A question about Registry Maintenance

Discussion in 'other software & services' started by Rmus, Sep 8, 2012.

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  1. Rmus

    Rmus Exploit Analyst

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    From time to time, I see Registry cleaning discussed.

    Under what conditions should someone use a Registry maintenance product?

    For example, there is a Windows XP workstation in our church library. It has five or six programs installed, and no changes are ever made to the system except when updating, such as Flash and Adobe Reader.

    I wouldn't think the Registry would get to the point where it needed to be messed with by a Registry cleaning product. Am I correct in this thinking?

    thanks,

    rich
     
  2. d0t

    d0t Registered Member

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    I'm not expert but from what I read, unless you have a a problem, you won't get any improvement cleaning/compacting etc your reg.

    I used to clean my reg with MV Regclean. At first, I thought it wasn't doing any harm. But then, I started noticing some reg keys missing, eg. when I was trying to uninstall a program, it wouldn't work.
     
  3. fax

    fax Registered Member

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    Yes, only touch the registry if you have no other choice.
     
  4. kdcdq

    kdcdq Registered Member

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    I agree fully with the previous posters. Registry cleaners, especially for fairly "static" machines like Rmus described, are of extremely limited value..:thumbd:
     
  5. berryracer

    berryracer Suspended Member

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    Time after time again, I kept trying one registry cleaner after the other... even the safes one which only deletes fewer things compared to the others, CCleaner, and every one of them has caused an error somewhere.... you won't notice it immediately, but they only do harm, and go no good

    save yourself reformatting those computers by messing with the registry

    leave it the heck alone, that's the best maintenance you could do to it

    What I do sometimes is defrag the registry using Winmend registry defrag to get a 0.001% improvement but other than that, don't worry about cleaning anything
     
  6. Ragzarok

    Ragzarok Registered Member

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    Cleaning the registry has lost its relevance with most normal usage in this age of SSD and excessive processing speed.
     
  7. wat0114

    wat0114 Registered Member

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    I've used CCleaner for years to delete whatever little it finds in the registry and it's never caused any problems, otherwise they don't seem to improve things perceptibly. i would never purchase a product that scans and cleans the registry
     
  8. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    I think it best to create two distinct types of users - those who understand the registry and those who don't.

    For the group that does not understand the registry, I cannot think of any true registry utility that I would 100% trust. I do believe that an OS that has been on for years "could" see some benefits from registry work, but I would not recommend this group to do it themselves.

    As for the group that does understand the registry, they have many more tools available. I don't really believe in one tool that "fixes" your registry. That is asking too much, and I believe any tool that says it can is not being honest. Properly stated, they might claim they can help fix/repair some default settings of the OS registry, or if they target a specific application maybe. But overall, the registry is too diverse for any application to properly "fix" it.

    The first question is SHOULD you mess with the registry. My answer is, always. But, that is my answer for myself alone. I spent a lot of time with it over the years. I don't fear it at all. I have used a lot of tools over the years to help, and in every case they have been specific to the task at hand. SHOULD you or your resident geek mess with it? That depends on how well you understand it.

    The second question is WHEN should you mess with the registry. That one is much harder to have an answer for. Usually it is when you have no other options left but still have an issue.

    The third question is will messing with the registry ACTUALLY HELP. Again, hard to answer. If you have no specific reason to muck with the registry, then most likely it will not help. If your specific reason is valid, then yes, it often can help.

    I see the main problem with anyone touching the registry is that they often believe that "cleaning" it will help. It is true that there have been things over the years that could be "cleaned" out of the registry - orphaned entries from old applications, things like that. It is also true that there are some places in the registry that can and do "slow things down". The best example of this is services or autostarts, which are technically part of the registry, although many see them as just services.

    A good "true" registry located option that can bog things down are the shell extensions. This is one area that actually can benefit from a registry tool. However, it requires the user to understand what extensions are installed, and what they need or don't need.

    In my years of messing with the OS, including the registry, most of the registry entries that can be "cleaned" really don't make much of a difference. I edit the registry when I have a specific need, and quite often it solves an issue. It has been many years since I used a "cleaning" tool of any kind because I really don't think general cleaning works.

    Sul.
     
  9. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    This is not entirely true. Machines are fast today, but the registry is a database only. There are some settings, especially those related to the hardware, and sometimes software, that will slow everything down.

    A fast cpu won't fix this, as it is something that takes "time" to get over, until you fix it. (meaning, the system "hangs" sort of for a period of time, then goes back to normal) Granted, it isn't common, but just pointing out a fast system doesn't always mean other "older" things are irrelevant.

    Sul.
     
  10. berryracer

    berryracer Suspended Member

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    Listen to this guy, he knows his ~ Snipped as per TOS ~
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2012
  11. Rmus

    Rmus Exploit Analyst

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    Thanks, everyone, for your comments. Much appreciated.


    ----
    rich
     
  12. Brandonn2010

    Brandonn2010 Registered Member

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    I have 2 questions about the registry:

    1. I have gone into regedit and deleted HKEY_CURRENT_USER Software entries from software no longer on my PC, but even after CCleaner they still had keys on my PC. Was that risky or no big deal? I have had no PC problems.

    2. Is Windows 8 replacing the registry with an .ini file and if not, does it sound like they will in the future?
     
  13. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    1. Registry entries, on a well behaved application, write to HKLM/Software or HKCU/Software. Some will write crap all over the place. I consider these mis-behaved. Sometimes it cannot be helped, if the application hooks itself deeply into the OS. But most applications only need to be in the software area, because in reality most registry entries for apps are only configs anyway.

    So, in most cases, it isn't a big deal. Orphaned entries do nothing because there is no app looking for them if they were removed/uninstalled. Well, that is typically. If your entries are based upon some hardware drivers, then they can cause issues. If the entries are more sophisticated, with file type extensions or shell extensions, then again things can get messy and you can have "slow downs" and other such things as the OS or applications come to terms with missing things. Usually the signs would be something like your right click, and it takes an unusually long time to "pop up", or you go to do something, maybe even login, and it takes longer than normal, when it did not used to be that way. Again, regardless of the power of the computer, it is a "time related" thing, as the system waits for things to happen, and eventually sort of "times out", although it is not really a "time out" like we think of networks and such.

    2. The registry offers multiple parent keys, and many child keys, grandchild keys, etc. As for sorting, I don't think an .ini file is appropriate. An .ini could be considered a database of sorts, but the [section] format would make it wild and crazy with that much info like the registry has. I would not look for this to happen.

    But if you put the crazy structure an .ini file would have to have aside, you would see that for security, it just can't happen. In the registry, you have permissions. User A can read HKLM/Key_Foo while User X can edit HKLM/Key_Foo. There is no way this can happen in a single .ini file.

    I don't mind the registry really, but I would rather have an option of applications to use an .ini file instead. It would be easier, IMO to modify, but doesn't offer security the same. The advantage of the registry is that you can programatically use it, without needing to know where something physically lives. All settings are in one location. 6 of this, half dozen of that I guess.

    Sul.
     
  14. Kees1958

    Kees1958 Registered Member

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    I guess it is all in the mind. When someone has convinced you that your registry is not clean or needs cleaning up, the reported bits and entries removed from your PC, will increase the perceived (added) value of such maintenance.

    In practise:
    - left over registry entries are indeed redundant space in your registry

    - reclaimed space may be as much as 0,5 MB or lets say 1 MB for comparison

    - theoretical gain very old harddisk (1/50MB) = 0.02 seconds
    - theoretical gain mainstream disk (1/100MB) = 0.01 seconds
    - theoretical gain modern SSD (1/300MB) = 0.003 seconds

    I guess only flash gordon or superman would notice this difference, so my question to you (Rich) is, have you seen some super hero's in your church's library? When not, I have sincere doubts on the benefits of registry mainentenance on stable setups.
     
  15. PJC

    PJC Very Frequent Poster

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  16. Niels

    Niels Registered Member

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    Hello Rumus,

    The only time that you should use a Registry maintenance/ cleaner tool is when for example an installation went bad, and you want to install it again. Or when you are trying to install a security product but there are still remnants of an old security software present. Only let a Registry Maintenance tool delete registry entries of the software you want to remove.

    Regards
    Niels


    Hello Brandonn2010,

    Everything which is located under HKEY Current User registry key is related only to the current user account which is loaded. So it's normal that CCleaner will detect the same values in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE which means applicable for all user accounts.

    Rergards
    Niels
     
  17. allizomeniz

    allizomeniz Registered Member

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    Brandonn, anytime you delete registry keys it can be risky, whether with a registry cleaner or if you do it manually. Personally, I prefer deleting keys manually because I can do it with surgical precision. When you do it yourself always know exactly what you're deleting. If there's any doubt, you can always right-click and export (save) entries and restore them later if you need to. :)

    As for the second question, I'm afraid I don't know.
     
  18. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    I am curious, why would you (not specifically "you", just anyone) think virtualized would be any different?

    Virtualized registry is only a special parent key in the registry. Entries are still written, just segregated. Actually it reminds me of how SBIE works.

    Anyway, why would the virtual registry not become bloated? Since the virtual area lives in the actual registry, and all the values are still there but in a different than normal location, is there really any less "bloat"?

    Knowing what the virualization is, just struck me odd that a claim could be made for less bloat when it is all actually there.

    Sul.
     
  19. NGRhodes

    NGRhodes Registered Member

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    What have those settings got to do with the operation and maintenance of the registry though ?
    They could be stored in ini files and still have the same issues.
    The fix would be a fix to the software/hardware configuration, the registry just happens to be the storage medium [you specified].
     
  20. HAN

    HAN Registered Member

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    My personal rule of thumb for auto registry cleaners is if you are heavily considering wiping the PC and starting over because it's running poorly (but known to be uninfected by malware), then what the heck! as a last resort. If it helps, great! If not, you wasted a little bit of time before starting over as you considered doing anyway.

    FWIW... I have never seen any unbiased objective tests where auto registry cleaners have ever helped improve performance of a healthy PC. Maybe there are such tests. If so, I'd like to see one!
     
  21. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    Well, my response was directly related to the idea proposed by Mr.PC that a new/fast computer will not be effected by the registry, performance wise, because it is virtualized.

    I just point out that virtualized registry is still the same registry, just in a different parent key location. If some misbehaved settings could be written to virtual area, they still exist to cause issues the same as in non virtualized areas.

    I guess I am at a loss as to why you mention that ini files could have the same issues. I don't recall hinting that they could not, only that the amount of keys in the registry would make an .ini file very complex in structure using [brackets] and that there would be no granularity in an .ini for permissions.

    Sul.
     
  22. Fuzzfas

    Fuzzfas Registered Member

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    This. In my case it is a combination of paranoia about having my PC clean and avoiding possible conflicts (like AV2 upon installation keeps thinking that you still have AV1 installed and refuses to install).


    My method is: Prepare some basic images (i have one with Windows+drivers only, and another with Windows+all programs installed). Then, you can use registry cleaners. If something goes bad, ditch the cleaner and revert to an image.

    To be honest, i haven't had a problem with registry cleaners since the XP days. Do they really help? I don't know, i just have a mania of perceiving my PC as "clean". :D
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2012
  23. Meriadoc

    Meriadoc Registered Member

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