Friday, March 13, 2015

Software Review: CCleaner

CCleaner, created by the folks at Piriform, is a versatile disk cleanup utility that can perform many different functions.  It is free to download (though donations are encouraged) and does not take up a lot of hard drive space.

At its most basic, CCleaner can be used to remove temporary Internet and Windows files from your computer, such as cookies and recently opened documents.  It will also delete temporary files from many different applications (if you want it to) such as word processor programs, web browsers, antivirus programs, or other third-party Windows programs.

One advantage of CCleaner is how customizable it is.  You can choose exactly which types of files to remove (cookies, recent documents, saved form information, etc.).  You can also choose which programs to remove temporary files from -- CCleaner will list any programs you have installed that it can "cleanse."  Under the advanced options, you can even specify certain cookies you want to keep (for websites you visit often) or folders to exclude from cleanup.  If you have sensitive data, CCleaner can be set up to use secure deletion, where it will overwrite any deleted data to prevent recovery.  Depending on how secure you want it to be, you can have it overwrite the data up to 35 times.

In addition to its disk cleanup functions, CCleaner can also act as a sort of small-scale management console for your PC.  From CCleaner, you can uninstall old programs, manage system restore points, and delete programs from your startup menu.  One nice feature of CCleaner is that it displays basic system information that users sometimes need to find, including operating system (and which service packs are installed), processor type and speed, and the amount of RAM your PC has.

CCleaner works for a large variety of programs.  A few examples are Norton Antivirus, Microsoft Office, and Adobe's Flash Player.  It can recognize and clean virtually any web browser, and will even remove temporary files from some browser toolbars (such as the Yahoo! Toolbar).

CCleaner is very user-friendly -- every type of file or program is shown with a check box, so you can choose exactly what to delete and what to skip.  It runs quickly (usually finishing in a matter of seconds) and it is fairly comprehensive.  I sometimes run ATF Cleaner afterwards, to see what CCleaner missed, and every now and then ATF will find a few files left behind, but for the most part CCleaner does a thorough job.

The program can be set to automatically check for updates, and depending on the options you select when you install it (which can be changed later) it can be launched from the desktop, Start menu, Recycle Bin, or from inside your browser.  You can have it run on startup, and you can also have it shut the computer down after it finishes.

CCleaner is one of the best disk cleanup utilities I have come across.  It is lightweight, comprehensive, and highly adaptable.

(Originally published on, October 2009)

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