Registry cleaners are dangerous to use. They generally rely on the software writer's opinion of what needs to be deleted and what needs to stay. The better one's make you decide what to delete and what to keep.
The registry is a very complicated piece of software. And, it's modified by any number of different programmers when you install their software on your system. I personally doubt that there's anyone who fully understands all the complexities of the registry as a whole.
Overuse of a registry cleaner will eventually cause problems on your system. Even the safer one's will do this.
A bloated registry can cause system problems, as can a registry with bad entries. Typically the effect on your system is minimal. But in certain circumstances it may even cause the system to crash.
So, in short - don't mess with the registry unless there's a specific need to do so.
Use this link to find problems in your registry: http://safety.live.com/
It is, IMO, the safest tool for this purpose. If you choose to fix registry problems with it, you can exclude any of the results that you think should remain. Then, before it cleans the stuff out of your Registry, it will make a System Restore point that will save a copy of your Registry.
NOTE: Defragging your hard drive before starting the scan will decrease the amount of time required for the online scan.
Since I've disabled System Restore on my system. I use ERUNT to backup my registry. Also, you can copy and save the list to a file before fixing the registry - that way you'll have a record of what changes were made.
Finally, be aware that the first pass of this tool will most likely find many, many entries that need to be fixed (in most cases this is 300 to 400 entries). It's to your benefit to scan the entire list, even though it will take forever.
My browser caused a flood of traffic, sio my IP address was banned. Hope to fix it soon. Will get back to posting as soon as Im able. - John
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