On Computers

Registry Stuff

Jack 'daWabbit' Imsdahl, jack@oncomputers.info

14 September 2003

To a lot of people, the Windows Registry is a black hole near which they do not wish to stray. I do not count myself among these, recalling as I do the days before Windows 95, when we played endless games of "find the file" in order to correct system deficiencies or file corruption. I'm not a real registry hacker either, though. I'm glad to have the registry and I look high and low for tools that help me with registry modifications or maintenance, particularly those which safely automate these tasks. Joe, Deepak and Gail seem to feel the same, as these utilities are a frequent source of discussion.

Lest you get the wrong impression, I want to assure you that the Windows Registry, particularly in Windows 2000 Professional, along with XP Home and Professional, is not the temperamental or fragile beast it is so often enough made out to be. Like every other part of your operating system and software, though, it can often stand a bit of tweaking, a bit of help, if you will. And a backup is never out of order. But Windows in it's later incarnations is robust to the point where reliability does not bear thinking about on a day-to-day basis, provided only that the system is correctly maintained.

Reg Cleaner

For a long time; we used a tool called Reg Cleaner which removed invalid or otherwise spurious keys from the Windows registry automatically, in a safe and reliable manner, as well as do some basic registry manipulations. It was available as freeware, then. However, the author has further improved the program and now charges for it's use (30 days free use with a fully functional copy, USD $29.95 after that). While I have nothing against an author trying to profit from her or his work (especially at this reasonable price) we try to recommend as many freeware applications as we can, provided they are of sufficient quality, as we feel this is a good way to help you keep your system operations costs down. So, we're all looking for replacements for Reg Cleaner.

If you have one of the freeware copies, keep it safe because it still has utility. If you don't have a copy, I'd recommend checking out the author's site, given below.

Reg Seeker

I was looking long and hard at this one. Deepak beat me to the punch, though, and had a very disappointing experience with it. Pass it by.


I had a couple problems with ERUNT, which I'll detail later, and had put it aside until Gail urged me to take another look at it. Once I overcame an initial difficulty that turned out to be minor, it turned out to be a good, handy and easy to use utility for the registry. This is not a replacement for Reg Cleaner, but another set of tools, entirely.

ERUNT backs up the registry painlessly and well. I've backed up both our Windows machine's registries with this now and restored same, more than a few times, and it has worked flawlessly.

The download is small. Included in the 500 some kilobyte zip file are German and English instructions. Unzip it to the folder where you'll want to keep it, make the necessary shortcuts to start menu or desktop and you're ready to go. The README file is excellent and not overly long, explaining both the use of and the reason for the creation of the program. Included in the zip file are 3 utilities. ERUNT, which backs up the registry, ERDNT which restores the registry from the backup and NTREGOPT, which compresses/optimizes the registry, giving somewhat faster and more reliable operation.

Operation is straight-forward and there are only a couple options to negotiate. The README file will get you through this in style, as things are so simple. After you compress/optimize the registry, you'll have to reboot to start using the new, spiffed up copy. No reboot is necessary after backing up the registry and should you need to access the backup, this can be done from Safe Mode or from the recovery console with ease.

Now, to the problem I had with it:

It is my habit to put as many of my executables as possible on another drive than the one on which the operating system and my personal files reside. So, I unzipped this utility to D:\Program Files\ERUNT, which I had created for the purpose. The application would not run, so I put it aside.

When Gail urged me to take another crack at it, I put it in C:\ERUNT, as the README file suggests, and had no problem at all. Everything worked as advertised. The problem turned out to be specific to my machine, as I installed it both ways on Jayna's machine and had no problem at all. I am not sure what the original problem was, but it didn't show up on the other machine. I also installed and used it on a new Dell machine running XP Home and it performed flawlessly there, too. Had I paid sufficient heed to the directions or tried it on the other machine first, I'd not have had any problem at all. (I can hear Joe, Deepak and Gail laughing now.)


Macecraft Software, jv16 Power Tools, which contains Reg Cleaner



P.S. This is the program that Deepak, Jack and I mentioned that we will cover more fully in a future tips segment:

RegScrubXP 3.25

© 2003 Jack Imsdahl

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