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In Microsoft™ Windows™ operating systems (OSs) from Windows 95™ forward, information about installed hardware and software is stored in the Registry. The Registry is a foundational database, constantly updated as new programs or hardware are installed and uninstalled. Over time the Registry can become cluttered with fragmented data, often from programs that don’t uninstall cleanly. This can slow performance or even cause the computer to hang or deliver error messages. A Registry fix can return the database to a smoothly functioning state.
There are many programs designed to comb through the Registry looking for errors. Errors can be automatically corrected or manually approved via user configuration. Most shareware sites list Registry fix programs as Registry cleaners under “Utilities” or “Tools.” Some Registry fix programs are stand-alone, while others are bundled with tweak programs to provide an all-in-one package for streamlining, maintaining and customizing the Windows OS.
Since a corrupted Registry can make the system unstable, it’s probably a good idea for newbies to stick with tried and true Registry cleaners with solid reputations. Most shareware sites including CNET’s Download, SnapFiles and TuCows review and rate software. They also provide ratings as to popularity. Check for high marks in both areas. For advanced tweakers, TuneUp Utilities by TuneUp Software is a top rated bundled program that includes a Registry fix function along with an array of customization tools and tweaks. Two popular stand-alone programs are Registry Mechanic by PC Tools, and Uniblue Registry Booster 2, but there are many more.
Before trying a Registry fix program it’s a good idea to back up the Registry. You can make a restore point using Windows’ built-in Help and Support menu. You can easily revert back to the restore point should something go amiss with the Registry fix.
As a part of your routine maintenance schedule, consider running a Registry fix utility every month or so. Run it more often if software is constantly being installed and uninstalled, or if you are receiving program errors or have noticed degraded performance. Many Registry fix programs come with a built-in scheduler. If the program you choose does not include this feature, you can always use the Windows built-in task scheduler to run the task for you, or remind you to run it manually.