Here's my take on cleaning or 'tuning up' the registry with any 3rd party software:
First off, one big thing about registry cleaning is it is by no means and should not be a computer maintenance task. Clearing your browser's cache and cookies every week? Great, no harm there. Running your favorite registry cleaner every week? NOT GREAT.
If we're being honest and straightforward here, cleaning the registry is an entirely unnecessary thing to do. So far, what I've said makes it sound like I despise registry cleaners. Do I? No, I don't despise them, but as I said, they are unnecessary and if used carelessly can render your Operating System a paperweight.
So why would you even use a registry cleaner in the first place? Well, they have to do something right or they wouldn't even be allowed to be sold (if paid for) or if they were free (CCleaner for example) there would be a huge backlash, more than what there already is in IT with regards to opinions based on registry cleaners.
Registry cleaning software is useful mainly for one thing, and it can be done very well depending on the algorithm the cleaner software itself is using, and that's removing remnants of old uninstalled software or entries with now invalid path names. At times, it can also possibly be useful for removing traces of malware that may have been stored in the registry that was not successfully removed after running a virus scan, etc.
Other than that, it's not going to do anything. It will not increase your system's performance by any means whatsoever. Nothing noticeable. A 'smaller registry' in theory would have one assume that things load faster, etc, but in reality there is no performance difference whatsoever.
For reference, take a look at this:
Mark Russinovich (Author of the "Bible", Windows Internals
, co-founder of Winternals and Sysinternals, and since both companies were bought by Microsoft, now a senior Microsoft employee) was asked:
Hi Mark, do you really think that Registry junk left by uninstalled programs could severely slow down the computer? I would like to 'hear' your opinion.
So, to sum all of this up:
No, even if the registry was massively bloated there would be little impact on the performance of anything other than exhaustive searches.
On Win2K Terminal Server systems, however, there is a limit on the total amount of Registry data that can be loaded and so large profile hives can limit the number of users that can be logged on simultaneously.
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 a registry cleaner increase the speed and/or performance of my system?
Why would I even use a registry cleaner then?
I personally wouldn't use one whatsoever and would find the problem you're specifically having and take care of it manually. That is much safer. However, the main use of registry cleaners is to again as stated above, remove remnants of old uninstalled software or entries with now invalid path names. At times, it can also possibly be useful for removing traces of malware that may have been stored in the registry that was not successfully removed after running a virus scan, etc.
What is the true danger of using a registry cleaner?
You have to remember what you're using is an automated tool that is not perfect by any means. You are putting your trust in an automated tool to be absolutely sure every key it is about to delete is 100% unnecessary. At times, and I have seen it personally myself PLENTY
, it can delete a very important key that is necessary to the functionality of your Operating System in some form or another.
What if my registry is corrupt, will running a registry cleaner help?