Countless articles have been written over the years on the topic of optimizing PCs that run Microsoft Windows in order to make them run faster.
Many of those articles offer a number of good tips, but they almost always include one that I don’t recommend: Optimizing the Windows Registry.
There are a number of programs on the market that promise to clean up and optimize the Registry, but personal experience with computers of my own and many others belonging to friends, family and customers have proven this to be a bad idea.
The Windows Registry is a complex database containing information and settings for virtually every program installed on your system as well as for the Windows operating system itself.
If a Registry clean-up program makes a mistake and deletes or alters an entry that it shouldn’t mess with, your system could easily become unbootable or unstable or one or more of your applications could stop working. I’ve seen it happen many times over the years.
While it’s true that defragmenting the Registry and removing obsolete or orphaned entries might speed up your system a just bit, the potential tiny increase in performance isn’t enough to outweigh the potential risks in my opinion.
Several otherwise great “clean-up” type programs include a tool for optimizing the Registry, and I use a couple of those programs myself. But when I do I always skip or turn off the Registry Optimization option when I use them.
Of course you can greatly reduce the risk of data loss and make it a lot easier to recover from a catastrophic mistake (or hard drive failure) by frequently backing up your hard drive.
Bottom line: While some other techs might disagree (we all have our own thoughts on the matter based upon our own body of experiences), when it comes to the Windows Registry, I believe it’s best to simply “leave well enough alone”.