CCleaner

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Description

In the area of PC maintenance and problem solving, most people will already have an antivirus product. Many users will also have protection against malware and spyware, but a large number of computer owners are still blissfully unaware of CCleaner.

Features

There is a clue in the name about the overall purpose of the software, and its previous name was the rather humourous ‘Crap Cleaner.’ The product was renamed CCleaner to have a family-friendly appeal, and this free software product can bring a range of benefits once it has been installed. It ‘cleans’ a computer of unwanted data and software, and in doing so it speeds up the general running of the system. As people are installing and using more software packages than ever before, the amount of redundant data that is left behind is increasing.
If this is left untouched, users with smaller hard drives may notice a serious reduction in speed and efficiency. CCleaner can do much more than remove data, it can also perform a number of maintenance functions in a far more efficient way than Windows. For example, when uninstalling a piece of software, CCleaner can remove a lot of useless data that would otherwise be left behind.

The main feature of CCleaner is the hard drive tool, as this performs a thorough scan of many files and folders. The software identifies and removes anything that may be unnecessary, and users can then benefit from the extra hard drive space. It inspects the folders that are used by web browsers and other system utilities, as these will often create unnecessary data. Moving further down the list of tools, there is also a registry cleaner that scans the registry and removes references to items that are no longer required. Making manual adjustments to the registry can be perilous for the average user, but CCleaner performs a comprehensive set of checks that ensures that only redundant entries are removed.

For an extra layer of safety, CCleaner can also save a backup of the registry to fix any issues – the backed up file can easily be restored from within the CCleaner interface. The uninstaller is useful, as it displays a complete list of software that has been installed on a computer, along with ‘quick links’ to remove items. If a computer has become slow to start-up, CCleaner also shows a list of programmes that are configured to load when starting Windows, giving the user the opportunity to remove them from this process.

In reality, the main alternatives to CCleaner are already installed on most computers – these are the standard tools that come with any Windows operating system. However, in many cases this free software is far more efficient and user-friendly. If users are concerned about forgetting to empty the Recycle Bin, CCleaner can be integrated into this Windows screen as an option. The perilous nature of editing the registry file has already been mentioned, but the importance of allowing this software to analyse it before making changes cannot be understated!

Comparison

There are other tools that can be downloaded, such as 360 Amigo System Speed-Up, however these products often need to be combined with other utilities in order to get the full range of features. Other options may only have a limited number of ‘free’ tools, and Free Windows Cleanup Tool has a different layout that may increase the chances of accidentally deleting a vital file or piece of software. When choosing software for PC maintenance, there really is little point in paying for a tool that can do the job for free.

Conclusion

CCleaner is highly-regarded by a range of users, and this has pushed the software to the top of the download charts. Beginners appreciate the fact that everything can be carried out with an extra layer of reassurance that all changes are safe, while more advanced users can benefit from the customisable options and ‘tweaks’ that are on offer. Piriform has created a product that keeps up with the ever-changing nature of computers, and a brief look at their website shows their commitment to regular updates and bug fixes.

Although official support is only available to people that buy the upgraded version, help can always be found from other users in support forums – there will usually be people that are familiar with CCleaner. In any case, the majority of the software’s functions are self-explanatory, and every process is explained in concise English. In the unlikely event that a mistake is made, it is also relatively straightforward to roll-back the registry file to a previous state. Once a user has finished running through the set of CCleaner tools, they will be left with a faster and more efficient computer, as well as a greater amount of free hard drive space.
If a system has become painfully slow and sluggish, it is well worth running CCleaner before going out to buy a new computer.

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