Will a Registry Cleaner Speed Up My Computer?

Is a registry cleaner a good way to improve performance?

Image of a man having trouble holding on to an impossibly fast laptop computer
© Derek Bacon / Ikon Images / Getty Images

No, a registry cleaner will not speed up your computer.

In other words: absolutely, positively no. This myth is as silly and unrealistic as the stock photo image on this page.

If there's no way that a registry cleaner tool can speed up your computer, why do so many registry cleaners, especially ones that you pay for, make this claim all over their advertisements and websites?

Quite frankly, they do so to sell or encourage the use of their software. Users of sluggish, aging computer systems spend millions of dollars every year on "fix it" programs, hoping to solve a sometimes complex and expensive problem with cheap and easy-to-use software.

Some registry cleaner software makers will go a bit further and attempt to explain this magic ability in their programs by asserting that cleaning out the registry will result in a smaller registry. While that may be true to some extent (more on this a bit later), implying that a smaller registry means a faster Microsoft Windows is simply unfounded.

While a drastic decrease in registry size could have a minor impact on how fast Windows does certain things, the small amount of unnecessary data a registry cleaner will remove has but an ultra-small impact on your registry's size.

On an old, Windows 8 test computer, we exported the entirety of the Windows Registry, which came in at 409,980,298 bytes (around 410 MB). It contained 468,902 individual registry keys.

We then ran the registry cleaning portion of CCleaner on this computer, which had never had this, nor any, registry cleaner ever run on it before during its 2 years of heavy use.

CCleaner found and removed 329 unnecessary registry keys, totaling 82 bytes in size.

The math here is pretty clear: CCleaner found that just 0.07 percent of the keys in the registry were unnecessary, and removing them shrunk the size of the Windows Registry by just 0.00002 percent.

That size difference isn't nearly enough to make a noticeable impact on system performance, but the lack of a registry cleaner's power to speed up your computer isn't the only thing to consider when choosing not to run one. There are only a few good reasons to at all.

When we say that a registry cleaner won't speed up your computer, we're saying that the specific registry cleaning functionality of a registry cleaner program will do little good at making your computer faster. There are, however, registry cleaners (like CCleaner) that include extra features unrelated to the Windows Registry, of which are usually very helpful at speeding up a computer.

How to Really Speed Up a Computer

If a registry cleaner won't speed up your computer, what are your options? Fortunately, you have plenty.

Running fewer programs at once, uninstalling software you don't use, defragging your hard drive, removing system resource hogging malware, and/or keeping Windows updated are surefire ways to speed up a slow computer.

You can also make specific programs run faster by deleting temporary files and clearing a program's cache, such as the cache in your web browser.

Beyond the software side of things, you can increase the performance of your computer by upgrading key pieces of hardware like your RAM, hard drive (consider an SSD), and CPU. Those components directly impact the speed of any computer.

It's easy to confuse your computer speed with your internet speed, which might be the culprit it you're experiencing videos loading slowly or failed file uploads. There are lots of reasons you could have a slow internet connection.