How to Fix the Windows Registry

The Windows registry is both intimidating and intriguing. Settings stored in the registry are very sensitive. Many of them could cause serious disruptions in your computer if they are changed incorrectly. Regardless, there’s a lot of talk about “Windows registry repair” and “cleaning the registry”. Registry cleaning programs promise faster and more user-friendly computers. Is there really a Windows registry fix that can do this, and is it really safe?

Windows registry contains an enormous amount of settings. Hardware configurations and drivers that need to be loaded to compliment them are stored there. In addition, you’ll find seemingly endless keys associated with the operating system that instructs it on starting up. These settings tell it everything from how to load your desktop, to what background image should appear when it does load. What could a magical Windows registry fix do to improve on these settings? The answer lies in software that is installed on your computer and how that software is stored in the Windows registry.

When programs are installed on your computer, most of them add keys to your registry. This is the reason why you need a special “uninstall” program or option to be able to successfully remove these programs from your computer. Deleting a program will remove the folders from your “Program Files” folder, but not the entries that apply to it in the Windows registry. It’s also possible that an uninstall didn’t operate correctly due to interference on your computer or a flaw in the uninstall program. Other factors can also cause duplicate keys in the registry or otherwise extra “junk” that clogs up your Windows registry and can cause your computer to run significantly slower. Malicious programs have been known to attack the Windows registry, since they can change settings in their favor, and also make it difficult for the average user to find the malicious program in the registry and delete it.

When your computer starts it needs to run through the registry so that it knows what to do and which settings to apply. If your registry is cluttered with duplicate entries, keys that are no longer needed, or malicious programs that take up a lot of memory and processing power, that’s more items that the computer needs to load. This results in increased time for your computer to boot into Windows. A similar process happens when the computer shuts down, which can explain slow, frustrating shut down times. So how do you repair Windows registry in this case? Luckily there are a couple of options available to fix Windows registry when it starts to get bogged down.

Windows Registry Repair Using System Restore

The system restore utility is pre-installed in Windows and is very easy to use. This wizard takes a “snapshot” of the essential settings of your computer and restores those settings on your command. Windows creates its own restore points at certain intervals, but you can also create your own restore point. It’s best to do this if you are making a major change to settings on your computer, especially in the Windows registry.

To access the system restore utility, open up your Start menu and navigate to “Programs”, “Accessories” and then “System Tools”. Click on “System Restore”. Here the wizard lets you choose whether you want to create a restore point or restore your computer to a previous working version. If you are looking to repair Windows registry, choose to restore your computer to a previous date and click “Next”. You are prompted to choose a restore point, which are shown by the date they were created on. Choose a date, click “Next” and your computer will restore and reboot itself.

Fix Windows Registry with a Registry Cleaner

There are a number of programs available that allow you to clean up the Windows registry without having to know much about it. These programs will scan the Registry to find files that are duplicated, no longer in use, malicious or otherwise keeping your computer from running at peak capacity. This isn’t a miracle Windows registry fix, however. There are many programs available and it’s important to find one that is trusted. Some programs are not intelligent enough to identify all of the required registry entries and may end up deleting an important entry, creating entries that aren’t needed or beneficial or otherwise completely reverse your Windows registry repair efforts.

Repair Windows Registry Manually

If you know what to look for in the registry, such as a malicious program or a program that didn’t fully remove itself from your computer, then you can go into the registry and manually remove or modify the entries there. Be warned that this is incredibly dangerous and you should always take great care in modifying the registry in any way. Prior to making any registry modifications, backup the branch of the registry you will be changing so that you can perform a Windows registry recovery if needed.

Once you are prepared to edit the registry, you can do so using the Windows registry editor, REGEDIT. You can launch the Windows registry editor by typing “regedit” in the “Run” dialog in your Start menu. With this command REGEDIT should pop up. From here you can navigate through the various keys to find the entry you would like to modify. In addition, you can search the registry for a certain word or filename by pressing “Ctrl” and “F” simultaneously on your keyboard, or clicking “Find” in the “Edit” menu.

Learn More

A computer that is running slowly or is unstable can be incredibly frustrating. Make sure before jumping into the registry that you explore all possible options for what could be making it perform insufficiently. You can also visit the links below if you want to learn more about Windows registry repair first.

Windows 7 Features: System Restore

How to recover from a corrupted registry that prevents Windows XP from starting

The Windows Registry

I Have a Corrupted Registry – How Can it Be Corrected?