Some of us here at the lab think there needs to be a "Netologism," a new Internet word, for registry cleaners, something that encapsulates their controversial, let-the-user-beware nature. You may know the species: They generally offer a free download and/or system scan, which identifies "problems" in the Windows Registry that they will fix, if you buy the full version, which is usually around $30. If you pay up and just let it do its thing on your registry, there's a darn good chance you'll boot back up to a sick machine, or your programs will have stopped working; the registry cleaner depends on you to distinguish vital entries from rubbish, and if you aren't careful it will delete system files or some such vital organ, leaving you with a forensic investigation. Hope you made a backup!
Well, here's another one. Registry Winner--not a bad pun--that promises to scan your system and free it from the old, dangerous junk that slows it down and compromises your security. Like the others, it has a slick, colorful interface with lots of impressive custom icons, a free scan that digs up some scary-looking stuff, and lots of fix-your-system extras. Like the others, it can either clean your system or crash it, depending on how you use it.
It's free to try, but the freeware version will only fix four errors. To do the Big Job, you'll have to shell out $34.95 for the full version.