Registry Cleaners – Rip Off?

Do Registry Cleaners offer value for money or are they just another scam?

Type “Registry” into a search engine and you will find countless testimonials, reviews and recommendations for “Registry Cleaners”. This article is different. We challenge the wide spread conception that “Registry Cleaners” are beneficial for Windows based operating systems.

Background

There are many web sites that promote registry cleaner software and the benefits. Almost all have a commercial interest in doing so (e.g. software manufacturers or affiliate marketers). Search engines are flooded with sites and advertisements trying to persuade people to buy these products.

It is very difficult to find objective and substantiated information on-line regarding the true technical benefits or registry cleaners. The lack of technical data concerned me, and prompted further investigation.

In this article I offer an alternative view (based on my preliminary research) on the real implications of buying and running registry cleaner software for Microsoft Windows.

About the registry

The registry is a large file in Microsoft Windows that is responsible for keeping track of your installed software and internal operations of Windows. It is a mystery (being totally invisible!) to a non-technical Windows user but it has attracted a reputation over the years as being responsible for computer crashes and slow downs.

Promotion & the financial opportunities

To better understand why there is heavy promotion of these products, let’s look at a typical affiliate based commission structure as follows:

A typical affiliate commission for a successful sale of one of the popular on-line products is around $31. Sell 10 (quite possible in a day!), and you make $310. Not bad!

Anyone can set up a website, apply to an affiliate program and start promoting and selling these products on-line. No technical knowledge of Windows or of the registry is needed to start promotion & selling.

Marketing product claims

There are generally two benefits used to generate customer interest in these products:

1) “Fix” (e.g. error message boxes or pop-ups)

and

2) “Speed up” your computer

Assessment of the claims

As a Microsoft Certified Professional, here are my high level views on the benefits used to sell Registry Cleaners:

Do Registry Cleaners “Fix” your computer?

It depends what you mean by “Fix”. If you mean, for example, remove error pop-ups, then the answer is probably “Yes”. If you mean “Fix” where there is an underlying hardware problem such as a failing Hard Disk Drive (HDD), then the answer is probably “No”.

Do Registry Cleaners “Speed up” your computer?

I would suggest that the performance benefits of cleaning the registry are insignificant and would not be perceivable to an average user.

Slight performance gains may be possible by removing redundant registry keys or by defragmenting the registry file itself. However, any gains would be small particularly when comparing to other options for improving Windows performance such as optimizing virtual memory or by defragmenting the HDD.

Furthermore, there is more than anecdotal evidence available on-line that the frequent use of registry cleaner software can cause problems with Windows such as boot up problems (e.g. constant blue/black screens) and other corruption of the underlying operating system.

Conclusion – Too many question marks, dubious messages and conflicts of interest

Testing and independent validation is needed to establish the marketing benefit claims of registry cleaners. Until that time, could it be that, in many cases, these products simply don’t deliver what they promise to customers? As a “Windows Professional”, I have some specific technical questions around the area of the suggested performance gains with registry cleaners. If registry cleaners don’t deliver what they say, this opens up a whole other can of worms around the legalities of selling products that do not solve the problems that they claim to fix. Has anyone complained of not seeing performance gains from registry cleaners? (interesting..)

Selling and promoting of registry cleaner software is unregulated (i.e. anyone can do it) and so, it seems, are the marketing claims used to secure software sales.

I have put my findings so far on the Registry Cleaner market into the public domain as I believe, ethically, that customers should always have the opportunity to make informed decisions before buying. I would suggest that customers ask questions, do research and have a data backup strategy in place before running registry cleaners.