This morning I was looking at the Sympatico/MSN portal http://sympatico.msn.ca/ and thought I would have a peek at registry utilities. This is one place in a Windows system that I rarely go into and even more rarely try to make any changes. Yet, it the centre of the whole OS and it gets really cluttered over time (which leads to all kinds of badness). I found a shareware program called Registry First Aid. It is a program that has won all kinds of awards. So, I began with the free trial. It was really amazing the amount of bits of junk it found in the registry!
I was so impressed that I bought it online and installed it in minutes. The full scan and fixes took a few mintes to run and the difference in performance was noticeable immediately! I highly recommend this product for all window users! It is available from http://www.rosecitysoftware.com/ for $28 CAD.
I refused to buy this program until I could see whether it really made a difference. I spent ages with the trial version deleting more than 1000 useless registry items 10 at a time. But I admit it's not bad.
(I thought I would try the registry thing as part of a general attempt to get my computer working properly. For the past several days I'm having a terrible time with outlook express. I downloaded some update fixes for both Windows and Office XP the same day, and ever since then my outlook express has not been working properly. One of the problems is a wonky "normal.dot" file that I cannot seem to get uncorrupted. I thought perhaps my registry clutter was making things worse, or that I had a virus, or ... or ... or. Sigh)
Good luck in keeping XP going. I didn't realize the number of problems associated with this OS until I googled "XP problems" - wow, that's a lot! It makes my old Win98 sound downright smooth.
Windows 98 (2nd Edition) is indeed a very good operating system and I wouldn't encourage anyone to dump it unless they need to run an application that won't run on it. I'm in no hurry to migrate to XP since I find the Windows 2000 was even more stable than 98 and I particularly like the extra security of an NTFS file system.
I don't use a registry cleaner as I'm an "open-it-up-and-see-how-it-works" type of person who loves to fiddle with the registry (after making a backup).