The recent release of CCleaner 2.30 provided us an opportunity to take a closer look at the popular temporary files cleaning tool, which we last review in October 2009.
Note: The most recent version of CCleaner is 5.5x at the time of writing this update. Piriform, the company behind the program has improved it gradually making sure it is compatible with new versions of Windows that got released. The main gist of installing and using CCleaner remains the same however. End
CCleaner is mainly used for deleting temporary files and cleaning history files on the Windows operating system. Its customizability and features make it one of the best tools to perform these maintenance tasks.
CCleaner is offered in three different versions. In addition to the main download which provides a standard application installer, there is a portable version available as well as a slim installer.
The standard installer will install a CCleaner Yahoo Toolbar if the option is not unchecked from the installation dialogue, while the portable version and the slim installer do away with the toolbar. It is therefore recommended to install or run one of these in lieu of the standard installer.
The main interface is divided into the four tabs: Cleaner, Registry, Tools and Options. It is usually a good idea to look at the Options tab first in order to configure some general rules that apply to all the cleaning jobs. For instance, to ensure that files cannot be recovered it is possible to configure secure file deletions (aka file wiping) instead of normal file deletes.
This option only makes sense if a conventional hard drive is selected. The options can also be used to select cookies, files and folders that should never be cleaned. It is also possible to define additional directories or files that should be cleaned whenever the cleaner is being executed. This is helpful for temporary file directories which are not included by default in CCleaner, portable application folders and folders from removable devices.
The heart of the application is the Cleaner tab which provides a list of applications and their data storage locations to be cleaned. This includes temporary Internet files, cookies and the history of several web browsers, system files such as the Recycle Bin and log files and Windows Explorer information such the recent documents or thumbnail cache.
Additionally, third party applications such Adobe Reader, Quicktime and Java as well as Windows related applications like Wordpad and Paint can be cleaned as well. Each entry can be selected or unselected individually, which is one of the strengths of CCleaner. For instance, it is possible to clear the browser history and cache but keep the cookies and saved form information.
Before cleaning, CCleaner provides an analysis detailing the total estimated disk space freed as well as the data storage requirements and files of every item that has been selected for cleanup. The Run Cleaner button will delete the files and data on the computer system, either normally or securely depending on the user's choice in the options.
All issues and problems that are found during the scan will be displayed in the results window. CCleaner will display a query to the user that contains an option to backup the data before it is deleted from the system. It is possible to clear all issues at once or take a closer look at each issue individually.
The Registry tab displays options and tools for cleaning the Windows Registry. It contains all the common items which are normally included in Windows registry cleaners, such as missing shared dlls that have remained on the system after uninstalling software on the PC, unused file extensions, installers and obsolete software. It is possible to keep every option checked or remove some of them in case they should not be included in the registry scan.
The Tools tab contains a software uninstaller, startup programs manager and a system restore manager.
CCleaner is an excellent program for regular maintenance tasks. Its customizability is one of the unique features that it offers. It is great for users who want to clean up data that is not included in the default listings. CCleaner is a great program that belongs in every system administrator's and technician's tools collection.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.