6 Ways to Clean the Windows Registry - Make Tech Easier (2023)

Since most of us don’t dive into the registry editor often, you probably don’t have any idea if you need a registry cleanup or not. However, over time your registry collects broken, outdated, and even missing registry keys that hurt your PC’s performance. You may even get the occasional error message. With the use of Windows tools and some third-party tools, you can clean the Windows registry quickly. These methods work on Windows 11 as well as Windows 10.


  • Causes of Registry Errors
  • Back Up Your Registry
  • 1. Use Disk Cleanup
  • 2. Using DISM
  • 3. Use CCleaner
  • 4. Clean With Wise Registry Cleaner
  • 5. Use Auslogics Registry Cleaner
  • 6. Manually Clean the Registry
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Causes of Registry Errors

If you’re not experiencing any issues right now, you might not think cleaning the registry is important. But, as you install and uninstall apps and hardware, new registry entries are created. This includes Windows updates. However, they’re not always cleanly removed when you uninstall apps and hardware or make other system changes.

This leaves your PC looking for the hardware and apps that go with those keys. The more that builds up, the more likely you are to experience issues. Cleaning your registry every few months helps prevent this.

Back Up Your Registry

Before you perform a registry cleanup, it’s always a good idea to back up your registry just in case something goes wrong. While the methods on this list are usually safe, it’s better to be cautious, especially if you opt for the manual method.

  1. Press Win + R and type regedit to open Registry Editor.
  2. Select the “File” menu and choose “Export.”
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  1. Select a location and a name for your file. Also, select “All” for your export range to back up the entire registry. If you’re changing a specific branch, you can just make a backup that branch.
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It’s a good idea to store your backup on a flash drive or external hard drive just in case something does go wrong during the cleanup.

If you need to restore the backup, open Registry Editor again and select “Import” from the File menu. Select your file and you’re done.

1. Use Disk Cleanup

The simplest way to clean the Windows registry is to use the inbuilt Disk Cleanup utility, which is also great for cleaning excess files from your hard drive. It’s not for the registry, but it can finish removing leftovers from apps and drivers. When it removes these files, the corresponding registry entries are often deleted too.

Open Start and type “disk cleanup.” Select the Disk Cleanup result that appears.

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The tool runs a scan automatically. When it’s finished, click “Clean Up System Files.” The tool runs a second time, giving you some additional options to scan for.

Check any options you want. You can actually check them all. Just make sure you don’t have anything in your Recycle Bin that you want to keep first. Press OK to clean your system.

2. Using DISM

DISM, which stands for Deployment Image Servicing and Management, is a built-in Windows tool used for repairing update and system errors. It can also help repair issues related to broken registry entries. While it’s not a full registry cleaner, it can improve the health of your registry.

  1. Open Start and type cmd. Choose “Run as administrator” under Command Prompt.
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2. Enter the following at the prompt:

DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth
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The scan finds and cleans up errors. These won’t all be related to your registry. The good part is this can help your PC run better by fixing issues you didn’t even know you had.

3. Use CCleaner

CCleaner has been a popular PC cleaner for years. From deleting cookies and temporary files to helping manage startup options, it does a little bit of everything, including cleaning your registry. What’s even better is that you can make a backup of your registry before cleaning it, which is a good idea.

(Video) Do Not Use Registry Cleaners : Do This Instead

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While premium options are available, the free version is all you need. You can run the tool by right-clicking on your Recycle Bin or opening it through the Start menu.

4. Clean With Wise Registry Cleaner

Wise Registry Cleaner is a free, lightweight tool to clean the Windows registry. It offers three modes, though Fast Scan typically works best for most users.

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A premium version is available, but the free version handles almost everything you need. The premium version does offer scheduled cleaning. If you stick with the free version, just make a note to use it once every few months.

5. Use Auslogics Registry Cleaner

Auslogics Registry Cleaner has a long history of helping to keep registries cleaner. The free version provides basic scanning, which is often enough for most users. However, you can upgrade to the premium version for notifications and deeper scans and cleaning.

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You get to review all entries before deleting anything, giving you full control. However, the tool will only pick safe entries to delete.

6. Manually Clean the Registry

If you’re comfortable using the registry and know exactly what you need to remove, you may not need a registry cleanup. Manual removal of entries is a good option if you’ve installed several different programs or apps to try and want to make sure they’re not leaving traces behind in your registry.

  1. Open Registry Editor pressing Win + R and typing regedit. Confirm that you want to open Registry Editor.
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  1. Either navigate to the key you want to delete or search for related keys by right-clicking any folder and choosing “Find.” Normally, you’ll find keys related to apps and programs in the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, HKEY_CURRENT_USER, and HKEY_USERS folders.
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  1. Right-click any key or folder and select “Delete” when you find what you need to remove. The exact keys and folders will vary greatly based on what you’re trying to clean up. Remember, this is final and you can’t restore what you delete without recreating the key. Consider taking screenshots of what you’re deleting just in case you need to add the keys back.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Are registry cleaners safe to use?

Overall, registry cleaners are safe, but only use reputable cleaners. Some are just malware in disguise or they promise to speed up your PC only to slow it down, just like phone cleaner/booster apps.

If you’re not sure if a registry cleaning tool is safe, scan the URL and app download URL through VirusTotal. You can also use your favorite search engine to search for “is cleanername safe” to see how other users feel about it.

When should I clean my registry?

Most users don’t need to clean their registry often. In fact, you may never need to clean it outside of using Disk Cleanup every month or two.

If you tend to install/uninstall apps often or your system is getting progressively sluggish, it’s a good idea to clean your registry after every two or three apps you install and remove.

For instance, if I’m testing apps for Make Tech Easier, I’ll clean my registry after going through 8-10 apps in a session. Then, I don’t clean it again until I’ve tested another batch.

Is it safe to delete registry keys if they include the name of an app I've uninstalled?

Usually it is safe to do this. However, only delete registry keys if you’re certain they’re not tied to anything else on your PC. For instance, a file extension that’s associated with an app you’ve removed might also be tied to an important Windows system app or process. Overall, if you’re not certain, don’t remove an entry. It takes a lot of excess in your registry to start slowing down your computer.

Are there other ways to optimize my registry beyond cleaning it?

Absolutely. Registry hacks give you more control over your registry’s function along with making changes to your Windows experience. For instance, you can add your own options to the context menu. Try out these useful Windows registry hacks to see what you can accomplish.

(Video) Windows Registry As Fast As Possible

Image credit: Unsplash

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Crystal Crowder

Crystal Crowder has spent over 15 years working in the tech industry, first as an IT technician and then as a writer. She works to help teach others how to get the most from their devices, systems, and apps. She stays on top of the latest trends and is always finding solutions to common tech problems.

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(Video) Clean Up Windows 10 | 3 Steps For A Faster Computer


6 Ways to Clean the Windows Registry - Make Tech Easier? ›

Cleaning and optimizing your registry can help you improve your PC's speed, responsiveness, and reliability. Over time, your registry can accumulate invalid, obsolete, or redundant entries that can slow down your system, cause errors, or interfere with other programs.

What are five strategies to clean computer registries? ›

How to safely clean your Windows Registry
  1. Open the Registry Editor. On your keyboard, press the Windows. ...
  2. Create a Registry Backup. ...
  3. Clean up Program and Application Registry Entries. ...
  4. Clean up Prematurely Removed Software Registry Entries. ...
  5. Clean up Invalid Shared DLLs.
Jun 16, 2022

How do I clean up Windows registry? ›

How To Clean Registry in Windows 10 and 11
  1. Press Start and type Disk Cleanup in search bar.
  2. Click on app.
  3. Once the app opens, a window will appear, select the Windows C: drive and then click OK.
  4. After the tool completes its scan, click on Clean up system files.

Does cleaning the registry improve performance? ›

Cleaning and optimizing your registry can help you improve your PC's speed, responsiveness, and reliability. Over time, your registry can accumulate invalid, obsolete, or redundant entries that can slow down your system, cause errors, or interfere with other programs.

What is registry cleaning in computer? ›

Essentially, a registry cleaner is a tool that scans your Windows registry for registry keys that are of no use, or potentially leftover remnants of malware that has been removed. It then gives you the option of removing this dead weight in your system.

Why clean Windows registry? ›

Most people never need to touch the registry, and it is easy to do more harm than good. Today, a registry cleanup is typically only necessary as a means of mitigating system or application-related problems with no other fixes.

What are the features of registry cleaner? ›

The idea is that by cleaning the registry, you can free up disk space, speed up your PC, and prevent potential errors. Some registry cleaners also offer other features, such as backup, restore, defrag, or optimize the registry.

Is there a Windows Registry Cleaner? ›

CCleaner Professional

This advanced registry cleaner for Windows also offers a full backup option, so if you run into an issue and need to revert back to an earlier version of the registry, you can quickly restore it. CCleaner Professional is compatible with Windows 11, 10, and 8.

How do I clean a corrupted registry? ›

Here are some of the most effective methods:
  1. Run the Disk Cleanup Tool. ...
  2. Use Automatic Startup Repair. ...
  3. Run the System File Checker. ...
  4. Run the DISM Scan. ...
  5. Import a Registry Backup. ...
  6. Run CCleaner Registry Cleaner. ...
  7. Scan Your System for Malware. ...
  8. Use a System Restore Point.

What is Windows Registry and what is its purpose? ›

The Windows registry is a centralized, hierarchical database that manages resources and stores configuration settings for applications on the Windows operating system. Security account services, user interfaces, and device drivers can all use the Windows registry.

What is the most common method to edit the Windows registry? ›

To modify registry data, a program must use the registry functions that are defined in Registry Functions. Administrators can modify the registry by using Registry Editor (Regedit.exe or Regedt32.exe), Group Policy, System Policy, Registry (. reg) files, or by running scripts such as VisualBasic script files.

How does disk cleanup improve performance? ›

Disk Cleanup helps free up space on your hard disk, creating improved system performance. Disk Cleanup searches your disk and then shows you temporary files, Internet cache files, and unnecessary program files that you can safely delete.

How often should you clean your registry? ›

Why it is important to clean the Windows Registry frequently. To prevent crashes, as well as to stop the computer system from slowing down, frequent registry cleaning is very important. We recommend cleaning up the Windows Registry once every three days so that the system can perform efficiently and effectively.

What are computer registry issues? ›

The real registry errors, which indicate true problems with the registry of your computer's operating system are the serious type that can cause issues such as a missing or corrupted registry, blue screen of death, preventing Windows from booting properly, or mention that Windows can't access the registry.

How to clean registry using cmd? ›

For this, it is better to open the command line using Start.
  1. Open Start and search for cmd.
  2. On the right-hand menu, click on “Run as administrator,”now command prompt will open up with elevated permission.
  3. In the terminal window, type: dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth and click.
May 19, 2022

What is the best way to clean computer components? ›

The best thing to use to remove dust is a can of compressed air. Remove the side or front panels of the case and then use the compressed air to clear the dust from any dust filters. Any obvious collections of dust at the bottom of the case can be wiped away or, if you're very careful, a vacuum might also do the job.

What are the general guidelines for cleaning computer? ›

Use a lint-free cloth such as a screen wipe or cloth made from microfiber. Spray the cleaning solution on the cloth and then wipe the electronics. Avoid excessive wiping and do not submerge electronics in the cleaning solution. Do not use aerosol sprays, bleach or abrasive cleaners.

How to clean registry without software? ›

The best way to clean the Registry without using a program is by placing your computer in Safe Mode. This will prevent other programs from interfering with your cleaning, becoming corrupted, or making changes to your computer.


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