Keep That Registry Clean
It’s the perennial lament of practically all Windows users: “My system just doesn’t perform like it used to.” This truism has persisted from version 3.1 all the way through today’s Windows 7. Sure, some of the blame can be placed on hard drives filling up. Disk fragmentation can take a toll. As users add more programs, more applets run in the background and weigh down Windows like layers of fat. But another of the big culprits in performance degradation is all of the unwanted garbage that amasses in the Windows registry over time.
As programs get installed under Windows, several changes get made to the registry, a database of configuration settings that controls how Windows functions and interacts with applications. Inevitably, though, users remove programs, both to keep the interface clean and to remove some of those burdensome background applets. But not all programs clean up after themselves upon leaving, and over time the registry becomes littered with redundant and potentially cumbersome entries that—you guessed it—slow Windows down while doing nothing for the user in return.
Registry cleaners are a kind of software designed to analyze the Windows registry, find this unwanted detritus, and eliminate it, thus bringing the registry to optimal performance. That’s the good news. The bad news is that there are many “rogue” security applications that seem to do nothing except scare the user into paying for a full version of the program, do nothing helpful for the system, and may even install malware to make performance worse. (Look up “WinFixer” and its many cousins for examples of this.)
PC Tools Registry Mechanic 9.0 is a long-evolved and effective legitimate registry cleaner. In fact, the application and its loyal user base is one of the reasons why Symantec acquired Sydney-based PC Tools in 2008. Those experienced with Symantec’s Norton software line may instinctively worry that Registry Mechanic would become overlarge and do more to impede Windows performance than help it. As you’ll see, this isn’t the case. Symantec seems to have left PC Tools entirely free to continue on its pre-acquisition path and retain its streamlined, intuitive interface. Let’s check this out first-hand.