CCleaner: Easy Care Routine For Maximum System Performance

Cezar Renta

All of us strive to keep our computers clean and as a result get top performance out of our systems, nevertheless there are always files, registry entries, shortcuts …etc. left behind from program uninstalls, web browsing and other activities. While we can manually remove some of them, other entries are not so accessible or noticeable and as they pile up we experience slower system performance.

The system maintenance software industry is vast, but there aren’t many programs as simple and straightforward as CCleaner, which is why this free application is between the most popular ones in its niche.

Installation & Requirements

CCleaner’s setup file is less than 4 MB and its install process is speedy and provides only a few settings for the user, namely creating desktop and Start Menu shortcuts, Recycle Bin context menu integration and update auto-check.

The program’s requirements are limited to the OS itself, so for Windows it runs on 2000, Server 2003 and 2008, XP, Vista and 7. There is also a version for Mac 10.5 OS X available.

Interface

CCleaner is not only efficient in cleaning your PC of junk but it’s also very easy to use, due to the program’s bloat-free, organized interface. The main four categories, Cleaner, Registry, Tools and Options are displayed as a sidebar on the left.

The Cleaner frees your PC of temporary files, cookies, browsing history and other traces left behind programs and web surfing. It comes with two tabs, one for Windows, containing Internet Explorer, Windows Explorer, System and some Advanced items, and another one for the rest of the Applications, including web-browsers. The user has full control of what items should be removed as all of them can be manually checked or unchecked. Both Analyze and Clean functions are fast. And if you tested other PC optimization tools, then you know how most of them clean your web browsers of saved passwords and forms (something which most users don’t want). Well, CCleaner is smarter and at first use it automatically performs an intelligent cookie scan that allows you to keep your persistent logins when performing a system cleanup.

In the Registry tab you have the same control over which items CCleaner takes action. The program thoroughly scans your system’s registry from application paths and file extensions to ActiveX Controls and Shared DLLs. Of course, before starting the cleaning process CCleaner  offers the possibility of backing up the system. The Tools section provides a collection of useful utilities, namely Uninstall, Startup, System Restore and Drive Wiper. I’ve found Drive Wiper the most powerful tools of this set as it allows you to permanently delete all data on drives but more important it also has an option for deleting only free space from a drive. This means that your current data remains unaffected but everything you deleted through the default Windows procedure would become impossible to recover.

Finally, the Options category provides multiple settings that allow you to further customize CCleaner’s behavior for automatic updates, cleaning tasks and then some more. A link titled “Online Help” is present in the lower area of the sidebar. It sends you to the official website where you can access CCleaner’s Quick Tour, FAQ, Documentation and Community Forum.

Pros

– Feature-rich but clean and friendly interface.

– Options are well organized and easy to use.

– The user is granted full control over which entries are affected by system and registry cleanup.

– CCleaner comes with an additional set of tools that allows you to uninstall applications, manage startup items, remove system restore points and permanently delete data.

Cons

– Since the program allows us to create system backups before deploying cleanup tasks, the System Restore menu should also have a Restore function, not just Remove.

– Multiple registry scans are required to detect all of the related issues.

Alternatives

CCleaner works like a charm, but as a PC optimization tool it lacks some features such as disk and registry defragmentation and automatic recommendations for improving system performance. For those who would prefer a more comprehensive product there are a few similar tools equipped with at least some of the above mentioned capabilities, such as TuneUp Utilities and Advanced SystemCare Free.

Conclusion

If you want a bloat-free, simple but at the same time efficient tool to keep your PC in top shape, CCleaner is one of the best tools to do it. Furthermore, it is completely free for home use and comes with a portable edition for those who wish to skip the installation process.