What Causes a Windows Registry Error

The vast majority of computer problems, up to 90% according to some experts, are caused by registry errors. This critical collection of data controls your machine’s every electronic move; if anything is out of whack, you may have the following symptoms:

  • Non-functioning programs
  • Pop-up error screens
  • The blue screen of death
  • Poor performance

The typical user is often puzzled when they discover their computer has a Windows registry problem. If this describes your reaction, here are the five most common ways to cause a Windows registry error:

1. Improper Shutdowns
To increase speed and efficiency, the Windows registry is read into system memory as the computer boots. During use, it continues to update the registry in memory as keys and values are changed. This memory is considered temporary storage, and the changes aren’t written to the permanent disc until the system is shutdown.

If you have a power failure or a system crash, the CPU doesn’t have time to complete this process. Most of the time, you’ll be fine, but a damaged registry is always a potential problem when this happens. This is the primary reason the experts recommend an orderly shutdown instead of pushing the power button to turn off the computer.

2. A Fragmented Registry
As programs are uninstalled or upgraded, entries are removed from the Windows registry. Although you don’t want to hold onto unused data, this process can leave blank spaces throughout the registry. A few empty areas won’t cause much of a problem at first, but over the course of time, the Windows registry can become fragmented making the entire system run slow.

Some people go overboard when they discover the number of free programs that are floating around the Internet. Although there are plenty of useful applications in the mix, you might have to try several before you find that golden piece of software. It’s a good practice to uninstall any code you’re not going to use, but this trial-and-error method of finding a new program can quickly result in a fragmented registry and a sluggish computer.

3. Viruses and Malware
The reason it’s next to impossible to manually remove viruses and malicious code from a computer is that the sneaky developers behind these electronic infections know how to take full advantage of the Windows registry. These programs often embed entries within the core settings of the registry reserved for the operating system to make them hard to find and even harder to remove. The registry errors that result vary from frequent shutdowns and unexpected results to an unusable system.

4. Orphaned Entries
Those pesky blank spaces can cause your computer to slow down, but orphaned keys can be an even bigger problem. If the uninstall process doesn’t work just right, an unwanted program may leave traces behind in the registry. Sometimes, this is just an error. At other times, it’s on purpose. Free trials often leave registry entries behind on purpose so that you can’t simply uninstall and reinstall the program to get more free usage.

A few of these keys might not cause a problem, but they can build up just like the blank spaces. As their numbers grow, so do the chances for problems, errors, and an unstable system.

5. Multiple Entries
Many install wizards aren’t smart enough to reuse space during a reinstall or upgrade. Instead, they add new entries to the registry and leave the old ones hanging around. Intermittent problems can be caused when the program becomes confused by the multiple entries. Even if this doesn’t happen, this clutter can slow down your system.

The Solution
Some users become so frustrated with registry errors and slow performance that they decide to purchase a new computer. Others restore the computer to its out-of-the-box state using the original system discs. Using a registry fix program on a regular basis to keep the database in peak condition is a more reasonable solution to this common problem. This type of maintenance can result in a system that performs like new for years.