP in the article Do we really need Registry Cleaners? I stopped testing with Windows 7.

The "best way to speed up your computer" is generally to install enough physical memory because the primary cause of slowdown is so often insufficient physical memory.

Over the years, one of the ways that builders kept the price of computers low was to put in the minimum amount of RAM that would work. As the price of RAM has fallen, machines came with more and more. Most machines these days come with a minimum of 8GB which is plenty for most people unless the user is editing photos or videos (or gaming). But the real rule of thumb is you can never have too much RAM.

Most sense I've heard for a long time on these comments.
However I do often go into the registry, mostly to delete all the left over crap from programs I try and then uninstall. Or the odd clever hack I find from somewhere.
I'll be trying this offering although at present I am happy indeed with the portable editor I've used for years.

You seem to be under the impression that portable applications don't write to the registry. That's patently false. *Any* application can read and write to the registry. Further, when using portables, you typically lose features such as context menu entries that for some programs, are worth the price of admission.

A true portable application does not write to the Registry

Google "A Guide to Portable Applications" which is found on TechSupportAlert
This article explains where to find excellent portable software

I'm fully cognizant of what a "true portable application" is and isn't. I don't need to Google a guide. Simply correcting your statement, based on many years of software development.
But I see by the posting date you've already edited your initial entry.

My post refers to 'true portable" applications that make no changes to the registry

For example, Registry Finder is exactly the 'true portable' application that I prefer to use:

"Registry Finder can be used without installation...
The utility does not store any of its data in the registry.
It stores settings in the RegistryFinder.config file located in the same folder as the executable. "
(As described on the homepage)

NirSoft's free RegScanner is multi-threaded and FAST on search : http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/regscanner.html

To seach in 'Windows Registry' I use 'RegScanner' from NirSoft also. It works really good and has scan options well done.
"Registry Finder" is a very good editor that can replace 'Regedit' with aditional options.