Ottawa PC Users' Group, Inc.
by Jocelyn Doire
I always try to keep my computer as clean as possible to
avoid many problems such as filling up my hard drive too
quickly, but it takes time and it's not always easy to
know what is good and what is not. Obviously one can
delete the Recycle Bin and the Temporary Internet Files
without trouble, but there are lots of files I'm not sure
about, and there are those that I know exist but not
where they are.
So when I heard at the IT
Pro SIG that CCleaner was a nice cleanup program that was
quite reliable and free, I was happy to give it a try. As
a precaution I did a full image of my hard disk and took
the opportunity to fully update my Windows.
The main window of
CCleaner is divided in 3 main parts; the left column has
4 buttons to select the type of cleanup and options, the
middle one lets you select in details what to delete, and
the one at the right shows what will be deleted if you
click on the "Analyse" button, and what was
deleted if you click on the "Run Cleaner".
Using the program is
quite simple; for example to delete all the files in the
Internet Explorer cache, unselect all the choices (click
on the 4 check boxes in the first column), select
"Temporary Internet Files", and then click on
the "Run Cleaner" button.
The real advantage of
CCleaner starts when you select more choices, for example
select all the files related to Internet Explorer, or if
you are really ambition, you can even select all the
choices and then simply watch the program do all the work
Selecting everything is
simple but it might do more than what you want, for
example selecting "Recently Typed URLs" means
that you will have to retype in full all the internet
addresses again, instead of typing just a few characters.
CCleaner gives a warning with some of the choices; read
the text to decide if you want it or not.
Since I installed Windows
over 3 years ago I expected to have a lot crap on my
machine, so I went ahead and selected everything and
clicked on "Analyse" and sure enough I got a
very long list. I tried to review it but I soon realised
that it was way too much, and simply pressed the
"Run Cleaner" button. The result was that it
deleted over 300MB of data on my hard drive, which I
thought was rather impressive given that I had recently
did a cleanup using the standard Windows's tools.
CCleaner is not limited
to Windows programs, it also has a fairly extensive list
of applications such as Firefox, Opera, OpenOffice,
Macromedia, WinZip and many more under the
"Applications" tabs, a list that is updated
automatically. Once again, you can select what you want
and delete it in a single step.
I don't particularly like
to have a lot of cookies(1) stored on my machine by the
various sites I visit, but deleting them all is a real
pain because some are quite useful. For this reason
CCleaner has added the option to selects which cookies
you want to keep; all you need is to select the cookies
from the "Cookies to Delete" panel and to move
them to the "Cookies to Keep" using the arrows
in the middle, and when you run the cleaner, CCleaner
will automatically exclude those cookies from
Another area where a lot
of baggage can accumulate is the registry, but it is
something best left alone normally, as stated clearly in
so many places. Despite the warnings I was very much
interested to clean it because, according to many ads I
read, I could get a faster Windows and a reduction of
glitches. So I clicked on "Scan for Issues" and
once again the list I got was way too extensive to review
in detail, with over 500 issues. Clicking on "Fix
Selected Issues..." gave me the option to backup the
registry, a real nice touch, and then it opened a dialog
explaining each problem, what could have caused it,
offered a solution and then it offers the option to
accept each individual change or all of them. After a few
weeks of using my computer I still have not seen any
negative consequences of accepting all the deletions.
CCleaner also provides
two tools to further clean your hard drive, the first one
offers to uninstall any program you have, a function very
similar to the one included with Windows but with some
extra functionality, and a second tool that can remove
programs from the various startup sources.
A little negative note
about CCleaner is that it does not install a help file on
your machine; instead it uses an online version, which
can be inconvenient for people having a slow connection,
though the site includes many source of information
including an FAQ and a forum. The program provides also a
convenient link to update the program at the bottom of
all the screens.
After deleting everything
I could using CCleaner, I went through Chris Taylor's June 2006 article (At the
Beginners' SIG) to see if I could find further
things to delete, and I did, for example I found out that
I could remove the Windows patch uninstall folders, plus
there were many other good suggestions that still make
that article very useful.
CCleaner is a freeware,
and as far as I can tell, is free of any malware. The
site has many Google ads, which probably help to pay for
the bandwidth, and if you like the program you are
invited to make a donation at CCleaner's web site:
Now that I have freed
several hundreds of MB on my drive I can go back to my
normal activities and add some more stuff. :-)
(1) Cookies are
little files stored on your hard drive that contains bits
of info used by the internet sites you visit, to keep
track of what you do at the their site, to store
passwords and/or preferences, and many more things,
potentially invading some of your privacy.
Click here to view the
full OPCUG website with frames.
Copyright and Usage
Ottawa Personal Computer Users Group (OPCUG), Inc.
3 Thatcher Street, Ottawa, ON K2G 1S6
opinions expressed in these reviews do not necessarily
represent the views of the OPCUG or its members.
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