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Defragment the registry to boost performance

It is well known that defragmenting the contents of the hard disk drive in the computer can speed up disk accesses slightly and hence boost the performance of Windows. Less well known is the fact that you can increase the efficiency of Windows and speed it up a bit more by defragmenting the registry. How fragmented does it get though, and how much of a speed boost can you expect? What are the pitfalls?

The registry is a sort of database and it stores the settings for Windows and for most software too. It can grow quite large and when information is deleted, such as when a program that you no longer want is uninstalled, the space it used to occupy is not recovered. It just stays there as dead space. When Windows accesses the registry, which it does almost constantly, these dead spaces just get in the way and this reduces the speed. Getting rid of them by defragmenting the registry provides a nice little speed boost.

It has to be said that the speed boost is tiny and you will not notice it unless the registry is really, really badly fragmented. Defragmenting the registry is not required very often, but if your PC is a couple of years old and you've never done it, it may be worth it. At most you'll probably only want to do this every six months though.

You will need special software to defragment the registry and any process that mucks about with the registry has a very small chance of screwing up Windows. You therefore need to have a backup of anything important before you start and you need to check the disk for errors. (Click Start, Computer then right click the disk and select Properties. Click the Tools tab and click Check Now in the Error Checking section.)

There are several registry defragmenters and PC Tools Registry Mechanic and Desktop Maestro can do the job, but sadly not in free mode. Auslogics Registry Defrag is another good shareware tool.

If you're after a free registry defragmenter, try Quicksys RegDefrag, Eusing Free Registry Defrag, iExpert Software Free Registry Defrag, and WinMend Registry Defrag.