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Monday, April 2, 2001
Downloads of the week

LIKE we humans, our computers too can suffer from obesity. And a computer with a bloated tummy can find it hard to jog or even walk briskly. The tummy in the case of system is the Registry. The Registry is a database used to store settings and options for the 32-bit versions of Microsoft Windows, including Windows ’95, ’98, Me and NT/2000. It contains information and settings for all hardware, software, users and preferences of the PC. Whenever a user makes changes to the Control Panel settings or file associations, system policies, or installed software, the changes are reflected and stored in the Registry. The physical files that make up the registry are stored differently depending on your version of Windows. Under Windows 95, 98 and Me, it is contained in two hidden files in your Windows directory, called USER.DAT and SYSTEM.DAT, while under Windows NT/2000 the files are contained separately in the SystemRoot %\ System32\ Config directory. A Windows registry normally occupies five to seven megabytes. As you use your computer, you add and delete programs. Uninstalling these does not remove all registry entries and over a period it can double or treble its size without you having even a vague idea of how much weight it has gained. Periodically, therefore, we need to put the registry through a crash-dieting course so that it sheds its flab and become physically fit. However, before attempting to have a go at the registry be wary as it is the most crucial area of your system and you should proceed with great care. There are a number of highly priced system utilities available that can automatically detect junk entries in your registry and delete them. These utilities help you get rid of unnecessary files, lost fragments, duplicate files and invalid short cuts that point to programs you once had. You do not necessarily need to buy these. You can safely download many good freeware utilities from the Net. These do the job equally well if not better than priced utilities. Here are the freeware, which will do the job automatically provided you proceed carefully. You therefore first must understand what registry is. Let us then begin this week’s downloads with two freeware files that will introduce you to the registry as well tell you how to edit the registry.


Windows Registry Guide

The Windows Registry Guide provides an extensive range of registry tips, tricks and tweaks for optimising, enhancing and securing the Windows operating system. Like a good and understanding teacher it helps you edit your registry in a step-by-step format, which is safe as well as effective. The program covers six main areas including enhancements, files, performance, security, tips and tricks and troubleshooting. You can use this freeware in two ways. By just reading the text you can learn all about the registry that will greatly enhance your computing abilities. Secondly, you can edit the registry to improve the performance of your system and making the most of all software you have. It gives you relevant information about how and what changes to make to your registry to achieve the desired results safely. It covers all popular Windows versions now in use. This makes it a must download for every Windows user. If you go about your task carefully, it can virtually help you produce a completely new avataar of Windows suitably personalised and catering to your exact requirements. It gives you complete control over your OS so much so that you can control its behaviour completely. The program also provides instant online links to more advanced information on all aspects of registry available on winguides.com Web site. It contains an FAQ section, which answers all questions popping in your mind before you are ready to overhaul the registry. You can download this file from http://registry.winguides.com


If you think registry editing should be left only to programmers, consider this. Mr Shrisahai Rana, the author of this application is an Indian and a lawyer by profession. Computers are just a hobby for him. He holds a postgraduate degree in Law not software engineering. He has his own Web site http://www.srana.cjb.net where he keeps posting his new creations. He wrote WinReg for the benefit of normal users like us. Though the application has a short name WinReg, its real name is Mystery behind Windows Registry — Conquering the Mystery. Here is why he wrote WinReg: "The Registry has been made out to be a phenomenal mystery probably due to the CLSID keys alone and as such has inspired a number of books, FAQs and Web sites etc. It is . unfortunate that Microsoft has chosen to deal with the Registry and Registry editing as a ‘black art,’ leaving many people in the dark as to the real uses of all settings in the systems. Microsoft’s refusal to adequately and publicly supply information about the correct settings is extremely frustrating and added further mystery to registry. Certainly more damage has and will be done because of lack of knowledge than because of too much information." Here is what it helps you learn and achieve: rename IE4 title, opening files with different programs, special modem settings for fast Internet connections, manage short cuts, tweak CD-ROM speed, unclutter Start Menu, high colour icons without PLUS!, change application path, wallpaper positioning, hard drive thrashing and network settings. You can download it from the above mentioned site or try srana.url.

Easy Cleaner version 1.7 for Windows 95/98/NT/Me

This a great freeware that you can use to automatise registry cleaning, removing obsolete and junk files and all sorts of clutter on your hard disk. It leaves your system neat and clean with no lean meat anywhere. It is free for you to keep with no advertisements or nagging pop up reminders to register. None of its features are disabled after a few days as in the case of limited trial versions put out by Norton, System OnTrack and McAfee etc. No bugs have been reported so far in the current version. To top it all, its upgrades are free to download as and when released. What more could you want from a freeware! Those who have used StopWastingSpace and McAfee Clean etc have found to their horror Windows help files removed from the HDD. Others had their MS Office Assistant utility disappear from their screens. But there have been no such bugs in EasyCleaner. The help section includes information on all bugs reported in previous versions. Even though the version does not mention that it can be used with Windows Me too, you can use it safely with this avatar of Windows because basically Me is but a simplified version of Win ’98. But be careful with duplicate files removal. Though it can be a long exercise yet one should retain at least one of each of the duplicate files identified. The latest should be preferred to older ones. In the case of font files, leave them alone. Removing these may make the font unavailable in a particular program. Another feature of this utility is its depiction of space usage on the HDD in colour-graphic mode. In one glance you can look at space occupied by any particular file on the system. You can configure the program to specify which files to leave alone and which to identify making your task easier as you gain knowledge about the registry and system files. You can download it from registry section of Tweakfiles.com or from its author’s Web site www.saunalahti.fi/tonihele.

RegClean 4.1 build 759

The registry continues to be a grey area despite the efforts of people like Shrisahai

Sarna, Toni Helenius (author of EasyCleaner) and Joni Vuorio whohas written RegClean. No registry cleaning utility is yet available that can clean the entire registry or identify all junk files. You may run any of these utilities and recover your disk space but when you run another similar utility it will throw up many junk files and obsolete registry entries. So the solution lies in using two utilities so you can do a more thorough job. And you cannot expect a better deal when both these can be downloaded off the Net at no cost. RegClean and EasyCleaner somehow compliment each other’s efforts. Used one after the other they leave hardly any junk on your system. They have similar functions but work differently and therefore remove different kind of files. RegClean has an additional feature which helps you trim your uninstall programs list.

Though the relevant applet in Control Panel lists all programs you have on your system and which can be removed automatically, RegClean shows you a more comprehensive list in that it includes sub-programs, which form part of Windows. However, mind it, RegClean does not remove or uninstall these programs, it only removes a name from the list if refuses to go which happens often enough. RegClean, a Finnish product, helps the user have a look at OCX files; DLL files and can run RegEdit to change registry items. It is free for forever and can be downloaded from Tweakfiles.com or from the author’s homepage www.jv16.org

— Raman Mohan

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