How Often Should I Run a Registry Cleaner?

Is Registry Cleaning a Regular Computer Maintenance Task?

Photo of three red x marks on days of a calendar
© Jeffrey Coolidge / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Do you need to run a registry cleaner program once a month?

Or is once a week or every day a better idea for a registry cleaning?

For example, you may already know that running a defrag program is a great thing to do every so often because files get fragmented over time, but is it the same sort of thing with errors in the Windows Registry?

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

"How often should I scan my registry for problems with one of these registry cleaner programs?"

A lot of people are surprised to hear this as my answer:

You absolutely, positively, do not have to run a registry cleaner on any kind of regular basis.

In fact, most computer users never have a legitimate reason to run a registry cleaner.

Contrary to the online advertising pitches, the bad information from your neighbor, and perhaps your own belief prior to this moment, registry cleaning is NOT a computer maintenance task. I can not be more clear on this topic.

A long time ago, registry cleaners were more often, and more correctly, referred to as registry repair programs because that's what they do - they repair certain kinds of issues in the Windows Registry that cause a very short list of computer problems.

See What Types of Computer Problems Do Registry Cleaners Fix? for help figuring out what sorts of issues you actually should be trying to fix with a registry cleaner tool.

Habits are hard to break, though, so I often get this follow-up question at this point:

"Maybe registry cleaning is overrated, but what's the harm in running one every day/week/month/year... just in case?"

Honestly, I'd go beyond overrated and say unnecessary. Why would you want to do any kind of maintenance that's completely unnecessary?

Do you clean your smartphone screen with borax even though a bit of water and a microfiber cloth does the job? Do you soak your favorite book in soapy water to get the dust off when a quick wipe accomplishes the same thing?

Analogies are helpful, but let's get to the specifics with regards to registry cleaning:

For one, it's a waste of your time. You have work to do, viral videos to watch, fantasy football leagues to plan, etc. Whatever else you like to you use your computer for is a better use of your time than running a registry cleaner for no particular reason.

Secondly, it's a waste of your computer's resources. Using your computer's hard drive, RAM, and CPU for legitimate purposes is why you have a computer in the first place, but there's no reason to wear out those pieces of hardware even minutes sooner than need be with registry cleaning.

Finally, and most importantly, letting an automated tool mess around with one of the most sensitive areas of Windows is risky when there's no reward to be had. Take a look at Are Registry Cleaners Safe to Use? for more on this.

Don't get me wrong. As I mentioned in the first section above, there's a time and place for registry cleaners, but it's certainly not a regular computer task anyone needs to do.

If you haven't seen it already, take a look through my What Does a Registry Cleaner Do? for more on what these programs are for... and not for.