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SOFTWARE TOOLBOX

Clean Registries Make Happy Computers

If there’s one software category that program makers never tire of taking a crack at it’s registry cleaners.

As many Microsoft Windows users know, the registry is a database of all the settings on a PC. It’s one of the most crucial components of the operating system, and it’s always a mess.

Any time anything is added or subtracted from your machine, chances are it’ll leave some crap behind in the registry. Over time, that can lead to all kinds of problems.

That’s why registry cleaners were invented. They’re designed to clean the gunk out of the registry.

Restore to the Rescue

Problem is, one PC’s gunk is another’s important component, so we have software makers toiling away trying to create a cleaner that will eliminate the maximum amount of garbage without trashing its host PC.

Needless to say, fiddling with the registry is dangerous stuff. For example, Winferno released a program called Registry Power Cleaner (US$29.95) earlier this year.

I gave it a try. Apparently it didn’t like an external hard drive connected to my computer. After it was finished, all the applications I had that saved data to the drive bugged out because they couldn’t find it.

Since I’ve been toying with registry cleaners for some time, I knew enough to create a restore point for my system before letting Winferno do its thing.

When things went bad, I just restored my computer to its pre-Winferno state and went on my merry way — after removing the registry cleaner from my hard drive.

That’s not to say the program disappeared totally from my system. I can still find traces of it in my registry.

Process Library

A recent entrant into the registry cleaning category is Registry Booster ($29.95) from Uniblue.

Uniblue makes a number of PC utilities as well as running the Process Library. The Process Library is a free service for searching for the meaning of various processes running on your PC.

If you press Ctrl-Alt-Del on your computer, the Windows Task Manager will pop up. Click on the Processes tab and you’ll see all the names of all the processes currently running on the machine. You’ll also notice that most of the names are unrecognizable. Hence the need for the Process Library.

The library will not only give you the straight dope on what a process does, but it will tell you if you can nix it, thereby freeing up memory and processing power.

The library is even more powerful if you install Uniblue’s free utility called Quick Access. It allows you to click on an icon beside any process in the Task Manager and be taken directly to the library for a definition.

Clean and Simple

As far as registry cleaners go, Uniblue has taken the clean and simple approach with Registry Booster.

Its main window has three primary buttons: start a scan, configure settings and defrag the registry.

As the program scans your PC’s registry, live information on its progress is displayed on the screen.

An animated magnifying glass rotates to tell you the program is running.

A tally of errors found is continually incremented, and an arrow moves through a list of the registry’s sections as the program analyzes them.

The application does its work with speedy dispatch compared to other cleaners that I’ve tried.

Four Times the Power

Settings for the program are Spartan. You can tell the program to start on boot up, start a scan when Booster starts, start as an icon in the Task Tray and ask for a back up before you set it loose making repairs to your registry.

Once you clean your registry, it’s usually very untidy. By defragging the registry, you get rid of wasted space and make it run faster.

How effective is the application?

I found Booster to do a very thorough job of sanitizing my registry. It discovered nearly four times more errors than my cleaner of choice — before I replaced it with Registry Booster.


John Mello is a freelance business and technology writer who can be reached at [email protected].


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