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Be Cautious About
Computer Cleaners

In recent years computer cleaning software has been polluted by disreputable companies the same way that toolbars and anti-virus software have been.

While most computer cleaning software does exactly what it says it will do (ie remove e-rubbish from your PC to help speed it up again and free up hard disk space), there are a small handful of computer cleaners out there that don't.

Instead, they'll take advantage of the opportunity to access your Windows Registry to load your PC with adware, spyware or other malware if you install and run them.

So we recommend that you double-check any company offering a "free scan" of your PC to determine if it needs a good clean or not (How? Simply by Googling them to see what other people have to say about them, and/or by making sure the developers have real-world contact details on their web site).

Some free scans are quite legitimate. But be aware that not all of them are.

The companies and products we list on this page certainly are all 100% legitimate.

But if you have any doubts at all, then set your mind at rest by Googling them too.

Other Computer Cleaning Software Resources

Computer Cleaning Software
Background: Windows is an inherently messy operating system and every time you use a Windows PC you leave a small pile of electronic rubbish on your hard drive after you finish. This can include temporary program and Internet files; broken registry entries; log files; your recycle bin's contents and similar things.

Over time, this accumulation of e-rubbish can gradually degrade your computer's performance. But a computer cleaning program will find these Windows cast-offs and remove them for you. Usually in the blink of an eye.

Apart from getting better performance and freeing up valuable disk space, though, another good reason for using a computer cleaning program is to completely erase any traces of your activities.

This may be important if you use a shared computer in a family situation. Or just a useful safeguard if you happen to work for an employer who seizes and scans PCs trying to find something amiss so they can dismiss staff rather than pay out a fair redundancy (a management technique now being taught in some business schools, we're sad to report).

Because roughly 95% of the world uses some version of Windows and 100% of Windows users suffer from these types of e-rubbish problems, there are a lot of commercial computer cleaning programs on the market. And they range from quite excellent to remarkably poor.

But we've found 6 terrific ones that can do a cleanup job for you that's every bit as good as the cleanup a commercial product could execute.

Here's what they are:

 

Popular Computer Cleaning Software
CCleaner
CCleaner is a wildly popular computer cleaner (175 million+ downloads!) that makes it very hard for commercial software makers to gain any headway in this market segment. This software will clean up all the temporary files generated by any of the three big browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera); Windows' own temporary files (ie Recycle Bin, recent documents, temporary files and log files); and similar files created by an increasing number of third party applications. CCleaner also has a Windows Registry cleaner with advanced features to remove unused and old entries including file extensions, ActiveX controls, ClassIDs, ProgIDs, uninstallers, shared DLLs, fonts, help files, application paths, icons, invalid shortcuts and more (and the Registry Cleaner comes with a comprehensive backup feature so you can take a full backup of the Registry before you clean it and can restore everything if you make a slip-up). Best of all, CCleaner is simple to use and fast to run (it generally only takes a second or two to flush out your computer at the end of a session). We were very impressed with this software and think you probably will be too. CCleaner runs on all versions of Windows from Win95 to XP and it's freeware. Get CCleaner.

 

Zappit System Cleaner
If you'd prefer more direct control over your PC clean-ups and don't want to touch your Registry, then Cloudeight Software's Zappit System Cleaner is a worthy alternative to CCleaner (above). Zappit has a basic Safe Mode that erases only "safe to delete" files (ie cookies, temp files, recycle bin etc) and an Advanced Mode that gives you full access to its cleanup options and can remove a much wider range of files, folders, and settings (ie clipboard data, temp folders, recent documents list, search history, run history and more). Zappit also has some other neat features such as a Schedule Wizard to perform system cleanups automatically at a set time you nominate; the ability to sort your Favorites (automatically or manually) and your Windows Start Menu alphabetically (it even sorts sub-folders in the start menu); and the ability to set the programs that start up with Windows (great if you've gradually accumulated so many that start-up has become a major chore). Zappit only takes a few seconds to perform a cleanup and it's fun, fast, and easy to use for both beginners and more advanced users. Zappit runs on all versions of Windows from Win98 to XP and it's freeware. Get Zappit System Cleaner.

 

Glary Utilities
If you want to go beyond basic system cleanups, Glarysoft's Glary Utilities are well worth your inspection. This powerful software offers an extensive number of utilities to improve your system's performance and protect your privacy which you can select from its well-organized interface. It cleans unwanted junk files and removes invalid and broken shortcuts, freeing up valuable disk space. Its Registry Cleaner allows you to scan, remove, and back up faulty Registry entries. You also can wipe out online and Windows traces (although Internet Explorer is the only browser supported at the moment). Glary Utilities also offers tools to manage start-up programs and memory optimization to speed up your PC's performance. And if you're concerned about privacy, you'll appreciate its inclusion of a US government-standard file shredder to securely delete data (most other cleaning programs only flip the deletion bit on a file header to delete the file, which means it can often be recovered if the disk space it occupies hasn't been over-written or the file has been moved in a defrag operation). Yet for all this power, Glary Utilities are surprisingly easy to use. The software runs on all versions of Windows from Win98 to Vista and it's freeware. Get Glary Utilities.

 

Ss Disk Cleaner
SS Tools' Ss Disk Cleaner is a workmanlike disk cleaner that removes all your computer and internet activity files, along with all traces of where you've been and what you did while you were there. Like other computer cleaners, Ss Disk Cleaner will clean out your Recycle Bin, the Windows Clipboard, temp folders and the Recent Documents list. The software will also clean the tracks of many popular applications and flush out your browser's cache, cookies, history, typed URLs, index.dat and autocomplete files. Ss Disk Cleaner scans your disks quickly and one nice touch is that after a scan it will display the garbage files it's found so that you can decide which of them you want removed or not (which is great if you want full control of the cleanup process). A second nice touch is that it's available in both an installable version and a portable version (ie a standalone .exe file). Ss Disk Cleaner runs on all versions of Windows (from Win95 to Vista) and it's freeware. Get Ss Disk Cleaner.

 

Eraser
If absolute security is very important to you, Sami Tolvanen's Eraser is an advanced computer cleaner which allows you to completely remove sensitive data from your hard drive by overwriting it several times with selected patterns (which will make the files irrecoverable). Like other system cleaners, Eraser will flush your Recycle Bin, Windows temporary files, Internet files and cookies (you can decide which cookies you want to keep) and similar junk. But Eraser will also let you pick other files or directories (including those that were only previously "deleted" by flipping the deletion marker bit) and totally shred those too. This is very powerful software and because of its potential to make a genuine mess of your hard drive you really need to know what you're doing to use it (ie it's not for amateurs). But on the flip side, it's won a huge number of awards; is very well documented; has a dedicated support forum; and is very well built. Eraser runs on all versions of Windows (from Win95 to Vista) and it's freeware. Get Eraser.

 

Onyx For OS X
Finally, the problems that beset Windows users also affect OS X users (though to a lesser degree). French company Titanium Software make a terrific set of utilities that will not only clean up temporary files on Macs, but also optimise and reset OS X performance. These features include the ability to change the dock, the dashboard, Safari, login settings, and more. OnyX adds more features than are normally found in the menus of these applications and allows you (amongst other things) to speed up Safari's loading time and customise your login text. You can also perform routine maintenance and system cleanups through its menu and automate common tasks as well. Onyx is available in different versions for Mac OS X 10.2 to 10.5 and it's freeware. Titanium Software's site is available in both English and French and there's a dedicated support forum too. Get Onyx For OS X.
This page last updated: 06-Aug-2008

 


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