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Disk cleanup and CCleaner can both be run on your computer - but do you need to keep them both?

Does doing defragging and disk cleanup once a month myself do the same job as CCleaner and is it safe to delete CCleaner from my system?

In this excerpt from Answercast #95 I look at how CCleaner works on a computer in comparison to using disk cleanup and a defragging utility.

Disk cleanup and CCleaner

Well, no. There are definitely a couple of different things going on here.

Defragging is unrelated to disk cleanup - and unrelated to CCleaner. Defragging is something that you probably want to continue doing on your Windows XP machine. If you're running Windows 7, the system is already taking care of defragging for you once a week, but doing do it yourself on Windows XP once a month sounds great.

Disk cleanup and CCleaner... there's a lot of overlap. CCleaner cleans up some things that a disk cleaner doesn't. I believe that the disk cleaner may clean up a few things that CCleaner doesn't but I'm not sure that it's very much.

Do you need CCleaner?

CCleaner is in my opinion, the better, more comprehensive tool. That being said, is it safe to delete it? Sure. Lots of people don't run with it at all. It's fine; it's a clean-up utility.

It's absence isn't' gong to cause you any problems certainly not in the short term. As your machine maybe accumulates some data, or accumulates some temporary files that a tool like CCleaner might clean up, you can use the disk clean up utility to clean those things - or you can do some investigation yourself to find out what kinds of things you want to clean up.

I would take a close look at the feature set that CCleaner is giving you. I think, on a personal level, you need to decide whether or not that larger feature set that CCleaner offers, even with its default configuration, is something that you want.

Personally, I think you do want it. There's no harm in leaving CCleaner either. Keep it up to date, of course - but my tendency is that you go ahead and continue to keep CCleaner; run it instead of a disk cleanup utility and then run defrag periodically on your own.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Article C6325 - February 24, 2013 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

February 25, 2013 12:02 AM

Once in awhile I check for new features I might want in CCleaner. If there is a change I want, I update. But since CCleaner runs offline, there's no problem with using an older version.
When I use it, I use the default settings for cleanup, except that I un-check 'empty recycle bin'. People who have problems with CCleaner usually invite them by marking/using options they don't fully understand.
Two more things to remember when I load a new version... Don't have it start when Windows starts, and don't have it automatically check for newer versions.
Almost forgot the most important part. Don't use the registry cleaner. If you're a tech and know how to be selective with it, that's good.... Most people don't need it. Sometimes, on older machines, the registry can become 'crowded' enough that a registry cleaner might help. However, if your system has reached this point, it's generally better to backup your data, reload Windows, and start fresh.

February 26, 2013 10:15 AM

Honestly, I regard them as non-essential programs. Your choice if you want them, however, I would suggest not using the registry cleaner and please do know what you're doing when checking the Advanced features although ccleaner does warn you first and they don't do that for fun.

I haven't had any utility programs for I think 5 years now and I can do without them. I find Windows 7 and 8 too robust and not in need of them. It is your choice but with my computer I pass.

bob price
February 26, 2013 12:30 PM

Registry cleaners are not only unnecessary, but can cause big problems. The only thing in the reg that affects performance is the various "run" strings that load programs on every startup. These can and do bog down a computer but there are many ways to remove these.

Reg cleaners scan and report you have 200 errors, and people panic. This means nothing. Win 7 registry is 200-400 mb, so cleaning up those 200 errors is like snipping off a 1/8" piece of paper on page 350 of the Sunday NY Times.

And the risk is the cleaner will snip far too much.

February 26, 2013 1:29 PM

I've used CCleaner since I found it and I consider it a damn good app. It does what I want it to do the way I configured it.
I defrag once a week with Auslogics defragger and once a month I use the defrag and optimize option.

Alex Dow
February 27, 2013 3:31 AM

I would suggest that if you do use such programs as CCleaner, it/they should be run before doing defragging.

Similar to emptying the Recycle Bin/Trash Can, it gives the defragging program more free/empty disk space to work with.

February 28, 2013 11:49 AM

Hi Leo:

Thanks for your excellent articles. I enjoy reading them.
Is PC Cleaner free to download and also to use? Or, is there an annual or monthly fee associated with it?

Please respond.

Navin Patel

Steve Burgess
February 28, 2013 12:31 PM

Good article, as usual. -- Just wanted to mention (even though as we're all law-abiding, non-suspicious computer users) that in criminal defense cases, law enforcement tends to try to look at installed cleanup programs with a jaundiced and suspicious eye. Same with file-sharing programs. If these are on a computer that's in a police report, these types of programs are likely to be mentioned as suggesting you're a bad person trying to hide something. Of course there are mostly legitimate reasons for trying to keep your computer clean and running smoothly, but a judge might be otherwise swayed. I'm a computer forensics guy, and I've seen this several times.

February 28, 2013 6:22 PM

Here's a link to Leo's article on CCleaner.

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