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Are there free registry cleaners?

The short answer is "yes" -- the variety of free software (also called "freeware") registry-cleaner options is pretty good. You can find commercial programs as well, but they are probably more robust that what you need. Definitely check out your freeware options first, as you might find one that does everything you need it to.

The first important point to keep in mind about freeware registry-cleaner options, is that freeware doesn't come with the same level of customer support, if any at all, that you'd expect for software you've actually purchased. The site from where you download the freeware will tell you how often the author or developer of the freeware updates the product. You'll see the kinds of support materials you'll get with your initial download and learn what sorts of user forums exist to help you use that specific freeware. You can also find user reviews of various freeware. Fortunately, the reviews aren't just from the casual user, but from real tech-geeks, as well. If you do an online search for "freeware" and "registry cleaner," you'll probably find more options that you can peruse. Finally, make sure that the freeware provides you with a General Public License (GNU), so you know you can use it for free.

When comparing your various registry-cleaning options, make sure you're looking at programs that are designed specifically for your operating system. Since the entire purpose of the registry cleaner is to clean up the registry file created by your operating system, compatibility is more critical than ever. Also learn about the different features available, as not all freeware will offer the same range. For example, some cleaning programs dig deeper into the registry file than others. Furthermore, some programs clean up more than just your registry; for instance, they may look for temp files, duplicate files and other unnecessary files. Some may also offer additional options, such as disk cleanup, start-up manager, and process manager.