What Causes Registry Errors?

How Does the Registry Get Errors in It?

Image of the word ERROR in a string of binary code
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You know that a registry cleaner removes issues from the Windows Registry but what causes those issues?

Do all registry problems produce error messages? What sorts of errors happen in the registry and what causes them? Can you prevent those problems from happening?

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

"What causes these errors in the Windows Registry that need fixing by registry cleaners?"

Let's first define what we're talking about when we say a registry error:

The "errors" in the registry that a registry cleaner removes aren't really errors. The entries they find may be unnecessary or pointless, but they're not errors in and of themselves.

Sometimes a registry key that shouldn't be there will cause an error message, usually a "missing file" error, but those errors don't mention the registry in any way and aren't always due to a needless registry key.

So if what you mean by registry error is any issue that later ends up being solvable by a registry cleaner, take a look through my What Types of Computer Problems Do Registry Cleaners Fix? piece for more details.

Aside from those sorts of minor problems, there are some types of real registry errors. By real, I mean errors that indicate true problems with the Windows Registry portion of the Windows operating system.

These sorts of errors are so serious that sometimes they prevent Windows from starting properly. Some mention that Windows can't access the registry, that the registry is missing, or that the registry is corrupted, among others.

Registry cleaners are completely useless in situations like this, partly because a registry cleaner needs a working registry to do anything at all. See What Does a Registry Cleaner Do? for more on what these programs are for.

Your best course of action when you have a true registry issue is to follow standard troubleshooting when a computer won't start, or if you're lucky and Windows will start, performing a System Restore is probably your best bet.