Frontline’s Registry Cleaner 2.0 is designed to deal with problems with the Windows registry. The software also contains a program to manage which programs start up when Windows boots up, as well as a junk files cleaner.
The Windows registry is the main database for the storage of settings for a lot of Windows components, including operating system components such as device drivers, Windows services and applications.
This means the registry is critical for Windows to run smoothly, and a single wrong entry can induce a total failure of the Windows operating system, or of individual applications and hardware running under Windows.
There are two schools of thought with regard to programs that clean or optimise the Windows registry. The first is steer well clear of any program to do with altering the Windows registry if you’re not an expert Windows user.
The second is if you do use one, make sure you image your operating system and backup the registry before use, so if something catastrophic happens, you have a safety net which lets you roll back to the last bootable image, or roll back to the last good registry entry database.
Frontline supports all current Microsoft operating systems – XP, Vista and Windows 7 – in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.
We downloaded version 2.0, and installed the 6MB package in under a minute, on our Labs Dell Optiplex 980 running 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate edition, Optiplex GX280 running 32-bit XP Professional systems, and a Labs Core 2 Duo system running 32-bit Windows 7 Ultimate.
Unfortunately the first of several minor niggles that we encountered while using the package concerns the graphics user interface (GUI), which can’t be sized to full screen [see picture].
This means users will have to scroll the sliders to see further down the main window, if more than a full window of information is presented.
The main features are the actual Windows registry cleaner, a registry defragmentation program, an option to back-up the registry, a programs start-up manager, and a junk files removal program.
We performed an initial scan using Frontline's cleaner, which came up with nearly 7,000 registry problems, including uninstall entries, empty registry keys, shared dynamic link library files, among others [see picture].
Users can also opt to either just clean up the registry or remove junk files, or do both.
We did run benchmarks (PassMark Software's Performance Test package) on all three systems before and after cleaning the registry and removing junk files, just to check if there was any performance improvement – or decrease – but we couldn't see any difference in performance.
While running the Registry Cleaner on our Core 2 Duo laptop running Windows 7 Ultimate, we did pick up a problem. At the time we were looking at Microsoft's cloud-based PC management system Intune. After we ran the Registry Cleaner, all of the installed program entries for Intune were missing [see picture].
We contacted Frontline Utilities about this problem, and received this reply from its chief executive Richard Peck.
"Since Intune is a Microsoft program, it's been created to work with a variety of Windows hooks which many third-party developers don't have access to, and considering it's a tool which has been designed for security – it has a lot of files, settings and options stored in places you wouldn't normally expect to find them. Although I am hesitant to draw conclusions straight away, I would suggest that it's just a conflict with Intune which is causing the error."
Startup manager and junk file remover
One aspect in which Frontline's program can definitely improve Windows performance is through use of its Startup Manager. This allows users to stop programs that run at start up.
However, it was difficult to see the full path name of the start-up program flagged by Frontline due to the aforementioned Window resize problem.
Frontline found around 7GB of files it labelled junk [see picture above], and gave the option to delete these. The files were contained in the Windows Temp file directory, the recycle bin, Internet Explorer's file cache, and in users' recent documents profile area. Users can manually select which junk files to delete.
The other options are the ability to run a totaliser for the number of errors the Registry Cleaner has fixed, and an option to defragment the registry.
We had problems with downloading updates. The updater did not notify us that we were up to date, although Frontline quickly fixed this minor problem.
A neat system for keeping Windows registries performing optimally, which also contains a couple of other useful tools in the form of the Program Startup manager, and a junk file removal sub-program.
We had problems with Frontline's updating system for its registry cleaning engine, which were fixed quickly by the company. The other more minor niggle was that the main program Window can’t be resized to take up the full screen.
The big problem was the Registry Cleaner's interaction with Intune, after which we had to re-install the Intune agents onto our system.