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How long will it take for a single registry "fix" to backfire?

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This is the first time I've actually posted something in a setting such as this, so bear with me if some details of posting etiquette have not been observed.

 

I have read/scanned just about all of the entries for this topic but have not seen anyone address my particular question.

 

I am not a "techie" as such, but I do make use of many software apps/programs on my computers. My technical conserns involve making sure that the computers are always clean and workable. Thus, I use an anti-virus/spyware program, make sure updates for Windows and other programs are installed ASAP, and, of course, I use cCleaner - have used it for many moons. Many entries appear when the registry is scanned by cCleaner, and I am very conservative with my "fixes". So far, nothing "fatal" has occurred after a "fix". But each of my computers has developed a few "glitches" over time. These are bothersome but have never required any action, as they did not interfere with my activities on the computers. I'm afraid that one of these days, a "glitch" will emerge that I cannot handle.

 

My question is: How long after "fixing" a single registry entry highlighted by cCleaner do I have to wait before I'm sure it's removal hasn't caused a problem? I could imagine working for days before the problem rears its ugly head and I would never be able to relate it to the registry "fix", just as I have current "glitches" that, all of a sudden, appeared.

 

Any thoughts?

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Though developers strive to make the registry cleaner as safe as is possible, unchecking the entries below may improve your registry integrity:

 

1) Unused File Extensions -> Reason -> May remove valid entries -> Example: Uninstalling KMP may not re-associate WMP with .MP3, leaving it "unused".

2) Obsolete Software -> Reason -> May remove valid entries -> Program "age" or infrequent use may flag legit entries as being ok to remove.

 

It is best to review all entries before removal, & only remove those you KNOW are safe.

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If you clean a registry key then you will hit disaster the same day should you run an application that needed that key.

 

Alternatively you will not know of any problem until a year later when you run the application that needed that key;

By which time you may have deleted your registry backup,

and even if the backup is available the remaining registry hive may well have adapted to altered installations and perhaps the key backup will not be a good fit any more.

 

I rarely clean the registry, and when I do I only remove what I am confident of.

 

If I get it wrong my perfect solution is to restore a partition image backup,

and the only downside if go back a year is that I may have to alter the desktop shortcuts for portable applications etc installed on non-system partitions.

 

Life was so much simpler before the registry took over from INI files.

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Guest Keatah

Arbitrarily speaking - if registry setting "A" affects operation "#4759".. well then.. we won't know if registry setting "A" is damaged or improperly cleaned or it breaks anything until we perform operation "4759".

 

My point being is you will not know until you do something that requires use of the registry setting(s) in question. Hence usage patterns and what you're doing in day to day operations make all the difference.

 

Practically speaking, If I change filetype assignments for graphics, but I only work with text documents. Chances are a corrupt .BMP or .JPG "open with.." type of setting won't make a difference and it will never show up!

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The problem with registry corruption in general is it may not show up for a very long time (sometimes months) after you've long forgotten about what was cleaned in the registry, or have umpteen .reg backups not knowing which "may fix the problem", or have deleted the backup thinking it wasn't needed.

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While I love CCleaner, and have used it since version 1.0, I have never used its registry cleaner component, and therefore I never experienced any problem.

 

I am sure there are many CCleaner users here that use the registry cleaner regularly, and also never have had any problems. But if you want to be 100% safe, don't use it.

 

What do you gain my running the registry cleaner? Maybe a good feeling, but nothing more. Removing a few (hundred) unused registry entries means absolutely nothing. You end up with a few empty slots in the registry database, but Windows will not run any faster because of this, nor will your applications.

 

Cleaning the registry always carries a certain risk, even with a relatively save program like CCleaner.

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I am sure there are many CCleaner users here that use the registry cleaner regularly, and also never have had any problems. But if you want to be 100% safe, don't use it.

 

What do you gain my running the registry cleaner? Maybe a good feeling, but nothing more. Removing a few (hundred) unused registry entries means absolutely nothing. You end up with a few empty slots in the registry database, but Windows will not run any faster because of this, nor will your applications.

I've run CCleaner's registry cleaner on hundreds+ of computers, can't remember that I'd have encountered problems afterwards.

But what I have gained; it has fixed some problems with some programs or even problems in Windows itself.

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HI, FPM. Welcome.

 

Just a thought. Those glitches that show up after some delay might not be related to your earlier registry fixes.

Maybe some other problem actually appeared later.

 

Pwilliner never uses the reg cleaner, nodles uses it often, I'm in the middle.

I only use registry editing when a problem forces me to, and then I save the backups in a dedicated folder.

Regardless whether using CCleaner or the native registry editor export function.

 

So there ya go, bunch of different opinions, none of'em wrong, just different approaches.

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This might be off topic, but I've always wondered why developers don't make applications better uninstallation wise. If uninstalling a product removed all registry keys that where no longer needed, doing their job, then people wouldn't need to use registry cleaners as much thus being safer. Is it something that is very tricky to do?

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Is it something that is very tricky to do?

I think it's partially sloppy by the developers. The installer "knows" exactly what it is placing into the registry and data folders, so the uninstaller should be able to remove all this.

 

However, program usage, preferences editing etc. may place additional registry entries that are not known to the uninstaller.

 

Furthermore, program updates may place more stuff into the registry, and at the end the uninstaller really cannot know what has been added since the original installation.

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This might be off topic, but I've always wondered why developers don't make applications better uninstallation wise. If uninstalling a product removed all registry keys that where no longer needed, doing their job, then people wouldn't need to use registry cleaners as much thus being safer. Is it something that is very tricky to do?

The problem is entirely the fault of Microsoft,

and also that many individual users accept the problem as normal.

 

In the "good old days" applications had *.INI files within the same folder.

Remove the folder and the application and all its INI preferences would be gone.

Microsoft decided the registry was something that would give them better control over what we could do.

 

Users do have some choice.over what they install.

Almost all of my application are portable.

If I decide I would like an application I always look for the portable version,

and if it is not available I search for a portable equivalent.

Portable applications use local *.INI files instead of global registry keys.

 

All my portable applications are held on a non-system partition,

with the benefit that when a Microsoft security update destroys Windows (twice a year)

I can restore my system partition from a backup image,

and although this immediately cancels out recent configuration changes to applications that use the registry,

it has no effect upon my portable applications which hold their settings in the application folder on the non-system partition

 

I am thankful that all the Piriform products are available in Portable form.

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Guest Keatah

Only the very best application developers that care about the total user experience take the additional hour to write the necessary install/uninstall routines that remove *all* traces of their program. And by all traces I mean registry entries, temporary files, special .dll files, custom settings, .ini files, windows' settings, shortcuts, empty directories & folders, user generated data and configurations and profiles, drivers, and so on and so forth.

 

The main obstacle to doing this is none other than carelessness and laziness. The programmer knows exactly what is added to the system and thus also knows what to remove. Whadda'ya know! They're both the same thing! There are no tricks or gimmicks involved here. This is not rocket science. This is laziness.

 

Good programming would also dictate that if user-generated settings and configurations are placed in any section of the registry - they should be made known to the uninstaller. This is not difficult either. And if there are updates to the program. The update installer can be made to make amendments to the original installation record, or simply be all-inclusive. Again, this isn't hard. The uninstaller can highlight differences between what was originally added at setup time and what exists now.

 

When you go to remove something, the uninstaller would remove what it knows. If it finds additional material it cannot reconcile - it should alert you with enough information so that you can take further action yourself. If questions or conflicts arise during removal; the issue and operation in question can be presented to the user in a clear & concise dialog box or output to a text file on the desktop. I've seen examples of all the above behavior taking place.

 

While there are well-behaved programs that do their best to abide by the leave-no-mess-behind philosophy, I tend to always recommend portable-style applications. By this I mean programs that can be installed by manually copying them to the Programs directory and making a shortcut yourself. Ideally the program would keep all its settings to itself in a .ini file in the same folder. And this works well for the small stuff, but when it comes to productivity suites, media, internet.. forget it. Sure, you can get these things to behave like portable-leave-no-mess-behind stuff. But doing so requires more advanced knowledge on the user's part to set it up.

 

Personally, myself, I like to "test install" new things on another system which is "disposable" and can be immediately restored from disk image. A sandboxed VM works well here too. Once I am satisfied that the program is useful to me it becomes a keeper. And at that point I could care less about how much it sprawls itself all over town. And if I have to remove it, which is rare, I'll go romping through the stuff I listed in the first paragraph.

 

A lot of this "portable" way-of-doing-things takes some effort. It requires you understand folder hierarchies and know the difference between 4 major types of data, UserData, OperatingSystem, Programs/Applications, and Settings. Not to mention where all that stuff is located. This is way way too much for today's dumbed-down users. You can thank smartphones and tablets for fueling this fire. And the problem is only going to get worse. Besides, when a phone or tablet goes bad, the first thing you are taught to do is reset it anyways.

 

We used to work this way in the old-school 8-bit days of the Apple II. And while today's systems are infinitely more capable when compared against the old dinosaurs they could benefit from a dose of simplicity and straightforwardness.

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