Are Registry Cleaners a Good Idea?

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You have likely been alerted by popups while browsing the web. These, often flashing, advertisements claim your computer has more than a thousand errors requiring urgent attention to fix. Helpfully, these popups offer a solution to cure your computer with a mouse click. Buttons marked “fix now” appear to provide a simple fix to all your computer troubles.

These advertisements are often described as Registry Cleaners or by a few other names that attempt to convince the user they will somehow clean or improve their home PC. Within the IT industry, they are known as “scareware.” They are software designed to convince you that your computer has problems it might not have.

Are they trustworthy?

Almost all popups and advertisements that use banners saying “Fix now for free” are untrustworthy. They are little more than a scam attempting to take your credit card details, PC data, or both. At best, these programs might claim to scan your computer and show a convincing list of plausible-sounding computer problems. Using this, they will ask for payment to “fix” these problems to get your PC back in shape again.

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At worst, these advertisements can be downright malicious. Some may use fake warnings and scare tactics to trick customers into installing spyware on their computers. When installed, spyware will try to steal information in the background. Attackers may use this technique to steal usernames, passwords, emails, and credit card details. Sometimes the first sign a user has that something is wrong is when a virus scan detects software doing something it shouldn’t be. 

Do I need to clean the registry?

The Windows system and various applications installed on your PC leave files stored on your computer. These files can stay behind or go out of date even after the application that initially made them has been removed. These files can use up a little space on the hard drive and generally cause minor clutter within the system.

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Despite the large amount of “scareware” and fraudulent computer cleanup scans, legitimate applications designed to clean your system do exist. This can be something we cover and is often done as a small part of a complete computer tune-up. Keeping up with out-of-date files and freeing up unused space is worthwhile and can be considered “good housekeeping.” The vast speed boosts many online advertisements claim to unlock by simply moving files around are almost always false.

The home computer, however, is commonly upgraded and can be boosted by more conventional means. If the speed of your PC is no longer up to the task, there are ways in which we can unlock far more significant gains than simple housekeeping chores.

PC Boosters

Relatively low-cost hardware components such as memory can often be added to boost the speed of an older PC and unlock a new lease of life. Upgrading the computer’s RAM can double the working memory available to the operating system. With extra memory, many programs can keep more information open to work with. This upgrade reduces loading times and increases the computer’s ability to run more programs simultaneously.

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Another standard speed-boosting upgrade involves how we store and load data from the computer. Switching from an older mechanical hard drive to a modern Solid State Disk (SSD) can reduce the startup and loading time of any PC.

Loading data from the hard drive is often the slowest part of a computer, the bottleneck in an otherwise high-speed system. Because an SSD does not use mechanical components, the time to access the disk is nearly instant compared to older, mechanical hard disks.

Safe Speed Boosts

These upgrades offer boosts in speed to rival a modern system at only a fraction of the cost initially paid for the computer. Upgrading the RAM, swapping to an SSD, or doing both will provide an instant, dramatic, and safe improvement to the speed of your PC.