Friday, August 3, 2012

Cleaning up registry debris the safe way ...

As you know, many programs leave debris around after uninstall. Now, there are all types of debris, and some of it is more important than others. As I recommend on my RegMerge page, do NOT resort to registry cleaners that may very well cause more harm. Instead, I recommend using RegEdit to search for the product's name, then delete keys or values that have it. WARNING: Be sure you know what you are doing and have made a backup of your hives or restore point first.

The most serious thing left behind are shell extensions or unrestored file associations. These can cause complications, or at least annoyances. In the latter case, unrestored file associations (e.g. the program didn't revert to associate whatever extension with the previous program), you must manually correct these. I've always thought of a project to try to repair these to their default state, and indeed RegMerge was/is the basis for that. However, for it to work, we first need 'default sets', which are .REG repair files that simply replace the shell association with its default handler. If you have such, please submit them, you'll of course get full credit for your contribution! Remember, RegMerge is 100% freeware from Bitsum - one of our many contributions to the community!


  1. What about CCleaner's built-in registry cleaner? I've always used that for years, and it doesn't seem to have caused any problems. And, it always finds a ton of stuff.

    1. CCleaner is one of the safer registry cleaners, but even it is not perfect. Fortunately, its author continually maintains it. An example: I had an issue with it deleting one my product's registry keys because it didn't match "ProcessLasso" with the installed application "Process Lasso" (with space). I don't like commenting on specific products though, but would say if you're going to use a registry cleaner, that's probably your best bet, but even then you need to be sure you take a look at what it has chosen to delete BEFORE you issue the delete command.

    2. (and its author DID fix the error, which counts for a lot...)