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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".


CCleaner Main Window


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 for you.

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 destruction.


Cookies to Keep


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.


Registry Issues

Registry Confirmation


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.


Startup Tool

UnInstall Tool


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.

Bottom Line:

CCleaner (Freeware)

Originally published: September, 2016

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