How to Clean Windows XP Registry

By Editorial Team

Updated December 12, 2019

How to Clean Windows XP Registry. The Windows XP registry is one of the most important components of your PC. The registry is where Windows XP stores all of your computer's device and file associations, as well as critical information about drivers, directories, Windows applications and more.

Click the "Start" menu button to open the Start menu.

Click "Run."

Type "regedit" into the text field and press "Enter."

Access the many different entries in your Windows XP registry. It is separated into primary sections: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT, HKEY_CURRENT_USER, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, HKEY_USERS and HKEY_CURRENT CONFIG. Each section contains a different set of entries related to different aspects of Windows XP operation.

Click on one of the plus-signs (+) next to one of the root directories, opening a more detailed list. This second level will have more directories to choose from, and will make it easier for you to find entries you need to clean the registry.

Delete entries in the registry that you know are either causing conflicts or are no longer necessary. Do this by pressing the "Delete" key, or by right-clicking on your mouse and choosing "Delete entry."

Invest in a third-party registry application to help you clean your Windows XP registry. Several programs are available that do the dirty work for you. Some even include backup capabilities to retrace their steps in the event of a critical error.

Clean your boot records by changing which programs load themselves at startup. Click through both the LOCAL_MACHINE and CURRENT_USER directories until you reach Software/Microsoft/Windows/Run and RunOnce. From here, you can clean out registry entries that are causing certain programs to run on startup.


Back up your system files before you clean your Windows XP registry. Choose "System Restore" from the System Tools, or you can always use the ntbackup.exe file that comes with Windows XP. Windows XP Home Edition users can download the backup application from the Microsoft website.


Do not clean the Windows XP registry unless you are absolutely sure you know which entries you are deleting and which entries must remain. If you delete vital registry entries, it is very likely that your PC will begin to behave erratically. Always double-check the definition of entries before you modify them.

Items you will need

  • Windows XP

  • Administrative privileges within Windows XP