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Recommended Programs: CCleaner

CCleaner is a great program for cleaning out junk files on Windows-based computers. If all CCleaner did was clean out junk files, I would still recommend it, but CCleaner does much more than just delete your temporary internet files and dump your system cache. CCleaner also has an excellent registry scanner, a great disk and free space wiper, and a host of other valuable utilities to help you keep your computer tuned and running well.

CCleaner works great on Windows XP and Windows 7, and I would suspect that it will work well on Windows 8, but I cannot confirm that at this time.  For more information, or to download a copy of CCleaner, visit Periform.com.   You can download a free version for personal use. If you have multiple computer, you can buy the Home or Business editions, which also offer technical support for CCleaner if you need it.

Options and Settings

CCleaner is easy to configure to your specific needs.

Settings – Allows you to select your language, gives you the option to automatically run CCleaner at startup, gives you options for the Recycle Bin context menu, and gives you options for securely deleting files in one pass or up to 35 passes.

Cookies – If you subscribe to websites where you log into an account, or have configured personal settings, then you probably have a cookie for for each of those sites that store your information so that when you log back into those sites, your settings are restored. CCleaner allows you ro select those cookies and add them to a “Keep” list, so that they are not deleted when you run CCleaner.

Include and Exclude – Here you can add specific files to be included or excluded from cleaning.

Advanced – A list of options that control how CCleaner behaves.

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The heart and soul of CCleaner is of course, the cleaner. When you run CCleaner from the clean menu, it scans your computer and deletes junk files like Temporary Internet Files, history, cookies, and a particular file that browser hijackers like to use, the index.dat files. This is especially useful because the index.dat file is a hidden and protected system file used by Internet Explorer and other browsers. It’s a complicated file to delete. CCleaner deletes the index.dat file with any modifications malware might have made to it, and then restores it with a fresh and proper index.dat file.

For most cases, the default options are all you really need CCleaner for, but CCleaner gives you the option to select or deselect in the cleaning process.

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Once CCleaner has finished cleaning your computer, it produces a report of the files it deleted. As you can see in the image below, CCleaner cleaned out 1.7 Gigabytes of junk files from my computer. To put this in perspective, I run CCleaner on my computer about once a month. As you can see, I accumulate a lot of junk! Most people are really surprised by how much junk CCleaner finds on their computer the first time they run it.

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Registry Cleaner

As you install and uninstall programs, move or delete files, open and close files, or make changes to your computer, the Windows Registry gets modified. The registry is to Windows what the nervous system is to the human body. Every process and action that happens in your computer is controlled by the registry. Over time, the registry can “bloat up” with broken or orphaned entries, and this can cause problems and performance issues with your computer.

I want to stress a couple points about the registry, so please read carefully before running the registry scanner. First, you need to be careful about modifying the registry. One wrong move, and you could render your computer unusable or unstable. Definitely make a backup of your current registry before proceeding. You can do this easily by creating a restore point on your computer before running CCleaner. Second, you should only consider running a registry cleaner only if it’s needed. If your computer is hanging or crashing, then maybe run the registry cleaner, otherwise, it’s not really necessary. Finally, all that said, I’ve used CCleaner on hundreds of computers running Windows 98, ME, XP, Vista, 2000, and Windows 7, and I have never experienced an issue with the registry cleaner.  Definitely make sure that you back up your registry before running the CCleaner registry cleaner, but chances are very good that you won’t run into any problems.

See Also: How to manually backup your registry (For Windows XP, but the process is the same for Windows 7)

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CCleaner’s registry scanner first givers you the option to back up your current registry, and then scan the registry looking for those broken or orphaned entries, and presents them in an easy to read list. You can then opt to remove specific entries, or have CCleaner remove them all.

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Program Uninstaller

Honestly, I typically do not use CCleaner’s Program Uninstaller, unless the program I want to uninstall does not have a stable uninstaller or when Windows built-in uninstaller doesn’t display the program or can’t uninstall it. When that happens, CCleaner’s program uninstaller utility generally does a good job removing programs. I think it is interesting that I see programs listed in CCleaner that I don’t see in the Windows program uninstaller. That doesn’t happen often, but when it does, CCleaner to the rescue!

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Startup Programs

You can use Windows System Configuration utility to prevent programs from automatically loading in the background when Windows starts up. But it is kind of nice to have the tool right in front of you when you are giving your computer a CCleaner tune-up.

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System Restore

The System Restore menu in CCleaner shows you a list of current restore points on your computer. The only option available here is to remove the restore point. You might want to use this if you have just cleaned your computer and found viruses or malware on your computer, as they will most likely be stored in a restore point. It would be sad to see you get your computer all tuned up, only to restore it to a previous data and put a virus back in the system.

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Drive and File Wiper

This is a great feature of CCleaner as it gives you a great utility to securely wipe an entire  drive or just the free space. Most people don’t know that when you delete a file on your computer, it’s not really gone. The deleted file just gets a new file name and it is tagged as free space.  A simple utility can restore deleted files. To get rid of a deleted file permanently, you have to overwrite the space where that file was stored.  Even then, files can be recovered. So you have to overwrite them more than once. The Department of Defense states that a deleted file should be overwritten at least 7 times. CCleaner gives you the option to overwrite a drive or free space up to 35 times.

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Official Documentation

I hope you found this guide useful. If you need more detailed documentation, the official CCleaner documentation is available here on Periform’s website.  www.piriform.com/docs/ccleaner


Update: CCleaner Enhancer Add-On

After posting this guide, I found a forum that talked about a CCleaner add-on that reportedly added about 250 programs to CCleaner’s database. The forum is PCHELPFORUM, and it is a great resource for PC users.

Before I could recommend the CCleaner Enhancer add-on, I obviously had to try it out for myself. I went to CNet and installed the update, and then launched CCleaner. I looked at the Application tab and noted that there were more options available.  Then I ran CCleaner again, I had run it the previous day, and CCleaner found a whopping 838 MB more junk on my system, mostly in programs that I use frequently, such as Adobe Photoshop. After running CCleaner with the Enhancer Add-On, my Adobe products and my browsers are loading rocket fast. Very cool.

I can honestly say that I recommend this add-on for CCleaner!

The Web Atom’s CCleaner Enhancer adds support for more than 270 programs to CCleaner, the popular system and Registry-cleaning tool from Piriform. CCleaner Enhancer adds rules and definitions sourced from the Piriform Support Forum and other online resources to CCleaner’s built-in WinApp2.ini system. When you run CCleaner again, the new programs are automatically included and ready to be selected for scanning.

Download CCEnhancer at Cnet.com - This link opens in a new window or tab




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