Thursday, August 16, 2012

CCleaner -- a good way to clean your Windows PC

When you use Windows, your system creates hundreds of temporary files and other files that are not needed on your system. For example, installing software does this. You also have cache items from your browser, your recycling bin is full, etc.

Before I start talking in depth about CCleaner, just wanted to touch on a few things when it comes to deleting files. When you delete files from browsers like IE, those files are not "really" deleted. They also exist in other directories that don't get touched. The Recycling Bin also does this, because if you view your Recycle Bin directory, you'll see about 4 different bins.

When it comes to deleting temporary files and other files that are not needed off of your computer, I use CCleaner. CCleaner is not just a file cleaner cleaner for your computer, it is also a tool because it does more things then just delete temporary files. It can also manage your installed software, your registry, scheduled tasks, IE addons, etc.

CCleaner is made by the folks over at Piriform. They also make some other software, but one of their most popular pieces of software is CCleaner. CCleaner stands for "crap cleaner".

Installing CCleaner
Installing CCleaner is real easy, and is only a few megabytes to download. You can always get  CCleaner by visiting CCleaner is offered as a free download with no support, or you can get it in different packages that contain support. They even support installation of CCleaner in networked (windows domain) environments.

There are two different mirrors to get CCleaner. You can either use File Hippo, or you can use Piriform's own mirror. Personally, I just use File Hippo's mirror.

During the install, you might also have the option of installing other software such as Chrome. This is one of their ways of keeping CCleaner free for you and me. If you want to install whatever they want to package, go ahead. If you don't, then don't worry.

When done installing, you can both view the release log and/or run the program. You can also finish the installer without starting the program.

Using CCleaner
Here is a picture of the CCleaner Window opened. I have modified my settings a bit in this picture. When you install, you will get default settings of course, so you won't have to configure CCleaner yourself if you don't want to.
Using CCleaner to clean your computer is very simple. You get a nice bar to the left with different sections of the program, and at the top you can see what version of CCleaner you are running and a little information about your computer's hardware.

To clean your computer, you can either click "Analyze" to see how much data from which is being deleted, or you can click the "Run Cleaner" button to run the cleaner without analyzing the data. I recommend you go though your options at the top to see what you are going to be cleaning, because I don't want you to accidentally erase your browser cookies, and in most cases you have to enter all of your passwords into the browser again. In most cases, you will have to close the programs that are open that are are getting ready to clean because some files still might be in use, etc.

Registry Cleaner
CCleaner also includes a registry cleaner. On the left white panel you can choose what you want to scan, and then you can click scan for issues to see if there are any issues. Now I don't personally use this because you could potentially damage your computer because the registry includes settings, registered programs, etc. I'm just showing this here to show that CCleaner does include a registry cleaner.

If you do decide to clean your computer, you can back up your registry to a .reg file that can be opened to add all of those deleted options back to the registry, as if your computer was never harmed.

CCleaner Tools -- Uninstall
As you can see on my computer, I have lots of programs installed. And yes, I do have Angry Birds installed on my computer. I haven't played it in about 4 months, though.
CCleaner includes a section of the program that allows you to uninstall software from your computer, much like the control panel would. The difference that I have experienced with CCleaner and the Windows Control Panel is that you can run uninstallers for software while CCleaner is still trying to pull icons and other info for the listings. You also have advanced options such as renaming programs (which are registered via the registry), and deleting the entry from the Windows registry (if you didn't already catch on, the installed programs are registered in the registry, this is why I say not to mess with it because it can mess up your computer).

CCleaner Tools -- Startup
With CCleaner, you can also change the startup objects for when your computer starts and when you log in. As you can see, I have disabled some options. At the top, you can also edit Internet Explorer's settings to what add ons start and you can also edit you system's scheduled tasks.

CCleaner Tools -- System Restore 
As you can see in the image above, I have a lot of restore points. Guess its time I clear out all of those restore points.
With the system restore tool, you can select and delete certain restore points. The latest one is always disabled for your safety. If you do want to mass delete system restore points, or even disable system restore to delete all restore points, or just do disable system restore, you have to do so in the My Computer settings. Be careful if you do that, as you are messing with your computer's ability to restore itself in case something bad happens. I guess I'll make a tutorial on that later.

CCleaner Tools -- Drive Wiper
As for the drives that I have listed, those are actually partitions. The C: drive is my Windows drive, and the U: drive is my Ubuntu drive.
CCleaner includes a feature where you can wipe your drives. The default options are shown above in the photos. The amount of drives listed will vary, but for me I have two (I'll explain in the caption). You can choose the free space only or the entire job, and you have the following levels of security (passes):

  • Simple Overwrite (1 pass)
  • Advanced Overwrite (3 passes)
  • Complex Overwrite (7 passes)
  • Very Complex Overwrite (35 passes)
The more passes you do, the harder it would be to recover deleted data from the hard drive. If you wipe your drive 35 times, then it is next to impossible to recover data.

CCleaner Options
CCleaner contains an options section where you can modify settings and perform other tasks. Instead of taking screenshots of every section, I am going to explain sections that are not really worth showing (unless you want me too, you can let me know in the comments below). As you can see from the image above, here you can modify basic settings. If you do want to have that secure file deletion, you can enable it here, so it is not just available for wiping a drive. By default, though, the setting is set on normal file deletion. You also see the option to run CCleaner when your computer starts.
In the advanced settings, you have advanced options. By default you shouldn't have to mess with these, but if you do mess up you can press the button to restore to default settings. If you have enabled options such as disabling warnings, you can re-enable them here.

As for the cookies tab, here you can manage cookies from all browsers, and you can even add flags for cookies to not delete, so for example you don't want your Amazon cookies deleted so you do not have to re-enter your password or something like that.

In the include/exclude tab, you can set options to empty/exclude custom folders and files.

About the CCleaner used in the tutorial
And of course, here is the info about the version of CCleaner used in this tutorial. Yes, I am a few versions behind. I would like all of you to know that I have upgraded CCleaner after posting this blog post.

If you have a Mac, there is a version of CCleaner for Mac. Visit for more info about this. I hope you all have enjoyed this tutorial, and if you have any questions or thoughts let me know of them in the comments below.