Registry cleaners can keep your PC humming like new, if used with caution. Used carelessly, they can do more than make existing problems worse; they can create new ones, ranging in severity from nuisance to total catastrophe. Some of the tools we've tested do a better job than others in excluding things that shouldn't be changed, and they're free, too. Take WinMend's Registry Defrag, for example. Its Registry defragmentation and cleanup utilities are designed to be safe and reliable.
Registry cleaners tend to have simple, colorful interfaces that pare the user experience down to the essentials. Registry Defrag's is no exception, with three tabs, two of which are labeled Our Products and About Us. The defrag tool tab has just two controls, Analyze, which starts the tool, and Registry Information, which offers a more detailed view of the Registry in a pop-up window. The process takes three steps: Analyze, Review, and Defrag. The tool's Registry scan is thorough and takes a bit longer than some similar tools we've tested, but it delivered similar results, with before-and-after bitmaps and disk statistics showing reclaimed space. Clicking Report opened our Web browser with a locally hosted Web page displaying a more detailed summary of the scan, an interesting touch. After rebooting, our system seemed to perform better, but what matters most is that nothing seemed to have gone wrong as a result of the changes Registry Defrag made.
There's no reason to pay for a Registry optimizer or cleaner or whatever it's called when free tools like WinMend's Registry Defrag are around. It's thorough but safe and easy to use.