How to Clean the Windows 10/8.1 Registry

By: John Nedelcu
7 minute read

We all know that in order to keep our Windows 8, Windows 10 computers running smooth and fast, we have to do regular maintenance and clean the files that are left over. Even if Windows 8, Windows 10 is much faster than previous versions of Windows, it too has some problems after a while, and it requires some cleaning.

Although cleaning leftover files in Windows 8, Windows 10 can be easily done with CCleaner, Advanced SystemCare PRO, and other similar tools, there are other places than need a good once-over. For instance, the Registry. Everything that we install on Windows, regardless of what version, creates registry entries, and after a while they keep piling up.

What is the Windows 8, Windows 10 Registry, and how to clean it?

Your registry holds all sorts of important information, but sometimes it might need some cleaning. In this article we’ll cover the following issues related to Windows registry:

  • Best free registry cleaner – There are many great registry cleaners, and in this article we’ll mention a couple of great free tools that can help you clean your registry.
  • Clean registry with CCleaner, Revo Uninstaller – Many users tend to use third-party tools such as CCleaner or Revo Uninstaller to clean their registry. These tools allow you to clean your registry, but they can also remove junk files from your PC.
  • Clean registry errors – Many users reported certain errors after cleaning their registry. To avoid any additional problems with your PC, it’s always advised to back up your registry before making any changes.
  • Clean registry to speed up computer – If you tend to install various apps on your PC, your registry might get filled with unused entries. This might cause your PC to slow down, and in order to speed it up it’s advised to clean your registry.
  • Clean registry of uninstalled programs – Uninstalled programs will often leave certain entries in your registry that can slow down your PC. To fix this issue, it’s advised to clean your registry and remove any leftover entries.
  • Portable registry cleaner – Sometimes installing additional software isn’t an option, especially if you don’t have administrative privileges on the PC. However, there are many great portable registry cleaners available that you can run from a USB flash drive.
  • Clean registry and junk files – In addition to cleaning your registry, it’s also important to clean the junk files. Many tools can clean both your registry and junk files, and they are a perfect solution if you want to keep your PC running smooth.

Basically, registry entries are the footprints of everything you do on your computer. Every installed program, every webpage opened, every change you make creates a registry entry. You can imagine how many of these registry entries exist if you consider that each and every operation you do on your computer makes its own registry entry.

The issue here is that these registry entries keep piling up, and Windows usually forgets to delete the ones that are no longer used, so over time, they can grow to huge numbers, gravely affecting the performance of your computer. Same issues can occur with junk files, and if your computer is slowing down, you might want to check out some of these tools to delete junk files that we reviewed recently.

We also recommend you to download this tool (100% safe and tested by us) to scan and fix various PC problems, such as file loss, malware and hardware failure. It will also check your registry for errors.


Why do we have to clean the registry

While registry keys occupy next to nothing on our hard drives, they do however make up for it in sheer numbers, and after some time of running Windows 8, Windows 10 and installing and uninstalling programs and app, you end up with hundreds or thousands of registry entries that are completely useless.

The operating system still filters through all of them, even if they are not used any more, and this process burdens it, as I’m sure everyone of you has seen at one point when you open a folder that has hundreds of files, or when you copy multiple files.

We can clearly see that even with all the upgrades and improvements, Windows 8, Windows 10 can’t still manage file systems that have a huge number of files. This is probably due more to hardware limitations than to the software, but even so, we can make it better. By cleaning the registry, you can get rid of those unwanted entries, and therefor, make your entire system faster.


A few words of advice

Before we begin explaining how to clean your Windows 8, Windows 10 registry, a word of advice: be very careful if you delete anything. If you don’t know what you are doing, then there is a big possibility that your programs and operating system will no longer work properly. Follow these guidelines at your own risk. We recommend creating a Restore Point before beginning and also, create a backup of your registry as it is, before you start deleting entries.

Also, make sure that there are no running programs on your computer. Close everything except the registry cleaning utility before you begin. Active programs create and modify registry entries, so they might interfere with the scan or they might even become damaged.

Also, while the scan or the repair process is running, don’t interfere in any way with the computer. Even a simple rename of a folder or a moved shortcut creates a registry entry, and might compromise the entire process.

Some registry cleaning programs asses the risk of each registry and tell which of them are safe to modify or clean. Keep in mind to select only those that the program says, and do not select any of the registry entries that are marked as risky to modify. Also, if the registry utility that you use has an auto-delete feature, be sure to disable it. It is better that you have control over what entries should be deleted.

After the scan is complete, everything should be running smoothly, but if this isn’t the case, and certain software doesn’t work any more, you should immediately restore the registry as it was before you modified it. If the problem persists, you should use the restore point you created before starting to revert to the original state of the registry.


How to clean Windows 8, Windows 10 registry

There are a number of solutions to this problem, and we will show you exactly how to clean the Windows 8, Windows 10 registry, so you can benefit from the speed that your operating system is capable of. There are two ways in which you ca do this: with the default Windows 8, Windows 10 tools or with a third party software that is dedicated to cleaning the registry of your computer.

We’ll be taking a look at both of these methods and we will present each method, so you can use which one seems best for you. Also, keep in mind that some registry entries that are still in use can get damaged, and a third party software can sometimes fix them, so there is one advantage of using this method.


Cleaning the Windows 8, Windows 10 Registry with Registry Editor

The Registry Editor is the Windows default tool for viewing and modifying the registry. However, this manual search is very time consuming and filtering through the thousands of entries can be quite hard. Nevertheless, for those who want to take matters into their own hands, here’s how to do it.

To open Registry Editor, you need to do the following:

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter regedit.
    Best free registry cleaner
  2. Now press Enter or click OK.
    Clean registry with CCleaner

Alternatively, you can just use the Search bar by doing the following:

  1. Click the Search bar and enter regedit. You can also open the Search bar by using Windows Key + S shortcut.
    Clean registry and junk files
  2. Select regedit from the list of results.
    Clean registry with Revo Uninstaller

Before you clean your registry, it’s advised to back it up. Removing certain entries from the registry can cause various problems to appear, therefore be sure to back up your registry beforehand. To do that, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Go to File > Export.
    Clean registry to speed up computer
  2. Now select All as Export range. Enter the desired file name, choose a safe location and click on Save.
    Clean registry of uninstalled programs

If any issues occur after you modify your registry, you can simply run the file you just created in order to restore the registry to its original state.

The best way to do this is search for registry entries of software that you have uninstalled. Using the left side navigation panel, go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER and then to Software.

Clean registry errors

Here, you will find a list of everything that is installed on your computer. Look for programs that you’ve uninstalled, and if you find any, simply select them and hit the Delete button on your keyboard. Also, you can use the Ctrl+F shortcut to search for a specific entry.

Portable registry cleaner

If you decide to go down this road, then you have to be very careful, as once you’ve deleted a registry entry, it stays deleted. There is no undo option here, so be very careful. If something does go wrong, you can backup the registry with the file that you created before you begun.


Third Party Registry Cleaning Software for Windows 10, Windows 8

Clean registry errors

If cleaning the Windows 8, Windows 10 registry manually seems like a daunting task (and believe me, it is), you might feel more comfortable using a third party software. There a lots of such tools over the web, and like with everything else, some are better than others.

Just remember to clean the registry of your Windows 8, Windows 10 computer about once or twice a month. If you need additional registry cleaner tools, be sure to check out our list of best registry cleaners for Windows 10.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2013 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


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