How to Clean the Windows Registry by Hand

This minHour teaches you how to remove unnecessary entries from your Windows Registry. Keep in mind that the Registry is an extremely sensitive archive that documents every process and setting on your computer, so deleting entries from it can result in anything from minor errors to a bricked computer. Only edit the Registry if you're confident you won't remove something important.

Preparing to Clean the Registry

Understand the consequences of editing the Registry.

The Windows Registry stores information about every process, program, and setting on your computer, so removing the wrong entry can result in your computer failing to work properly.

Know the safest way to clean the Registry.

Unfortunately, cleaning the Registry by hand isn’t safe, and following the steps in this article may not result in your computer speeding up or resolving corrupted Registry entries due to the limited approach you’ll have to take. If you want to clean your Registry in an effective, thorough manner without deleting anything important, use the Registry Cleaner app instead.

Understand the process you’ll use to manually clean the Registry.

The best way to clean the Registry without using a program is by placing your computer in Safe Mode. This will prevent other programs from interfering with your cleaning, becoming corrupted, or making changes to your computer.

Uninstall any programs you don’t need.

Before you can begin cleaning out the Registry, try removing the programs you no longer want to use:

  • Open Start
  • Click Settings.
  • Click Apps.
  • Select a program you want to uninstall.
  • Click Uninstall.
  • Follow any uninstall prompts.

Back up your computer

If you accidentally corrupt your computer’s Registry, you may need to restore your operating system from a backup.

Back up the Registry.

To do so:

  • Open the Registry Editor by typing regedit into Start and then clicking regedit.
  • Click File in the top-left corner.
  • Click Export… in the drop-down menu.
  • Enter a name for your Registry backup.
  • Check the “All” box on the left side of the window.
  • Click Save.
  • Wait for the Registry to finish exporting (this can take several minutes, and the Registry Editor may freeze).

Entering Safe Mode

Open Start.

Click the Windows logo in the bottom-left corner of the screen.

Click the “Power” icon.

It’s in the lower-left corner of the Start menu. A pop-up menu will appear.

Hold down ⇧ Shift while clicking Restart.

You’ll find in the pop-up menu. Do not stop holding down ⇧ Shift until instructed to do so.

Release ⇧ Shift when the blue screen appears.

Once the screen turns blue, you can release the ⇧ Shift key.

Click Troubleshooting.

It’s in the middle of the screen.

Click Advanced Options.

You’ll find this next to an icon that resembles a set of tools.

Click Startup Settings.

It’s in the middle of the screen.

Click Restart.

You’ll find this at the bottom of the screen.

Select the “Safe Mode with Networking” option.

Press the key that corresponds with the number to the left of the “Safe Mode with Networking” prompt (usually the key) to do so. Your computer will restart into Safe Mode, after which point you’re free to begin cleaning out the Registry.

Opening the Registry Editor

Open Start.

Click the Windows logo in the bottom-left corner of the screen.

Search for the Registry Editor.

Type in regedit to do so.

Click regedit.

It’s at the top of the Start menu.

Click Yes when prompted.

Doing so opens the Registry Editor program.

Cleaning the Registry

Expand the “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE” folder.

Click the icon to the left of the folder, which is in the upper-left side of the window, to do so.

Expand the “SOFTWARE” folder.

You’ll find a list of folders related to your installed programs in here.

Find a folder for an unused program.

Since the only files you can safely delete are ones pertaining to programs you’ve already uninstalled, you’ll want to find a folder that matches the name or company of a program you no longer use.

  • You may have to expand the folder of a company (e.g., “Adobe”) to see a list of related program folders.

Right-click the folder.

Doing so prompts a drop-down menu.

Click Delete.

It’s in the drop-down menu.

Click Yes when prompted.

Doing so deletes the Registry entry.

Repeat this process for other programs you recognize.

Once you’re finished deleting the folders of programs you’ve already removed, you can proceed.

Close the Registry and restart your computer.

Click the in the top-right corner of the Registry Editor, then restart your computer from the “Power”  menu. Once your computer finishes restarting, it will be back in regular mode, and your Registry’s changes will be saved.

Using the Registry Cleaner App

Install the Registry Cleaner app.

This app can help guide you through cleaning your Registry by scanning for corrupted or unnecessary files, determining which ones are safe to remove, and removing them as needed. To install it, do the following:

  • Go to in your computer’s web browser.
  • Click Download now.
  • Double-click the downloaded setup file.
  • Click Yes when prompted.
  • Click Click to install.
  • Uncheck the offered software’s box and click Decline (you may have to do this several times).
  • Wait for the app to finish installing.

Open the Registry Cleaner.

Click once the Registry Cleaner finishes installing, then click when prompted.

Click Settings.

It’s a tab at the top of the window. A drop-down menu will appear.

Make sure “Back Up Changes” is checked.

In the drop-down menu, you’ll see a “Back Up Changes” option which should have a checkmark to the left of it. If this option isn’t checked, click it to check it.

Click Scan Now.

This option is at the bottom of the window. Registry Cleaner will begin scanning your Registry for bad entries. When the results display, you can proceed.

Click Repair.

It’s at the bottom of the window. Doing so causes Registry Cleaner to remove any unnecessary or corrupted entries.

  • This can take anywhere from a few minutes to over an hour depending on how bloated your Registry is.

Restore your Registry settings if necessary.

If your computer begins acting different or displaying errors for normal processes, you can restore your Registry by doing the following:

  • Click File.
  • Click Rescue Center.
  • Select the most recent backup.
  • Click Restore.


  • If your computer begins acting odd or malfunctioning after cleaning the Registry, you can restore the Registry backup you created by opening the Registry Editor, clicking File, clicking Import…, and selecting the backup file.


  • Editing the Registry is not recommended for the majority of users since one wrong move can damage your computer.

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