Fix Slow Laptop Speeds: Do Registry Cleaners Work?

by Rod Dunne on July 13, 2011

in Performance

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Registry cleaners and system optimizers often claim to be able to improve slow laptop performance by running a scan and tuning the registry file. In this article I’ll explain how these tools work on what sort of gains can be expected.

Your Windows registry file contains configuration information for all users and applications running on the system. This data can quickly become out of date when shared settings are overwritten or modified during normal operations. Sometimes it can be due to applications being installed which reset specific shared keys.

The goal of most registry cleaners is to identify specific faults:

  • Missing key settings
  • Missing folder references
  • Faulty key settings leading to incorrect use of device drivers/hardware
  • Faulty key settings leading to poor software performance (e.g. XP slow startup performance can often be due to trying to invoke programs that were already uninstalled).

So what kinds of gains can you expect?

Results can vary from system to system but generally the results will only be marginal (maybe up to 10% improvement). It really gets higher than this is your systems constrained by the hardware specification (amount of RAM/CPU/available free space on the hard drive).

For the majority of users who run Windows update on a regular basis and keep their computer free of viruses then there are relatively few issues with the registry file itself. As a result, the performance gains that these applications can make only involve specific tools or piece of hardware such as your modem (i.e. Internet speeds may be slightly improved by some performance tweaks).

In comparison to other methods (see below) using registry cleaners for improving slow laptop performance should be done in addition to other PC checks. In particular the following will probably have a greater effect:

  • Run Disk Cleanup to clear out temporary files.
  • Run Disk Defragmenter to reorder data fragments on the disk (which improves file access times for all OS programs and third-party applications on a slow laptop).
  • Maintain 10% of your hard drive as free space for virtual memory.
  • Tweak the Performance options [system, advanced, performance settings] to increase the maximum paging file size and decrease the number of visual effects.
  • Run Windows update regularly along with an anti-virus scan.

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