The system registry is a file located within all computers that run Microsoft Windows as an operating system. This file is responsible for recording and maintaining a wealth of information that is needed not only by Windows, but by almost every program that runs on the computer.
The registry keeps track of information like hardware setups, custom user settings, and program options for individual applications. The applications themselves actually access the file to read and write information as needed, storing everything in one convenient central location.
The registry also contains information that programs need to execute properly. This includes locations of important files, directories, and system information. Much of this data is inserted into the file when a program is installed, and it is usually updated as changes are made.
With every program, and the operating system itself, looking to the registry for direction, the importance cannot be understated. Even minor errors can cause major problems.
No program is perfect though. One vulnerability of the registry appears when it is time to uninstall an application. Part of the responsibility of un-installation is to remove now defunct entries from the registry. If this does not happen, then dozens, or even hundreds, of invalid entries will remain written into the file.
The more bad information that is stored in the registry, the longer it will take for a computer to boot-up. Performance when running certain programs may suffer as the system attempts to find files that are no longer there or have been moved.
In fact, the larger the build-up of unwanted, invalid information, the greater the risk of new programs not installing or running correctly. Fortunately, programs exist that can help remedy this problem.
Registry cleaners are programs that are designed to scrutinize a system registry file and reconcile each entry. By removing old entries, finding moved files for existing ones, and even adding new entries that were missing, system performance can be drastically improved.
A registry cleaner actually manipulates the system file, which leads to the question: Are registry cleaners safe? The answer is almost always yes. While the program will move through the file and change items, it will do so according to strict rules. The only threat here can come from a poorly made program, or from direct user input to modify the registry in harmful ways.
Add to this the fact that any decent cleaning software will first create a backup of the registry, and a system restore point, and almost all fears can be placed aside.
It is very important to make sure the registry cleaner you choose has backup and other safety options. Sometimes unforeseen events (like bad disk sectors, etc) can corrupt a perfect cleaning session.
It is a good idea to run a registry cleaner every time you uninstall software. It is also good to periodically run a cleaner just in case. Taking these simple steps will ensure that you are getting the maximum performance from your computer.
Besides the points already mentioned most registry cleaning programs also have a start-up manager. This one feature alone can really give your computer boost in speed. By stopping all the auto starting programs that do not need to run your computer will boot and load faster. Some good examples of this is the Itunes Helper and Kodak Easy Share software. Sure you still want the Kodak Easy Share software on your computer but why have it pre-load. The same can be said for the ITunes helper. Yes you may use the help function but it does not need to pre-load on your computer. When you want help you will simply select the help button in the Itunes program.