Registry Mechanic 8.0 is a Windows Registry cleaner from PC Tools, designed to improve PC performance by cleaning and optimising your PC's Registry.

For the uninitiated, the Windows Registry is a complex database that stores settings and options for your PC's operating system.

Within the Registry is information and settings for all hardware, software and user settings. If the Registry contains broken entries, or is simply cluttered, PC performance will suffer.

Registry Mechanic 8.0 aims to solve Registry problems, eliminating crashes, slowdowns and error messages. It does this by scanning for and repairing invalid Registry entries, and tuning the database so everything works efficiently. Click here to download Registry Mechanic.

If that sounds complex, it is. (The first thing they teach you in tech journalism school is: 'if you're not sure what you're doing, you must never, EVER mess with the Registry.')

Fortunately, PC Tools says Registry Mechanic 8.0 is 'designed with simplicity and functionality in mind', and the user interface is indeed clean and easy to follow. You get smart updates and customer support for a year after purchase.

Registry Mechanic 8.0: 'extras'

System Optimizer is one simple feature of Registry Mechanic. In essence it switches off startup programs that aren't required. You know, the kind of things Microsoft just assumes everyone wants to have running from the start - network printing for example, is unnecessary if you're not on a network. We like System Optimizer - it's intuitive and works well.

Registry Mechanic 8.0 has plenty of such features, some as useful System Optimizer, others not so much. Windows Management Tools, for example, seems a little pointless. In essence, it's the Windows Control Panel, plus Ctrl-Alt-Del, Task Manager, but with PC Tools branding.

But cleaning the Registry is RM8's raison d'etre, and boy, does it clean a Registry. For your peace of mind Registry Mechanic 8.0 also backs up the Registry each time it makes changes.

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Registry Mechanic 8.0 is a Windows Registry cleaner from PC Tools, designed to improve PC performance by cleaning and optimising your PC's Registry.

Registry Mechanic 8.0: on test

We installed Registry Mechanic 8.0 on a cluttered Vista machine we use for software testing. Click here to download Registry Mechanic.

Our Vista PC had undergone a significant number of software installations (complete installs and aborted installs) so the Registry wasn't in a great state. It was running only Microsoft OneCare for security, and no other cleaners such as Spybot or CCleaner. In other words, our test system was ripe for Registry Mechanic 8.0.

Measuring the performance of a Registry cleaner is something of a dark art. There are so many variables. But here's the bottom line: after running Registry Mechanic 8.0 - scanning, fixing and rebooting - our Vista PC was noticeably faster at opening applications. It was also more stable. And the whole process was beautifully simple. Job done.

Although our Vista PC didn't suffer system performance issues when RM was running, one XP machine on which we also installed Registry Mechanic 8.0 seemed to slow down when we constantly ran it in the background.

The XP problems could be down to the PC rather than RM, however. Our test XP machine had 178MB of RAM, which should be sufficient to run RM, according to PC Tools' minimum specifications (128MB). However, our tests suggest older PCs running RM at the same time as a resource-hungry security suite may experience performance problems. PCs with a larger complement of RAM are unlikely to be affected.

Despite the performance issues, our ageing XP PC's Registry was much healthier after Registry Mechanic 8.0's ministrations

There is a free trial of RM8 that will scan your system, but fixes problems in only six sections of the Registry.

Registry Mechanic 8.0: Specs

  • Windows 2000 SP4/XP (Home and Pro) SP21/Vista
  • 300MHz CPU
  • 128MB RAM
  • 12MB of free hard disk space
  • Super VGA 800 x 600 video adaptor
  • internet access is required to register product and receive product updates
  • Windows 2000 SP4/XP (Home and Pro) SP21/Vista
  • 300MHz CPU
  • 128MB RAM
  • 12MB of free hard disk space
  • Super VGA 800 x 600 video adaptor
  • internet access is required to register product and receive product updates

OUR VERDICT

Registry Mechanic 8.0 is intuitive, packed full of features and is an excellent Registry cleaner. Whether that's worth £29 of your money when PC Advisor Downloads has lots of free Registry cleaners will depend on how comfortable you are using such clunky shareware and open-source programs, and whether you need RM8's extra features. Registry Mechanic offers the best option for those seeking peace of mind and ease of use.

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