Do Registry Optimizers Really Work?

Gnomie Alonte J. Samuels asks:

Do registry optimizers really work? If so, where can I find a good one?”

This is one that comes up a lot. There are lots of registry optimizers for Windows on the market — from well-meaning freeware to low-priced shareware to full-priced suites — that promise to organize your computer’s registry and bring its running speed back to brand new, out-of-the-box quickness. If there are so many options out there for registry optimization, then there must be a demand for it, right? Well…

Do Registry Optimizers Really Work?LockerGnome’s official stance for quite some time has been that no registry optimization software out there — whether it’s priced anywhere between zero to hundreds of dollars — poses any significant benefit to your system. Sure, there may have been a time when computers packed less of a processing punch and registry optimization software may have offered a very, very tiny improvement to their running speed, but computers nowadays can handle quite a bit of registry conflict without human observation noticing any difference in their performance.

And really, you’re just as likely to screw up your registry by trying to “fix” it as you are to actually “fix” it; you stand to lose more than gain just by pressing that pretty little “optimize” button in whatever software you’ve been suckered into downloading.

Better ways to optimize your computer’s performance include reinstalling Windows from scratch if you notice it running painfully slowly, and not running 90 different memory-hogging processes at the same time. Not using a program? Shut it down! Simple as that. As Chris says in this video:

“Optimize your workflow, not your registry.”

How do you feel about registry optimizers? Do you agree with our assessment, or do you swear by registry optimizers and strongly disagree with our stance? Have at us here in the comments!

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Our resident "Bob" (pictured here through the lens of photographer Jason DeFillippo) is in love with a woman who talks to animals. He has a fondness for belting out songs about seafaring and whiskey (arguably inappropriate in most social situations). He's arm-wrestled robots and won. He was born in a lighthouse on the storm-tossed shores of an island that has since been washed away and forgotten, so he's technically a citizen of nowhere. He's never killed in anger. He once underwent therapy for having an alien in his face, but he assures us that he's now feeling "much better." Fogarty also claims that he was once marooned along a tiny archipelago and survived for months using only his wits and a machete, but we find that a little hard to believe.

  • Jimmie Myers

    I have always had good luck speeding up Windows machines (at work, on mine & many others) using the registry options under CCleaner, along with that program’s other features. I have also seen noticeable improvement with a combination of CCleaner, Little Registry Cleaner then Little Registry Optimizer. The results are most noticeable after the first time use, usually on a machine that has been running for awhile (9 months or more) and has never had these utilities run before. Best results are when the machine has had many programs installed and then removed, leaving all kinds of crap behind (both on the drive and in the registry). These programs all offer the option of backing up anything you are about to remove/fix/clean. I have never needed to use this feature (to restore/’unfix’ a fix).

    This has always been on Win-2k/XP/Vista, have yet to need it on a Win 7 box.
    However, YMMV

    • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

      I still say it’s the placebo effect.

      • Docwert

        I have had many machines that were dead slow and crashing time and time again be turned around with CCleaner’s registry repair. I don’t know about optimizing the registry but CCleaner has saved me doing system reinstall many times.

        • http://robertglenfogarty.com/ Robert Glen Fogarty

          I think CCleaner does more than just registry cleaning, though, no? Its other features can certainly come in handy.

          • Robert W! Tompkins

            CCleaner does much more than a Registry Cleaner. It can clean your startup group, help privacy by clearing all caches at startup, adjusting the programs that start at boot even offering a ‘delay start’ feature in some older versions and several other nifty features.
            The ads with the dildo running around saying doublemyspeeddotcom at doublespeed need to be flushed as false advertising.
            It’s is doublemyspeeddotcom and a bunch of other actually useful free stuff.

        • Jimmie Myers

          Also, forgot to mention DeFraggler in the process.

          The speed improvements I’ve noticed have always been most noticeable (definitely & measurably noticeable – not something the placebo effect is known for) after CCleaner vs. the Little Registry Cleaner. Someday I’ll have to try both ways separately / individually, on a saved image as a comparison…Besides, can computers (Windows or otherwise) even feel/experience the placebo effect? ;)
          Defraggler makes a noticeable difference depending on the drive, the frequency of it’s fragmentation / defragmentation, and what’s on it – system drives seem to benefit more than a DAW’s record drive, for example.The aforementioned utilities are all free, an added bonus if they work for you, and no big loss besides time if they don’t. Better yet, if/when you remove them from your system, they don’t leave the crap behind that they were designed to clean up! :)

          • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

            I’m not suggesting that tweaks aren’t made, but at the risk of losing “everything” I don’t think these types of optimizations are worth it unless you’re troubleshooting a problem (in which case, you’re in asking an entirely different question).

  • Jimmie Myers

    I have always had good luck speeding up Windows machines (at work, on mine & many others) using the registry options under CCleaner, along with that program’s other features. I have also seen noticeable improvement with a combination of CCleaner, Little Registry Cleaner then Little Registry Optimizer. The results are most noticeable after the first time use, usually on a machine that has been running for awhile (9 months or more) and has never had these utilities run before. Best results are when the machine has had many programs installed and then removed, leaving all kinds of crap behind (both on the drive and in the registry). These programs all offer the option of backing up anything you are about to remove/fix/clean. I have never needed to use this feature (to restore/’unfix’ a fix).

    This has always been on Win-2k/XP/Vista, have yet to need it on a Win 7 box.
    However, YMMV

    • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

      I still say it’s the placebo effect.

      • Docwert

        I have had many machines that were dead slow and crashing time and time again be turned around with CCleaner’s registry repair. I don’t know about optimizing the registry but CCleaner has saved me doing system reinstall many times.

        • http://robertglenfogarty.com/ Robert Glen Fogarty

          I think CCleaner does more than just registry cleaning, though, no? Its other features can certainly come in handy.

  • Anonymous

    my best friend’s mom makes $77 an hour on the computer. She has been out of job for 9 months but last month her check was $7487 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read about and follow the instructions to get started , here http://xub.me/Q

  • http://www.facebook.com/fkubena Frank A Kuběna

    So why is a registry optimizer/cleaner advertised here on your website? At this very moment, the ad is right under your vid opposing the use of registry optimizers…LOL Oh and FTR, I don’t believe in registry optimizers/clearners either…yes, they are a waste of money.

    • http://robertglenfogarty.com/ Robert Glen Fogarty

      Ads generated by Google can, sadly, be contrary to whatever message is conveyed in any given post — sometimes to hilarious result. Making a political post in favor of one candidate during an election campaign can result in ads for the opposition, for instance.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fkubena Frank A Kuběna

    So why is a registry optimizer/cleaner advertised here on your website? At this very moment, the ad is right under your vid opposing the use of registry optimizers…LOL Oh and FTR, I don’t believe in registry optimizers/clearners either…yes, they are a waste of money.

    • http://robertglenfogarty.com/ Robert Glen Fogarty

      Ads generated by Google can, sadly, be contrary to whatever message is conveyed in any given post — sometimes to hilarious result. Making a political post in favor of one candidate during an election campaign can result in ads for the opposition, for instance.

  • Viking27

    They completely SUCK  that said I feel a strong pity for anyone
    that has actually purchased a program like that ! The “Driver”
    programs also fall into the same category I Talk about swamp
    land in Florida ! 

  • Viking27

    They completely SUCK  that said I feel a strong pity for anyone
    that has actually purchased a program like that ! The “Driver”
    programs also fall into the same category I Talk about swamp
    land in Florida ! 

  • Jdl

    Hi, I have been running the same install since 2008 on a 1999 presario, I use  NTREGOP.exe. Microsoft bought these guys out, and it optimises, and keeps my reg running smoothly

  • Jdl

    Hi, I have been running the same install since 2008 on a 1999 presario, I use  NTREGOP.exe. Microsoft bought these guys out, and it optimises, and keeps my reg running smoothly

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.quance Robert Quance

    I have tested many registry,”optimizers,” over the years and find some do more harm than good but others really work well when used on an older machine.  Most optimizers try to remove obsolete file references and then sort out the registry into an orderly pattern which makes the system not go chasing around looking for nonexistent files, saves execution time thus speedier machine. The registry is just a big database so when it gets messed up with old obsolete data the computer takes longer to sort out the junk thus a slower responding machine. If all programs worked correctly the cleanup would be unnecessary but junk is almost always left after a program runs and thus registry optimization helps sometimes. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.quance Robert Quance

    I have tested many registry,”optimizers,” over the years and find some do more harm than good but others really work well when used on an older machine.  Most optimizers try to remove obsolete file references and then sort out the registry into an orderly pattern which makes the system not go chasing around looking for nonexistent files, saves execution time thus speedier machine. The registry is just a big database so when it gets messed up with old obsolete data the computer takes longer to sort out the junk thus a slower responding machine. If all programs worked correctly the cleanup would be unnecessary but junk is almost always left after a program runs and thus registry optimization helps sometimes. 

  • Bill J

    For about 8 years I have used NT Registry Optimizer (NTREGOPT.EXE”) during my weekly backup regimen. After each use it tells me that it has reduced the size of the registry by (in my case) zero to two percent. My thoughts on this have been that “every little bit helps”.  Do these 1 and 2 percent reductions add up over time or am I wasting my time?

    • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

      If it makes you feel better, I guess that counts for something?

  • Bill J

    For about 8 years I have used NT Registry Optimizer (NTREGOPT.EXE”) during my weekly backup regimen. After each use it tells me that it has reduced the size of the registry by (in my case) zero to two percent. My thoughts on this have been that “every little bit helps”.  Do these 1 and 2 percent reductions add up over time or am I wasting my time?

    • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

      If it makes you feel better, I guess that counts for something?

  • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

    I’m not suggesting that tweaks aren’t made, but at the risk of losing “everything” I don’t think these types of optimizations are worth it unless you’re troubleshooting a problem (in which case, you’re in asking an entirely different question).

  • Craw2855

    I’ve found that a good tech is far more effective than some crack-pot freeware.  Some of them do massive amounts of harm, and without a good REG backup — you may be ‘up a crick’.

    Deleting most of theHKLMRun seems to be the ONLY reduction that produces noticeable results imo.

  • http://twitter.com/fixgadget FixGadget

    I’m not sure if pay versions of registry optimizers/cleaners are any better than anything freely available. In my experience its not a placebo, and it has made the difference when applied to systems that generally have no maintenance performed on them. I find that in place upgrades from Vista to 7, or XP to Vista tend to benefit from something like CCleaner or NTRegOpt. To say that they don’t work would actually require an awkward benchmark. I run into many malware infected systems on a daily basis as an onsite tech. I think I could provide some before/afters on video to show any changes.

    By the way Chris is it possible to setup cameras like the ones you have on a shoestring budget of $1000 or less?