Cleaning the Windows Registry is needed because it can get clogged up. Old files no longer used might be logged in there. If they are not removed, it can affect system performance.
- Computer running Windows 9x and up
- CDs for backing up files
- Cleaning software (optional)
- Registry Editor
There are two ways to go about this process. You can do it manually with the Registry Editor or use software to automatically remove unneeded parts.
Using the Registry Editor
This is the built in editor / cleaner. When you install windows, this program is included. You probably won’t see it on the menu though. To access it and start cleaning the Windows Registry, follow these steps.
- Go to the Start button and click Run. In the dialog box, enter “regedit”. Click “ok” and the editor will open. Note: the rest of this guide describes a “typical” Windows setup. Yours may be different depending on the software and hardware you install. You might also have additional settings if you are on a local area network.
- You will see several HKEY folders. There is a plus sign on each one. Click the one next to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. This is where software and hardware set up and store their configuration files. You will also see folders called “system”, “software” and “security”.
- To start cleaning the Windows Registry, click the plus sign next to “software”. You’ll see a list of all software that has been installed in the machine. Click the plus sign next to the software you want to check out.
- You might see some sub folders there. On the right pane are the Registry entries. Select the file you want to remove. Click Edit and choose “delete”.
- Repeat this process for other files and folders.
Using Third Party Software
There are plenty of applications on the Net that can do the work automatically. When choosing a program, keep the following in mind.
- First it must have good reviews. Avoid those programs which contain bugs or been reported to cause problems. Second, read their features. Choose one that shows which ones are safe to remove. Some of these programs are very aggressive when cleaning the Windows Registry. If they remove needed files, it can seriously affect your computer.
- When you have chosen the program, download it. Check for viruses. Install it by following the instructions. Read the help file before using it. Even if the process is mostly automated, some input from you may be required. You need to know exactly what your options are.
Tips and Warnings
- Back up your files before performing any cleanup. Use a CD or DVD and copy all of them. You should do the same with the Registry itself. To do it, type “regedit” in the Run command line.
- Click the File menu. Choose Export and type a name (i.e., “regbackup”). Copy this file onto your backup CD. In case anything goes wrong, you don’t have to worry because you’ve got a working copy.
- Cleaning the Windows Registry will help your PC run better. If you take the right precautions, you don’t have to worry about making a mess.