Are Registry Cleaners Safe to Use?

Is it Risky to Let a Registry Cleaner Loose on My Computer?

Photo of a computer monitor covered in DANGER tape
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Is it safe to use a registry cleaner? You may have heard that registry cleaners can sometimes cause irreparable havoc with a computer.

The Windows Registry is one of the most sensitive areas in Windows and should only be used if you know what you're doing... does a registry cleaner know what it's doing?!

The following question is one of several you'll find in my Registry Cleaner FAQ:

"Is it safe to let a registry cleaner delete things from the registry?"

Most of the time, yes, letting a registry cleaner remove the registry keys it finds as problematic or useless is perfectly safe.

Back in the mid-1990s, around the Windows 95 days, I clearly remember more than one situation where a commonly used, but poorly developed, registry cleaner caused regular problems with computers, rendering some of them so useless that reinstalling the operating system was the only solution.

Fortunately, the quality of registry and system cleaners are significantly higher now. Most of these tools have built-in ways to reverse changes when things don't go as expected. Plus, like with almost all things on the internet, reviews and attention to quality have driven the best programs to the top of every list and the poor ones out of existence.

Of course playgrounds today are safer than they were 30 years ago, but that doesn't mean that you should take your kids to the one right next to the county jail or an industrial chemical plant.

In other words, you have a lot of control over what happens. I don't mean picking and choosing through the hundreds of cryptic registry keys you're presented. I mean being diligent about your choices and taking proactive steps to protect yourself.

For example, please use a curated list of registry cleaners, like my list of free ones. Don't rely on whatever registry cleaner is paying the most for advertisements today or which ones the search engines are showing near the top this week. I've vetted them all already so save yourself the time and energy and pick from a reviewed list.

Finally, and most importantly, remember to back up the registry prior to letting a registry cleaner remove entries. Most registry cleaners do this automatically for you so either make sure that's the case before deleting, or back up the registry yourself before getting started.

This way, even if the registry cleaner you're using doesn't have an undo option, you can always use that backed up REG file yourself to restore the registry back to the state it was before whatever bad thing happened.

All that said, please remember: registry cleaners don't speed up your computer, you don't need to run one regularly, and they don't fix "real" registry problems.

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