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CCleaner is a popular and highly regarded tool for cleaning files, history, cookies, and much more from your computer.
CCleaner's been around a long time and with good reason: it provides several very valuable and useful functions.
Several of CCleaner's functions may well duplicate some tools that you already have, but its primary claim to fame is its ability to clean up files, history, and other things from your computer that you might not need or want to keep around.
It lives up to its name as a cleaner.
Let's first do some full disclosure on that name.
CCleaner started out years ago as "Crap Cleaner" - its focus was on cleaning temporary files - the crap - that was left around by many, many applications. It's since matured into much, much more.
Part of that maturation was apparently sanitizing the program's name somewhat.
Those of us who've been around for a while still think of it by its original name.
Start CCleaner and you'll begin in its cleaner tool, which shows you the various types of Windows components and file types that it can clean:
Click the Applications tab and you'll also get a long list of other programs that CCleaner also knows about:
In both cases, you can scroll through and select or de-select which items you would like CCleaner to clean.
When first using the tool, the next step is to click Analyze, which simply examines your system for cleaning opportunities.
Here, you can see that when run on my system, CCleaner would free up a little over 400 megabytes of space. Not surprisingly, the largest component is Google Chrome's browser cache, as that's the browser that I've been using all day.
For the most part, the files that CCleaner proposes to delete are indeed safe to delete.
But it's important to realize that there may be ramifications. Some examples:
Deleting cookies may require that you re-login to sites that had previously remembered you.
Deleting history - be it in a browser or other applications - naturally means that the history feature will no longer have the entries that are deleted.
Deleting temporary internet files may slightly slow down your subsequent initial visits to the websites that you visit frequently.
... and so on.
It's worth browsing the list of items that CCleaner proposes to delete and if you're unsure, go back and uncheck the corresponding item so that it doesn't try to delete it.
As for me, I tend to run with the default selection.
As you may already know, I'm not a huge fan of registry cleaners. In general, the risk is too high and the benefits are typically miniscule. Unless there's a specific problem that you're attempting to solve, I suggest not using a general purpose registry cleaner ... ever.
That being said, if you feel you must, CCleaner's registry cleaner is a reasonable choice.
Note: After you scan for issues, there will almost always be issues. Even on my machine - which is working just great - CCleaner has listed over 200 "issues" that it would clean up for me, if allowed.
I'm not going to clean them, as cleaning them would give me no appreciable benefit.
If you do elect to "Fix selected issues...", CCleaner will prompt you to backup the registry first, which I recommend that you do, of course.
CCleaner includes several other tools:
Uninstall: An additional interface to uninstalling software on your machine. This is potentially useful if Control Panel's uninstall isn't working properly for you.
Startup: An interface for managing programs that start automatically when you boot your computer or login, as well as Internet Explorer add-ons.
System Restore: An interface to manage Windows' Restore Points.
Drive Wiper: A utility which can securely wipe the free space on your disk or in fact, wipe an entire hard drive.
Most of these tools duplicate other tools that I often recommend, but they can be convenient if you already have CCleaner installed and don't want to grab yet another tool.
CCleaner can be configured to run automatically when Windows starts.
I prefer to run it automatically myself. In particular, I schedule it to run before my nightly backup, so as to not waste backup space with temporary files and the like.
If you run CCleaner once, it is configured by default to save the settings that you select into a .ini file. You can then schedule the command:
"C:\Program Files\CCleaner\CCleaner64.exe" /AUTO
(Use CCleaner.exe for 32-bit systems) and it will automatically run and perform the cleaning operation.
Download it, run the Analyze function, and see what you see. It may become a useful cleanup utility to keep in your toolbox.
I recommend it.
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