The Windows registry manages everything on your PC — all the settings for the operating system, hardware, user profiles, and software. It is both important and delicate, akin to any real-life database. Any wrong move you perform in it can have a cascading effect.

Just like a real-life database needs to be updated from time to time to remove superfluous and wrong entries, the registry in Windows could do with semi-regular maintenance. Prolonged system usage including installations and uninstallations, updates and upgrades, and hardware changes, eventually litters the registry with scores, if not hundreds or thousands, of unused keys.

This guide explains what the registry is and why periodic maintenance may be a good idea. You will also learn how to clean up the registry in Windows 10.

How the Registry Works in Windows 10

The registry in Windows hasn’t changed much throughout the different versions of the operating system. It still functions as the system’s configurations and settings storage center. It records every change made by and on systems and apps on the PC. Moreover, it tracks resource usage.

Everything from desktop and taskbar changes to theme and background changes is stored in the registry. Any changes you make when using an app that uses the registry is saved in that database as well. In short, the registry is constantly updated and modified according to the operations being carried out on your computer.

The registry has a hierarchical organization in much the same way as anyone manages their files in folders. In the registry, hives contain keys which keep subkeys that contain values. The values are individual information, configurations, and settings for the users, system, and hardware.

Do I Need a Registry Cleaner for Windows 10?

While it is tempting to answer this question in the negative angle, the truth is that it depends more on your individual situation. On newer computers, whether to clean the registry isn’t a question you should be dealing with yet. However, if you have already got plenty of mileage out of your PC, then, yes, you may need to run a registry scan to remove accumulated clutter.

Most registry entries are created when you install or use apps and programs. The more programs you use, the more keys are added to the registry. Each time you uninstall one of these programs, the program files, shortcuts, links, and registry keys need to be removed as well. However, some of these keys are left behind. After all, the built-in uninstallation tool in Windows isn’t powerful enough to delete residual files every time.

Over a long period, and if you don’t use a third-party uninstaller, these empty keys can accumulate, taking up valuable registry space. They can also cause conflicts with installed programs and glitches when Windows thinks their associated programs are still on the machine.

This is why it is worth cleaning the registry every now and then. By doing so, you are preemptively taking action against possible registry errors. You can even get the bonus of a noticeable system performance improvement.

That said, the type of registry cleaner you select for this task is something to consider carefully. It won’t do to carelessly use a registry tool and let it delete everything it discovers. It might remove important keys that the system needs to function optimally.

What Is the Best Registry Cleaner for Windows 10?

Invariably, if you are hell bent on cleaning up your registry, you would want to know the best products in the market for this. Your enthusiasm for the task is no use if you install a bad program that makes a complete mess of things. You may even start to regret your choice.

Registry cleaners are a delicate topic because of the importance of the Windows component they target. As explained earlier, the registry is not somewhere to faff around with or add and remove things haphazardly. You should be on the lookout for a software that has a proven track record in bringing all the benefits of cleaning the registry with little of the risks.

A good registry cleaner should, at minimum, have an option to back up your current registry configuration before any changes are made. With this, you can be more assured of an escape plan if the cleanup doesn’t work out as planned.

Another thing to watch out for is the option to only scan and clean safe areas of the registry. Some parts of the registry contain very important keys and carelessly removing them can, at worst, turn your PC into a piece of expensive metal. Your chosen registry software should have a toggle to limit action to only safe areas. Of course, if you are the daring sort, you can still go all out and clean everywhere in the registry.

The option to select or deselect individual keys to repair is also nice to have. After a scan, you may wish to retain certain keys associated with certain programs, even if the software lists them as “errors”. You should be able to do this easily or else you probably need a new registry cleaner.

One software for cleaning the registry that ticks all the boxes above is Auslogics Registry Cleaner. It is tested and trusted by experts to find and remove problematic registry entries that might be causing those glitches you have been trying to solve.

How to Safely Clean the Windows 10 Registry

With all that said, the efficiency of a program depends a lot on knowing the right way to use it. Even very useful software can cause problems for you if you just scan and clean haphazardly without paying attention to what you are doing. Therefore, this guide will clearly explain how to use Auslogics Registry Cleaner to carefully analyze and remove invalid registry entries and rogue keys. It will also show you how to roll back the changes made to the registry, should the cleanup create additional problems.

Install the software

Go to the Registry Cleaner download page and save the setup file to your computer. When you run the installation, select Custom Install and untick “Install Auslogics BoostSpeed” if you only want to use Registry Cleaner.

Click the “Click to Install button” to commence installing the software. Once that’s done, Registry Cleaner will be installed to your PC.

Create a Restore Point

A system restore gives you the opportunity to quickly revert changes made to the system by apps, drivers and other system programs. If you don’t like the results of an installation or a scan, you can use a restore point to return to an earlier state.

Since you are about to clean the registry, the results may not be to your liking. Hence, create a restore point before you start using Registry Cleaner.

  • Open the Start Menu, type “system” (no quotes) and select “Create a restore point” in the results.
  • Select the C drive, the one with the Windows installation, and click Create.
  • Type a name for your restore point in the “System Protection” dialog and click Create.

You now have a system snapshot that you can return to if things go south.

Select Safe Areas to Scan

Now, open Auslogics Registry Cleaner. You will see a list of categories on the left. These categories won’t be deleted or otherwise affected in any way. They are merely stand-ins for the registry keys associated with them.

The checklist contains both safe areas of the registry and important areas that don’t need to be checked right away. To ensure that the registry cleanup proceeds safely, right-click the checklist area and select “Check Safe Only”.

Go ahead and click the Scan Now button and the tool will start checking the registry for corrupt keys and other issues. If you click the Scan Now arrow instead, you have two options:

  • Scan. This option simply scans the registry and does nothing else.
  • Scan and Resolve. This option scans the registry and immediately starts fixing discovered issues.

We recommend using only the Scan option so you can have a chance to review discovered issues before the cleanup.

Review the Scan Results

Registry Cleaner will scan your PC and present the result for your review. Don’t worry about the amount of “problems” it finds or even their severity — most of them can be safely left untreated and won’t impact your PC’s stability or performance to any noticeable degree.

You can explore each category in depth to discover individual “errors” and study them. If you have some knowledge of the specific error you’re fishing for, now is a good time to dive into the subcategories. With any luck, you will find it and mark it for removal.

If you just want to eliminate broken, invalid or corrupt keys from your registry, you can go ahead and repair them all. Remember that you previously selected the option to only check safe areas so you should be fine.

Repair the Registry

Click the “Back Up Changes” button so that the tool can save your current registry configuration to the Auslogics Rescue Center. Thereafter, click the Repair button to remove all selected entries.

When the repair is done, click the “View detailed report” link to check what entries were removed from the registry. However, whether to view deleted registry items is up to you.

Bonus Tip: Restore Registry

If you have followed the steps here, you should have fixed your registry issues without any problems. On the rare occasion that something happens which you don’t like after cleaning up the registry, Auslogics Registry Cleaner provides a fast and easy way to restore your registry. Everything will go back to how it was before you applied the cleanup.

  • Launch Auslogics Registry Cleaner and select File.
  • Select Backup.
  • Right-click the registry backup and select Restore.
  • Click the Yes button to start the restoration.

With these tips, you will quickly become a pro at selecting items from your registry to clean up whenever a glitch occurs. Regular registry maintenance will help you to eliminate rogue entries, including those written by malware.