PC users are often advised to clean their laptop's registry as a way to speed up the computer's performance. Cleaning a registry can be a difficult and risky proposition for the uninitiated, and it may only have a significant effect on a computer's performance if combined with other data-clearing strategies. However, there are ways to declutter a registry at home safely, and without calling in a laptop repair specialist.

What does the registry do?

The Windows registry tracks nearly all the data a computer processes each day. It stores files and special computer components, keeps a record of certain user actions, such as website visits, and generally serves as an all-purpose data resource. For that reason, a registry can quickly become bogged down with unneeded data, and Windows typically does not clear this data on its own.

Ways to clean out the registry

There are a few steps users should take when performing this task.

Backup data – This is a critical first step. Registry cleaning can result in lost or damaged files, and backing up the laptop's data beforehand can allow users to revert their system to its previous state if anything goes wrong.

Choose a suitable cleaning program – Windows offers its own registry cleaning program, but it can be a challenge to manage even for the most experienced computer users. Some easier-to-use third-party programs are free while others require a fee, and some are offered as a package with other security software. Users should evaluate their options carefully before settling on a program.

Close all open applications – Programs make additions to the registry constantly, so it's important to ensure they are closed while the cleaner does its job.

Follow program instructions carefully – Users should read each dialog box carefully so they know what the program is doing and can back out if it seems unwieldy.

Only remove what's familiar – Users might be asked to delete registry errors for programs they don't recognize. If an error is related to an application they uninstalled a while ago or a program they know isn't important, it's likely safe to delete. Otherwise, users should scrutinize each deletion carefully.

If all else fails, get help – A Maryland laptop repair specialist may be able to provide better guidance if users feel they're in over their head.