HDCleaner: system cleaner and optimizer for Windows
HDCleaner is a free software program for Microsoft Windows devices that lets you clean and optimize the operating system.
There is certainly no shortage when it comes to so-called cleaner applications for Windows. There is the popular CCleaner application, and also entire suites of applications such as Advanced System Care or System Mechanic.
HDCleaner 2017 falls into the latter category. It comes with a lot of tools despite its relatively small size of under 5 Megabytes.
The program itself is labeled as beta currently. While that is the case, it worked well and without issues on the systems I ran it on. Note though that you may not want to run the program in productive environments yet.
HDCleaner is offered as a portable version for 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows, and a setup version. We have downloaded and used the 64-bit portable version for this review.
The program displays a good looking interface on start. Some users may have troubles with orientation as there is a lot going on.
The very first thing you may want to do before you touch any other features of the program is to create a system restore point. You can do so directly from within the program. This lets you restore the system to the snapshot should things go wrong in one way or another.
HDCleaner loads the dashboard tab by default which lists the application's 1-click optimize prominently on the screen, as well as information on the hard drive health, bootup and shutdown time, and basic system information.
Note: The program interface is available in English, but some prompts and text bits have been in German during tests. The program supports English, French and German according to the developer website.
1-Click Optimize, Cleaning, and Optimization
1-Click Optimize runs scans using several of the included tools. This includes among other things a Registry and Plugin scan. You can click on the cogwheel icon next to each entry for additional information on that scan.
- Registry -- The Registry cleaner checks the Registry for temporary and incorrect data. It scans autostart, system drivers, firewall, fonts and more.
- Plugin -- The name of the scan does not really fit what it does. It is comparable to CCleaner's application cleaning option. It consists of a list of supported programs, web browsers, image editing programs, and Windows specific data locations such as recent documents. You may erase some or all of the temporary data using the option.
- Optimizer -- This module tweaks various settings of Windows. It may reduce the wait time before hung processes are killed, optimize the icon cache, or disable low disk space notifications.
You can run these three core modules individually as well. This is done on the Cleaning and Optimize tab. Just switch to it, and select the option to start the process.
You may be asked to customize the scan. If you select the Clean Registry module for instance, you are asked whether you want to run a full scan or a custom scan. A full scan checks for all supported data types, a custom scan lets you pick the ones you are interested in.
All items that the program found during its scan are listed afterwards. Each is listed with its identifier, value (if available), data, and the error that HDCleaner found.
You can right-click on any item to make use of context menu operations. This includes selection options, but also an option to open the Registry Editor to inspect the item.
The program displays icons that sort items into groups, but they are not explained anywhere. The Help file is not available yet -- it is a beta version after all -- and the website does not provide information on those either.
My best guess is that green items are safe for removal, while red or orange items need further investigation.
The optimize tab lists four additional tools that you may run independently from the rest:
- Uninstaller -- This allows you to remove, repair or change installed programs, updates or Windows Store apps. It is a basic uninstaller that won't run scans for leftovers.
- Disk Error Check -- Check the hard drive for errors and damaged sectors, and repair those.
- Autostart Manager -- Manage startup programs. The program catches startup folder and Registry items, but is not as thorough as Autoruns or other dedicated applications.
- File Recovery -- Lets you restore files that were deleted previously. May scan for all file types, or only images, music, documents, or video files.
The All Functions tab lists all tools the program supports. Apart from what has been mentioned already, you find more than a dozen extra tools listed on the page.
- Duplicate Files checker
- Broken Shortcut fixer
- Folder Sizer
- Disk Usage
- System Information
- System Programs -- A list of Windows system programs and their file names, and options to run those directly from HDCleaner 2017.
- File Splitter
- Defragment Disk
- Defragment Registry
- Search the Registry
- Disk Analyse
- File Shredder
- Encrypt Files
- Anti-Spy -- Disable some features such as sending of data to Microsoft, collecting data on the local system, or Windows features such as WiFi Sense.
- Security Settings
- Browser Plugins
- Backup Registry
- System Restore
- Process Explorer
HDCleaner 2017 is a promising program that ships with a truckload of tools. You can run these tools individually, or use the application's 1-click optimize feature instead for some quick optimizing of the PC.
The program is clearly still in beta, as it lacks help information and may display some menus and interfaces in German instead of the selected display language.
Ultimately, it suffers from the same issues that other all-encompassing programs suffer from: specialized programs are usually a lot better when it comes to the functionality.
The main thing the program has going for it is that it ships with all of these tools, so that you only need to run one program to make use of all of them. (via Windows Club)
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