Very disappointing apps from Spybot people.
My apps (www.d7xtech.com) aren’t that good. I won’t deny it, but they fill a void that I need filled, because you generally can’t find that functionality elsewhere (or at least, couldn’t at the time I wrote them.)
Enter www.safer-networking.org the people behind Spybot Search & Destroy. This article isn’t about Spybot S&D (I could dwell on that for a while) but rather about some of the website’s other promising offerings: RunAlyzer and RegAlyzer.
First I must mention the so-called “WinPE Compatibilty” that is gaining popularity in some apps. I may do a write-up later, but for the purpose of this article we assume this means the app can search the registry and associated filesystem of a Windows installation that isn’t the currently running OS. With this in mind, due to the limitations and annoyances of WinPE, I mainly use “WinPE Compatible” apps on real Windows installations.
Today’s test setup: A client’s hard drive (Windows XP Home Vista Home Premium) attached to my “Tech Bench Computer” or TBC via a USB adapter. This TBC is a fresh install (as of yesterday) of Windows XP Pro with all updates and new drivers on a dual P4 2.8, 1.5GB DDR2, new 500GB SATA hard drive, with few other apps installed (YET, except for Chrome, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, and my WHS Connector software… if you want to split hairs.) I literally just set got this thing going and then needed it today. So I’m confident any issues with these apps are problems with the apps themselves…
Now, my experiences:
RunAlyzer – A nice “WinPE compatible” app to analyze startup entries. For years I’ve used various implementations of my LoadReg app and then fired up regedit.exe and navigated to all the locations I had to find manually. This should be a treat, right?
As a side note, unfortunately there is NO single “startup” app out there that will show you everything. A combination of two apps usually does most of the trick and you can check one or two largely ignored or unknown items manually. RunAlyzer is no exception.
My RunAlyzer experience was very poor.
- BAD – I had to install the application. It wasn’t “portable” and that irritates me though I realize it often cannot be avoided, but for a “WinPE Compatible” application this is BAD! Though the creators have their own whacky process and another broken utility to accomplish this, which I may cover later, it wasn’t an issue for me since I am using it on a real system.
- Good? – It automatically searched for and loaded the registry hives of the client’s Windows install. I complain because I like control. I don’t want to see my own TBC startup entries in addition to those of the client computer. But this is still mainly good, it replaces a few seconds of the user choosing the install path with a few seconds of (omg that took a while) the program itself scanning for one…
- BAD – It missed loading the user hive. Perhaps because the profile was “private” (or, no everyone access was set and my machine obviously didn’t have the appropriate security permissions.) it was simply a Vista install. With my apps, I try to take this into account with code for GetSystem, another app that gains system account privileges to bypass security permissions. I have seen some apps that just add the appropriate permissions easy enough (but potentially slow while applying changes.) It seems this app did neither.
- BAD – It missed some startup locations that it did get right for my TBC, in addition to those that it misses entirely, which to be fair are few.
- GOOD – Option to Google for entries. Something I use myself with my GooG.exe and code integrated into other apps and shell extensions.
- BAD – The Google function didn’t work. It kept googling for %TEMP%
- GOOD – Jump to location in the registry. I’ve implemented this in my RegHunt app, works great.
- BAD – The Jump to function didn’t work. It just opened the registry editor.
- BAD – it did not unload one of the registry hives properly when I closed the app, so I had to manually unloaded the hive with regedit. Note I was running no other apps or doing anything that would require open handles to that hive to prevent it from unloading. This is just a bad app.
UNINSTALLED……….. moving on……….
Next I turned my attention to RegAlyzer. I wanted to search the registry for a particular filename and see what came up. Unfortunately this was another poor experience.
- BAD – I didn’t note any functionality in the GUI for that “WinPE Compatibility” – perhaps there was a command line parameter to load hives, or perhaps it just doesn’t support this functionality. No matter. I whipped out my LoadReg tool and loaded the client registry hives.
- BAD – GUI placement. I thought was the search box was the empty field next to the search button. It was the address bar instead (yes, that could out of the way in the status bar like in regedit…)
- EXTREMELY BAD – Next I clicked the search button which popped up a new window. I pasted the name into the box, and now the search begins.
- Hmm, nothing yet. I see the animation.
- 15 minutes later, the search was still going on.
- 30 min, no change.
- 45 minutes later, still searching. (Good thing I wasn’t in a hurry to do this work.)
- SUPERMEGACALLAFRAGALISTIC BAD
- I hit CANCEL, it appeared to and the search box disappeared. Sweet? No, because
- Then I tried to close the app, no go. Well, ok, I cut it some slack…
- 15 minutes later, app still won’t close despite repeated X clicks. Hmm, I’ll write this blog and see if it is done by then!
- 1 hour into it, and the app is still up. Though the search window was gone much earlier, I noted a little magnifying glass animation to the right of the address bar. It wasn’t moving until I hit X, then it kicked in and started zipping along. *sigh* IT IS STILL SEARCHING FOR OVER AN HOUR AND WON’T STOP!
- BAD – Also, the entire time it ate up all of my CPU power. Nice!
- BAD – Task Manager > End Process Tree
I made every single attempt to be fair to these apps and I put my usual impatience on hold, but it just didn’t work out,
DID YOU KNOW? RegLite and it’s paid version Registrar from Resplendence (www.resplendence.com) have been around for many years and are unbelievably awesome at search! It must be installed, BUT from there you can easily copy the single EXE and DLL to a flash drive and use it as a portable app.
How does RegLite/Registrar stackup to RegAlyzer? I don’t care to compare all the features, but for search it stomps, check it:
After terminating the RegAlyzer process I fired up RegLite which searched the registry in 14 seconds, AND found 4 instances of the filename I was looking for! (One was the offender tucked away in CLSIDs, two were MRU bags, and one was the “SearchTerm” key of RegAlyzer itself lol.
So sad, 14 seconds vs. 1+ hours. You make the call!