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  • Cleaning Up Registry Keys from Uninstalled Programs

    Posted on Nathan Parker Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody support PC hardware Questions – Maintenance and backups Cleaning Up Registry Keys from Uninstalled Programs

    This topic contains 9 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Nathan Parker 2 years, 5 months ago.

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    • #508427 Reply

      Nathan Parker
      AskWoody_MVP

      Is there a reliable program that can clean up (or at least tell me what to remove) concerning registry keys for uninstalled programs? I removed a couple of programs from my PC (WeatherBug being the major one), and I’d like to check to ensure there’s no registry keys left behind I need to clean up. I emailed the developer about it but haven’t heard back yet.

      I want something that will obviously not corrupt my operating system, and I will system image and backup my registry before proceeding.

      Thanks!

      Nathan Parker

    • #1593660 Reply

      bharder
      AskWoody Lounger

      CCleaner has a good reputation with the folks I work with.

      https://www.piriform.com/CCLEANER

      However I have to say, these registry cleaning programs have a history and reputation of causing problems with the systems they process. The trouble is that those programs have a difficult time telling, with the level of certainty needed, that any given registry entry absolutely is safe, or absolutely is not safe to remove.

      And if you run into trouble there’s no registry-level system that can tell you what registry entry needs to be restored (I’m talking about individual registry keys now). Therefore at best, you usually wind up restoring ALL the cleaned registry entries, and feeling like you wasted your time. At worst your system is hosed and you need to perform a complete system restore from backup.

      You’re talking about making backups and that’s great, do that to protect yourself. And when you clean your registry, start slow and conservative. You can always perform multiple registry cleans with additional options each time so going forward isn’t a problem. It’s the need to sometimes go backward that’s a problem.

    • #1593674 Reply

      Paul T
      AskWoody MVP

      Registry entries generally don’t do anything so leaving them be makes little difference, except that the registry may be a fraction larger than it might be without the entries.

      cheers, Paul

    • #1593677 Reply

      WSSudo
      AskWoody Lounger

      That’s why I use the free IObit Uninstaller as that has a deep clean to get rid of any residue, although it can leave the odd empty folder.

    • #1593678 Reply

      WSCalimanco
      AskWoody Lounger

      Registry Cleaners are mostly snake oil and some can do serious damage to the OS or installed programs. Registrar Registry Manager will tell you if any keys have been left by uninstalled programs. Warning – this is a powerful tool for users who understand how the Registry works and will brick the OS if misused. As Paul said, even if you remove the entries, you are unlikely to see any improvement in performance as all they do is take up a little space. You should consider editing the registry only if there is an actual problem and that only after obtaining advice from an expert on the forum.

      http://www.resplendence.com/registrar

    • #1593680 Reply

      WSRolandJS
      AskWoody Plus

      “…Registrar Registry Manager…” For specific targets, for specific purposes, [which NEVER included making PC SlimmerTrimmer, FasterOptimized, and other such worthless attempts] — for getting rid of dead-wood that has dammed the stream a little bit — and for uninstalls that kind of sort of got registry residuals past Revo Uninstaller Pro or free — I have carefully, cautiously, used Resplendence’s Registrar Registry Manager, Auslogics and Wise registry cleaners [they MUST be advanced/custom installed! Use nothing else that comes on their menu!] with success.
      Like you, I make backups before such tactical surgery. And test afterwards.

    • #1593699 Reply

      Rick Corbett
      AskWoody_MVP

      Is there a reliable program that can clean up (or at least tell me what to remove) concerning registry keys for uninstalled programs? I removed a couple of programs from my PC (WeatherBug being the major one), and I’d like to check to ensure there’s no registry keys left behind I need to clean up.

      I agree with PaulT (post #3) that (with a few exceptions):

      Registry entries generally don’t do anything so leaving them be makes little difference

      I would suggest that uninstallers which fail to remove services or scheduled tasks properly are more of a potential (but very small) performance issue, which TechNet/Sysinternals’ Autoruns flags with ‘file not found’. Unchecking these entries using Autoruns (then deleting them after a period of testing for adverse effects) just means that the OS doesn’t suffer the slight delay of trying to call or execute a non-existent command (the effect of which will be minimal and usually recorded in the event logs).

      I also agree with Calimanco (post #5) that:

      Registry Cleaners are mostly snake oil

      (If I remember correctly, Fred Langa was of the same opinion. Unfortunately I no longer have access to earlier versions of the Windows Secrets newsletters – which I paid for – so I can’t check back.) However, Ccleaner‘s Registry Cleaner tool appears to garner few complaints. I use the free portable version regularly and have never had a problem with it so keep a copy of the latest portable version on my ‘Utilities’ USB stick.

      To answer your specific question, Revo Uninstaller has been recommended in this forum several times. Again, I’ve used the free portable version many times and have never had a problem with it. I’ve also checked its performance against InCtrl5 monitoring (i.e. where I monitor the install, uninstall and subsequent cleanup by third-party tools like Revo Uninstaller) and haven’t found any issues (yet 🙂 ). As a result I also keep a copy of the latest portable version on my ‘Utilities’ USB stick.

      Hope this helps…

      • #1594004 Reply

        Lugh
        AskWoody_MVP

        If I remember correctly, Fred Langa was of the same opinion … I can’t check back

        You are correct, Fred has written against registry cleaning on modern systems [say Win7+] 3-4 times this decade.

        I agree with most of the others, the expert views I’ve read agree that registry cleaning has little upside and potentially plenty of downside.

        Lugh.
        ~
        Alienware Aurora R6; Win10 Home x64 1803; Office 365 x32
        i7-7700; GeForce GTX 1060; 16GB DDR4 2400; 1TB SSD, 256GB SSD, 4TB HD

        • #1594301 Reply

          Nathan Parker
          AskWoody_MVP

          Update on this: I successfully used Ccleaner to purge the few registry keys left behind by some uninstalled programs, and my PC still boots up after I performed the task. 🙂

          The thing with Ccleaner in general is I’d never recommend someone checking all the boxes on any cleaning tasks it does (registry or other cleaning tasks) and just having it do everything. My goal with it is only to selectively use it on specific, targeted areas where I need to a clean areas of the hard drive or remove particular registry keys. Before running it, I’d always create a full system image, System Restore point, and backup the registry.

          It does seem to effectively work though when used selectively and in a targeted manner.

          Nathan Parker

    • #1593719 Reply

      bbearren
      AskWoody MVP

      Registry Cleaners have always been snake oil to me. The registry is a database, and having unnecessary bits here and there doesn’t slow anything down or cause performance issues. The registry uses a binary search algorithm, which is extremely fast and doesn’t chase after dead-ends. The only exception to that I have found is for HP printer software. If an uninstall of HP printer software is not completely clean, it will balk at a fresh install, saying in effect that an install is in progress.

      I have relied on Revo Uninstaller Pro for the past several years without incident, with this one exception, which ironically was related to HP printer software. My advice has always been to leave the registry alone, unless you are competent enough to go in by hand (after making a fresh OS image) using regedit or Registry Toolkit from Funduc Software. Both are quite capable of munging your system if used incorrectly, so always make a drive image before diving in.

      But the bottom line is that there is no real reason to “clean” the registry, other than in very specific circumstances.

      Create a fresh drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!
      "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Savvy?"—Captain Jack Sparrow
      "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns

      "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware

      • #1593751 Reply

        WSRolandJS
        AskWoody Plus

        “…But the bottom line is that there is no real reason to “clean” the registry, other than in very specific circumstances.” One specific purpose, circumstance, was to remove a registry entry that was calling up a utility that had been “fired” by me, almost entirely removed by Revo Uninstaller Pro. I can’t remember which specific it was, however, that registry cleaning surgical strike did the job.

    • #1593755 Reply

      Nathan Parker
      AskWoody_MVP

      Great info. I have successfully used CCleaner in the past (thanks for reminding me about it), and I am comfortable enough with it where I can tell what it’s cleaning so I know what it should touch and what it should leave alone. I’ll look into it again.

      Nathan Parker

    • #1593799 Reply

      Charlie
      AskWoody Plus

      CCleaner also tells you what the registry entry is for and prompts you to make a backup of the entry or entries. I sometimes find a slew of registry entries “leftover after uninstalling” after doing the Windows Update. I’ve cleared them out easily without any problems using CCleaner.

      Win 7 Home Premium, x64, Intel i3-2120 3.3GHz, Groups B & L

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