Registry First Aid is eager to help you fix and compact your Registry, and it does a terrific job, too.
Of all the programs we tried, Registry First Aid inspired the most confidence, both from a safety perspective and in the way it handled Registry problems.
The Registry First Aid interface is clean and easy to navigate, and the program includes a Registry defragger, a Registry searching tool, and a built-in automatic backup module. Registry First Aid supports all versions of Windows.
The only drawback is that Registry First Aid costs $28 (£14); the trial version lets you see everything the program does, and is fully diagnostic, but fixes only 14 entries at a time. We're hoping that won't dissuade you from trying Registry First Aid.
Registry First Aid found 2,161 faulty entries in a 20-minute scan, a high number that may be explained by the program's relatively liberal definition of what constitutes a faulty entry. We were comfortable with the way it listed problems, either by category (such as invalid file or DLL, invalid path, or unused software entries) or by safety level. All of the entry issues that were safe to fix were automatically checkmarked, and we liked having to check the ones labeled 'Caution' or 'Extreme Caution' manually.
Most problems that Registry First Aid found were marked 'Delete the entry', but some had other choices. We could cut the invalid substring or, in some cases, repair the entry. Unfortunately, the program's Help function wasn't too helpful, so we opted to use the default. While the program was scanning, we were able to examine each listing, check or uncheck it, or open the specific entry in the Registry.
A great feature, and one worth Registry First Aid's price of admission: with one click, most of the problem entries popped open my browser and conducted a Google search on that Registry key. Very cool, and ideal for determining whether a risky entry should be removed.
One quibble: we weren't happy that the tool attempted to find a home in our PC's system tray, unnecessarily adding clutter just to check for new versions. We disabled it in the settings.