Best Free PC Cleaner

 
Other Language?
  Read this article in Spanish
In a Hurry?
  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide
Introduction
Over time unnecessary files accumulate, which can be removed with a disk cleaner.
Discussion

My first choice here is CCleaner, a product that started off as pretty basic but has continued to improve to the point where it is now very close to the best in its class regardless of price. It's very effective in freeing up disk space by removing unused and temporary files, cookies, Recycle bin entries, Windows hot-fix files, history and cache files in many applications such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, Safari and hundreds of others. Note you can configure preferences for browser cookies that you want to keep during a clean (in case you don't want to delete them all), which is a convenient feature for many users.

You can define custom rules to include or exclude files, folders or registry keys from cleaning (Temp folders are a good candidate to include), You can wipe free (unused) space from the disk (including MFT data), and CCleaner supports secure deletion of data (1, 3, 7 to Guttman 35 passes).

There are options to extend CCleaner adding new programs for software that doesn't come with the base install. Some of these options are explained in the Documentation  You can also remove options (programs) that you do not want to be cleaned from the list of available programs that can be cleaned. The options can include adding to or removed from the built in detections that come with the base CCleaner install. This flexibility I have not yet seen in any comparable file cleaning tool.

CCleaner has been around for many years, and over that time it has been more actively developed than any other file cleaner software. (It's not unusual to see a new release every 4 weeks). Piriform release new versions to support new software when it comes out (like new versions of the major browsers) and with features to support changes to the operating system - eg. When Windows 7 was released support for cleaning "Taskbar Jump Lists", and even using "Jump Lists" and Windows 7 style progress bars in their CCleaner.

The CCleaner Version History lists the new features and fixes introduced with each release

Many other file cleaner products were developed for Win2000 or WinXP and haven't seen an update since. If you are running the latest OS, Browser or Office Suite etc - it is best to use software that was developed and tested with the latest software that you are using.

I would like to see a tutorial or wizard for first time users when they run CCleaner. Too often the complaints that CCleaner deleted something it shouldn't, turn out to be the user isn't too familiar with what the options mean or what the impact of cleaning temp files and settings from their system. Even selecting every possibly option should still not damage windows in any way - as CCleaner is very conservative in what it will remove, but for some first time users, running  CCleaner can seem to be a scary step to take.

However, if simply freeing up disk space is your objective then CCleaner is hard to beat.

A good companion to CCleaner is Empty Temp Folders. It's not as complete a product as CCleaner and it's been a while since it was last updated, but I find that it always manages to clean more temporary files than CCleaner. That's why I suggest you use both.

Another cleaner with a solid following is Steven Gould's CleanUP!.  It's compact, well designed and very well maintained and is a real alternative to CCleaner. In use I've had a couple instances which caused problems on my test PC, but this may have been specific to my setup. Certainly the feedback I get from users has been uniformly excellent.

In a related category is PC Decrapifier. Its job is to remove unwanted trial versions of programs and services that come preinstalled on new PCs. You can remove all this stuff manually, but PC Decrapifier does this automatically. It can't remove every bit of junk from every computer, but the list of products it will remove is quite impressive.

 

Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 

Quick Selection Guide

CCleaner
5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
thorough cleaning, fast, portable
would benefit from more detailed information explaining all options for new users.
http://www.ccleaner.com/
4.11.4619
4.54 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Microsoft Windows 8, 8.1, 7, Vista, and XP.

A portable version for installing on USB Thumb drives, and a "Slim" installer-only version with no toolbar are available at
http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/builds

CleanUp!
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
reasonable alternative to CCleaner
4.5.2
332 KB
32 bit only
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
95 - Vista
PC Decrapifier
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
removes unwanted trial version of programs preinstalled in new PCs
http://www.pcdecrapifier.com/home
2.3.1
1.59 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Microsoft Windows 8, 7, XP and 2000
Empty Temp Folder
3.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
good complement to CCleaner
discontinued
2.8.3
651 KB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
95 - Vista

Tags

free file cleaner, free disk cleaner

Back to the top of the article.

 

Share this
4.305555
Average: 4.3 (72 votes)
Your rating: None

Comments

by Anonymous on 18. April 2008 - 11:50  (113)

I like System Cleanup http://www.xs4all.nl/~franckey/franckey/ it does not need installing and cleans up all your drives

by Anonymous on 15. May 2008 - 20:13  (536)

I have heard that CCLEANER only cleans the user folder that you are logged into. Can any confirm whether this is the case?

by jason on 15. May 2008 - 23:59  (541)

Yes. It's a default restriction Windows places on accessing other users profiles/folders. To clear out files or registry settings specific to another user profile, you need to be logged in as that user before running one of the file cleaners (such as CCleaner). If the user running CCleaner does have the permissions to delete from another user folder - there is a settings page in CCleaner to include/exclude folders/files from the cleaning process. (NB. Cleanup! has an option to clean for all users - but is still restricted by user permissions when running)

by Anonymous on 16. May 2008 - 21:10  (646)

I always grab CCleaner's "Slim Build" so I don't even have to worry about unchecking the Yahoo toolbar. It's also the link I send to people so they don't end up with the toolbar either. You can find the slim build here:
http://www.ccleaner.com/download/builds

The only difference as far as I know is that the toolbar is absent.

by Anonymous on 27. June 2008 - 12:05  (3193)

I've been banging my head against a wall with exactly this problem: we have 25 users on two PCs with small hard drives. IE and Firefox caches are filling the drives. Custom folders doesn't work for us, because you have to specify the complete path to clean, i.e. you would need 25x3 entries on each machine. Windows doesn't allow wildcards within paths, unlike Unix. I'm still looking for a solution to this problem.

by grimbles on 2. July 2008 - 2:20  (3431)

I'm really surprised 'Free Internet Window Washer' from 'Eusing' is not mentioned here at all. I have been using it in conjunction with CCleaner for over 2 years.....it's a very good product.
Another worthy of note is 'Ss Disk Cleaner' from 'Ss-Tools'......all the tools offered there are efficient, very easy to use and have a portable version.

http://www.eusing.com/Window_Washer/Window_Washer.htm
http://www.ss-tools.com/

cheers...JIM

by Anonymous on 10. July 2008 - 0:51  (3928)

Can you empty the caches manually? I think Firefox can be set to delete caches, history and cookies every time you log off.

by Anonymous on 15. July 2008 - 23:09  (4293)

Empty Temp Folders does not appear to be Vista compatable but will run on XP. Vista users should NOT attempt to use it:

http://www.softpedia.com/progViewOpinions/14-4-60,.html

by Anonymous on 24. July 2008 - 22:56  (4890)

I find ccleaner a superb tool for expelling temporary internet files but perhaps lacking in precise instructions in such areas as disposal of cookies (which are a bit of a mystery to me ) and how to decide which to keep. The volume of internet files never ceases to amaze me but these are seen off with the click of a button. An excellent programme.

John

by ArchaicHonor on 1. August 2008 - 19:53  (5322)

I concur. Slim build is available if you scroll down and look at the other versions. It's the CCleaner without the ads of Yahoo toolbar.

Also, a portable version of CCleaner exists for those who don't like installing things. I believe it's also available on their site (don't remember the url, just google it). I use it when I'm cleaning up other people's computers (along with a lot of other things of course).

by Anonymous on 8. August 2008 - 13:05  (5801)

z-soft and revo also provide file cleaning, they work for me.

by Anonymous on 9. August 2008 - 8:08  (5840)

CleanUp! offers the option of cleaning all user accounts on a computer, whereas CCleaner only cleans up the current user that is logged on. If you want to clean all the accounts on a computer, CleanUP! is a better option.
(sorry for the duplicate post...typos made the last post unclear)

by Anupam on 9. August 2008 - 8:47  (5842)

Argente products are being mentioned a lot here nowadays. The products are really good, or some person or group trying to pull out a gimmick?

by gizmo.richards on 11. August 2008 - 4:17  (5913)

This Argente guy has been spamming the site in several different categories. I have no idea whether his products are any good but these ads posing as comments doesn't endear him to me.

I have removed his comments - Gizmo

by pconrad on 11. August 2008 - 21:00  (5935)

Can you, Gizmo, or somebody else from this site,
test
CCleaner (http://www.ccleaner.com/download)
and
Sweepi (http://www.yooapps.ch/?c=produkte/download_details&downloadid=20&l=E)
against the Disk Cleaner provided by Argente? (http://argentesoftware.blogspot.com/)

Are CCleaner and Sweepi better than the Disk Cleaner provided by Argente?

Best regards,

P.C.

by Anonymous on 12. August 2008 - 19:47  (5984)

I suggest that if anything is tested it is objective. Setting up a testof just two specific programs against one specific program is silly. I have never even heard of Sweepi, by the way! But there are tons of programs one could test for a more objective assessment: (MajorGeeks.com and Snapfiles.com lists) Advanced Disk Cleaner, AMUST Disk Cleaner, ATF Cleaner, Baku, CCleaner, CleanCache, CleanMOCache, CleanUp!, Heatsoft Clone Cleaner Lite, CloneSpy, CM DiskCleaner, Disk Cleaner, DrvCareVista, DustBuster, Empty Temp Folders, Eusing Free Internet Window Washer, Find Junk Files, Find Unused Files, G-Lock Temp Cleaner, HDCleaner, iISystem Wiper, Ki-Washer, MMH Cleaner, Moo.Trashes, MRU-Blaster, Privacy Mantra, R-Wipe & Clean 7.7, Sweepi, System Cleanup, Tiny Disk Cleaner, Winnow Cleaner Freeware Edition, Wise Disk Cleaner.

By the way, Argente Disk Cleaner was reviewed by CNET editors in June, with 5 stars:
http://www.download.com/Argente-Disk-Cleaner/3000-2144_4-10834566.html?t...

Okay, now I'm sick of hearing about Argente, so stop posting about it! But I still think Ccleaner is just as good, at least neither does any better on my system.

by Anonymous on 12. August 2008 - 20:24  (5985)

MajorGeeks has a warning about Steven Gould's "CleanUp! 4.5.2". In some configurations of Windows XP, it finds certain required system files and deletes them if you have "Scan local drives for temporary files" enabled and you need to use Microsoft Office 2003. It has a few other notes too about Outlook Express, Windows XP Professional 64 bit edition, and its list of cookies is case sensitive.

http://www.majorgeeks.com/CleanUp_d4895.html

Also, it says that it supports Windows OS through XP, but it does not say that it supports Vista anywhere that I looked:

stevengould.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=167&Itemid=223

by Anonymous on 13. August 2008 - 1:26  (5991)

Basically, what you are hinting at is this: do not download a cleaner and run it without knowing what you are doing. If you are not sure about the settings (particularly the ones that are set "off" by default to prevent inexperienced users from screwing up their computer), then do not use them. In this case, "Scan local drives for temporary files" is set to "off" by default in CLeanUp. So, we should not blame CleanUP for the user's indiscretion.
Note: CleanUP has a demonstration mode so you can analyze what will be deleted with certain settings before you actually delete the files.
Having said that...it may be nice to have some "fail safe" mechanism by which known important files cannot be deleted (e.g. a whitelist).

by Anonymous on 13. August 2008 - 2:58  (5997)

Exactly! And that it is either not Vista compatible or not specifically designed for Vista (possibly needing compatibility mode or something) yet.

by pconrad on 13. August 2008 - 17:07  (6016)

"Setting up a test of just two specific programs against one specific program is SILLY".

1) Try to be polite!

2) After "CCleaner", "Sweepi" is the second most used Free File Cleaner by Security Experts.
Don't you know it? Check at wilderssecurity and wikicastlecops!

by Anonymous on 13. August 2008 - 17:03  (6050)

Advanced Disk Cleaner, AMUST Disk Cleaner, ATF Cleaner, Baku, CCleaner, CleanCache, CleanMOCache, CleanUp!, Heatsoft Clone Cleaner Lite, CloneSpy, CM DiskCleaner, Disk Cleaner, DrvCareVista, DustBuster, Empty Temp Folders, Eusing Free Internet Window Washer, Find Junk Files, Find Unused Files, G-Lock Temp Cleaner, HDCleaner, iISystem Wiper, Ki-Washer, MMH Cleaner, Moo.Trashes, MRU-Blaster, Privacy Mantra, R-Wipe & Clean 7.7, Sweepi, System Cleanup, Tiny Disk Cleaner, Winnow Cleaner Freeware Edition, Wise Disk Cleaner.

With the exception of CCleaner and Sweepi
this list has nothing but -Outdated and Obsolete- CRAPWARE!
It was nice to see again software from the PAST!

by Anupam on 14. August 2008 - 14:45  (6105)

Well, after hearing a lot about Argente products here... i decided to search for them. Argente Disk Cleaner has been given 5 stars by editor at Download.com, and has been praised in the review.

I installed Argente Disk Cleaner and used it myself. It has got two modules. One is the disk cleaner and other is privacy/history cleaner.

I selected the same options for Argente privacy cleaner, as i have for CCleaner. The amount of space freed by both the programs is exactly the same. As compared to CCleaner, Argente dosent show the disk space before deleting the files. After deleting the files only, it shows how much disk space has been freed.

The disk cleaner module in Argente searches for files with several extensions like .log, .tmp, .bak amongst several other extension which can be chosen from the options. But you have to be careful which files u want to delete, coz some files maybe of use.
CCleaner dosent have the disk cleaner, as far as i know. But, the program Empty Temp Folders has got disk cleaner similar to Argente, and works in a similar manner.

So compared to CCleaner in terms of privacy/history cleaning... they both clean the same amount of space. So its your choice if you want to use which product. CCleaner has registry cleaner, and uninstall utility, which are quite good. Argente dosent have both, but comes with disk cleaner.

I didnt still use the Argente Registry Cleaner, so i cant say anything about it. It has got 4 stars rating according to 13 user votes on Download.com.

So, if you want to try a new program with a disk cleaner, go for Argente. I still prefer CCleaner. I havent tried out other cleaners yet. Maybe i will give CleanUp! and Sweepi a try to see how they are.

by jason on 15. August 2008 - 8:41  (6143)

The "Disk Cleaner" feature is nothing more than erasing all files on the disk that match a certain filespec. CCleaner also has such a feature under Options->Exclude and Options->Include which allows you to specify files and folders and registry paths to include or exclude from a clean. Most people choose to leave such options alone, because as you point out, there is an element of risk deleting all files (*.tmp or *.xxx for example) from your hard disk - where *.tmp might be critical Template files for example. The standard for the use of file extensions isn't always agreed between applications. A carefully considered approach is always recommended when using such options.

Also the belief that "the more files that get deleted - the better the disk cleaner" is obviously wrong. Control over what gets deleted, recoverability, usability and ease of use, and performance all play a part in deciding the best tools. In reality a file cleaner performs a fairly simple and straightforward task - the success or otherwise of a file deletion is easy to determine. Most tools allow you to extend or reduce the scope or criteria of files that will be "cleaned". Claims that one file cleaner is better than another simply because it is configured to delete a larger quantity of files by default is a fairly weak standard to judge the overall merits of the program. If it were the case - choosing to delete *.* would produce the best File & Disk cleaner in history. ;)

by Anupam on 15. August 2008 - 12:36  (6153)

I fully agree with you.

"the belief that the more files that get deleted - the better the disk cleaner is obviously wrong" ...... Really well said.

I tried Cleanup! and Sweepi too. I found Sweepi to be quite a good product. It deserves a mention in the list. I found it much better to Cleanup. Cleanup dosent give much options as compared to Sweepi. Sweepi gives more control over what u want to delete. Its a comparable product with CCleaner.

by pconrad on 16. August 2008 - 7:48  (6190)

You have to take into account that some mostly advanced users do Not see things this way:
When I use a File Cleaner, I want from it to remove as much clutter as it can find from my PC.

If you configure it properly, Argente Disk Cleaner can find and remove more junk files
than what CCleaner does.
Now, if you are affraid of erasing files that will cause you problems,
you leave the default options and see no difference between CCleaner and Argente Disk Cleaner.

In my case, Argente proved to be more configurable, and it removed more clutter
than what CCleaner used to remove.

If you want to compare CCleaner with Argente, then you must do it against the two (2) Argente products: Disk Cleaner & Registry Cleaner.

I believe that the Argente team (Disk Cleaner & Registry Cleaner), if properly configured,
offers a, by far, better result than CCleaner.

Cheers!

by jason on 16. August 2008 - 9:08  (6193)

If you configure it properly, CCleaner can find and remove just as many files as Argente or any other file cleaner program. Trying to portray Argente as being gifted with some special ability to delete files others cannot is simply misleading.

CCleaner is just as configurable as other file cleaners - if you want to search and remove files of a particular filetype or from a particular folder - or remove all files from a particular folder (such as a temp folder) then just go to the options page - and tell CCleaner (via "include" and "exclude") the folders and filetypes you want removed.

Further CCleaner has a much cleaner interface - and page layout is more intuitive (for example the cookies window in both programs - CCleaner everything can be done from the one screen - Argente you need to swap between two windows). Argente - In places the english translation is unclear or awkward - and there is the feeling that the first button you click on will commence the deletion - and that there is no way to "Analyze" or "Check first" what is about to happen if you proceed. Some of the commands & Buttons are discovered by accident as they look more like a legend or key to a graph. The privacy cleaner - the first option is "Clear History and Privacy Now" - I am hesitant to select hoping there is an intermediate screen showing me what is going to be cleared. The 'feature' to hibernate the system seems to be a feature that doesn't belong - I don't know that it is essential to have in a file cleaner program.

Overall Argente feels cluttered, awkwardly translated, risky, slow, and perhaps tries a little too hard at overkill. Both programs are capable of cleaning the same files and privacy data from your PC. Both can be extended to scan for certain files and filetypes, empty specific folders but in terms of a better user experience performing what should be a routine task - CCleaner appears to have put more focus into usability and design (and feeling like you are always in control).

If you want to feel like an "experienced user" while someone is looking over your shoulder, Argente is probably the more complicated in appearance. If you just want to get the job done, quickly and with a minimum of fuss, CCleaner is the way to go.

by Anonymous on 16. August 2008 - 17:37  (6206)

I agree with Jason's comments:
His statement If you configure it properly, CCleaner can find and remove just as many files as Argente..." is undoubtedly true.
When I tested the Argente products myself, I found that the registry cleaner did outperform CCleaner, Eusing, and Easycleaner on my PC, but not by much. It did partially eliminate some obsolete Trendmicro registry entries (after Trendmicro was uninstalled) that the other cleaners did not. It did not remove all of the obsolete entries (which I did manually with regedit).

I also prefer the CCleaner interface. Anyhow, based on my own trial, I think argente did not offer enough for me to continue using it. To each his own.

by Anonymous on 21. August 2008 - 10:14  (6714)

nCleaner
http://www.nkprods.com/ncleaner/

-Has anybody use it?
-Is it as good as CCleaner, Sweepi, Argente Disk Cleaner etc.?

by JonathanT on 21. August 2008 - 10:36  (6715)

Hi

I have tried it once and it was way too aggressive. I prefer CCleaner a lot more.

by Anonymous on 22. August 2008 - 8:19  (6745)

There is a serious bug in CCleaner. There is no way it can be configured to delete temporary files (.tmp) in the root of any drive. To test this, you must manually create a file in the root folder and assign .tmp as it's extension. Run CCleaner and you will notice that the file will not be deleted. However, if you transfer the .tmp file to a subfolder, it will be cleaned. I don't understand the logic behind this behaviour.

Gizmos Needs You

Gizmo's Freeware is Recruiting

 We are looking for people with skills or interest in the following areas:
 -  Mobile Platform App Reviews for Android and iOS
 -  Windows, Mac and Linux software reviews       Interested? Click here