CCleaner: Kick the Crap Out of Your PC

It’s an accepted axiom that there’s an inverse relationship between security and convenience when it comes to computing. To wit, a great many of the operating system features and applications most of us rely on have a real potential to compromise system security to some degree.

CCleaner divides system cleanup chores into three main categories, each of which can be tailored to individual needs

Quick, Easy, and (Mostly) Effective
CCleaner’s initial OS/browser analysis of our test system took a bit less than three minutes and uncovered about 2.9 GB worth of files to be eliminated.
The actual cleaning process took around two minutes and reported an actual amount of 2.5 GB of space cleared (which we verified by checking the increase in available space on the drive). Application and Registry analyses uncovered innumerable items to fix as well (though they didn’t free up nearly as much space).

A detailed post-cleaning examination of our test system indicated that most all the information CCleaner purported to clean had indeed been expunged from the system. Temp files had disappeared, browser history lists had disappeared into the ether and the Recycle Bin was empty.

Perhaps as important, those sites whose cookies we had saved continued to behave as they always had. We did notice, however, that MRU lists for Microsoft
Word XP unexpectedly remained intact.

Other Features

Another useful feature of CCleaner is its ability to manipulate the Add/Remove Programs List. For example, you can use the utility to rename any entry in the list. This can come in handy when an application you installed doesn’t provide a sufficiently descriptive title for itself, which can in turn lead you to accidentally delete a needed program as a result of thinking it’s superfluous or perhaps spyware.

And for those occasions when an application gets deleted but its Add/Remove Programs entry stubbornly refuses to budge, CCleaner can excise it with a single click of the mouse. You can also directly initiate the uninstall process for any program from within CCleaner.

Like Windows’ built-in MSCONFIG utility, CCleaner also gives you access to the (usually lengthy) list of startup programs. This feature is of limited usefulness, though; while MSCONFIG gives you the option of merely disabling a startup program, CCleaner will only let you delete it, which can lead to problems if you’re not absolutely sure of what you’re deleting.

Another relatively minor complaint is that the only documentation takes the form of a sparse online FAQ, which people looking for detail on the various settings will find insufficient.

CCleaner is compatible with Windows versions from 95 through XP and is available as a free download (at a mere 468K, it’s a quick one, too) and is also free to use indefinitely. According to the author, a suggested donation via
PayPal of 10GBP (about $18.55 at the time of this writing) will get you future updates to the utility in advance of public release.

CCleaner is definitely a handy program to have in one’s system utility repertoire. It provides a level of discriminate system cleaning the Windows operating system doesn’t provide, and even though some of CCleaner’s capabilities are built into Windows or the host applications, CCleaner still saves time by providing a centralized launch point for myriad housekeeping chores.

Pros: Quickly, easily and effectively removes unwanted and/or potentially private information from you PC; freeware tool; offers cleaning support for a wide variety of apps; useful uninstall tool

Cons: Sparse help/documentation; test version didn’t effectively remove Office XP MRUs

Adapted from

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