Registry Mechanic v3

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, January 2005
Published by: WinGuides
Requires: Microsoft Windows 95 through XP, 5MB avilable hard disk space, 16MB RAM, Intel Pentium or faster processor or equivalant
MSRP: $19.95 (single user license)

Registry Mechanic v2.1 is a deceptively simple utility designed to analyze the complex Windows registry file, determine which entries are inaccurate, redundant or obsolete, then either remove all the offending entries automatically or present you with a list from which you can pick and choose items to repair.

I know what you're thinking (especially if you're a typical computer user). Why mess with the registry file? After all, aren't there innumerable warnings out there about how easy it is to mess up your computer by fussing with the registry? But that's only reason enough to keep well enough away from the registry unless you can get your mitts on a handy utility specifically designed to analyze and edit the thing.

For the totally uninitiated, the Windows registry is nothing more than a data file which resides on your boot drive. The file contains plain text entries which the operating system and all of your installed programs and drivers read to find out how they should act, how they should interact with each other and how they should interact with you, your network, peripherals, the Internet and so on. It's an incredibly detailed pile of data, which if tampered with in the wrong way can render your computer useless (or at least impossible to boot). The old adage "use the right tool for the job" is nowhere more applicable. Enter Registry Mechanic.


Useless junk in the registry gets there in the first place because of programs which create entries in the registry. When those programs are uninstalled, they often don't clean out all of their registry entries. Occasionally, an active program will write some configuration data to the registry incorrectly. Parts of the registry can become corrupt because of operating system errors. Installation routines sometime leave 'temporary' registry entries behind because some programmer got lazy. In other words, there are a whole host of reasons why registries become messy. The mess in and of itself does not usually prevent your computer from working, but rather tends to cause the operating system and installed programs to waste time looking through invalid registry entries in search of instructions and rules for operation. Non-existent or uninstalled device drivers (after an upgrade for example) sometimes leave registry entires behind which can add ridiculous amounts of time to your computer's boot and shut down cycle.

Several software solutions exist for analyzing the Windows registry, but the buzz about Registry Mechanic has been very good indeed. So we decided to use it as part of a new system maintenance routine in a busy property management office. Thanks go to Reitter Management for allowing us to abuse their computers (on and off) for a couple of months. We also tried Registry Mechanic on a Windows XP Home machine being used daily by one of our teenagers.

Reitter Management runs a combination of Windows 95, Windows 98 and XP Professional workstations, all of which are exceedingly busy, none of which see a new program installed more often than once per month. Since none of the machines had ever received the benefit of a registry clean out, and since all of the machines had been around since 1997 (with a few upgrades over the years), we anticipated and got a rude surprise after installing and running Registry Mechanic with all its scanning flags set on one of Reitter's Windows 98SE computers—431 invalid registry entries! The teenager's machine (a Windows 98 machine upgraded to Windows XP Home) was just a mess—just under 1,200 errors.

So what, you say? If the machines are running fine, who cares about registry errors? The plain truth is that machines which appear to be running fine in their usual environment are often running well below peak performance when compared to other machines running more efficiently in more technically aware environments. So after installing Registry Mechanic on one of the Pentium II/266MHz machines at Reitter Management (and getting the aforementioned pile of errors), we simply clicked the Repair button. The repair process - Registry Mechanic literally deletes all the offending entries - takes only a few seconds.

We rebooted the machine and asked the person who normally uses it to have a seat and watch the boot process. The first noticeable improvement was the boot time which dropped from two and half minutes to approximately 70 seconds. The second improvement was program loading - Microsoft Word 2000 and Excel 2000 both started significantly faster (maybe it was the removal of 7 different printer driver registry entries for printers no longer in use?). As an added maintenance measure we installed a brand new copy of Diskeeper 8 and defragmented the hard drive. The effect of defragmentation combined with Registry Mechanic's thorough clean up, resulted in a user who was much happier with his computer (who had previously been complaining about the need for a faster machine).

In terms of real-world benefits, as opposed to technical improvements, the user of that particular computer has shaved about half an hour off his daily computer time and reduced the minor stress due to irritating wait times for boot up, printing, system reaction and program launch. Clicking "Print" in Outlook, Word or Excel calls the dialog instantly rather than after a 5-10 second delay. Quite frankly, a Pentium II/266MHz computer is far more than fast enough for the vast majority of office uses, and the fact that it was nearly scheduled for replacement is indicative of how much unnecessary buying goes on in some offices. Spend twenty bucks on Registry Mechanic rather than $1,000 on a new computer? Yes - sometimes yes.

Cons: There is one particular function in Registry Mechanic which scares some users: Automatically Repair All Errors. When that setting is checked, life is easy. When that setting is not checked, Registry Mechanic will do its scan and then present you with a list of registry errors through which you can manually browse and select for removal. But if the individual entries are meaningless to you, the degree of insecurity experienced with respect to what (or what not) to check is significant. For most people at home or in offices where regular registry cleanups are mandatory and part of a regular system of computer maintenance, the best setting is Automatically Repair All Errors.

Pros: Fast operation; even large registries (on computers with 50-60 installed programs in addition to the operating system) required only a few minutes of analysis and clean up. Registry Mechanic along with any good quality disk defragmentation utility should become part of your monthly computer maintenance at home or work. When performed regularly, the chances of file save errors, boot problems, file access problems, general system slow downs and other problems are greatly reduced. In addition, regular computer maintenance using Registry Mechanic keeps you familiar with your computer's general operational status, which is a good thing under any circumstances. Easy to use. Highly recommended.

KSN Product Rating:




© Copyright 2000-2007 All rights reserved. legal notice
home | previous reviews | forums | about us | search | store | subscribe


Forums Search Home Previous Reviews About Us Store Subscribe