Best Free PC Cleaner

 
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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

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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

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Comments

by NewbieTone (not verified) on 19. January 2012 - 15:43  (87416)

I've just started to use CCleaner on my private laptop and I'm impressed. But now I'm sitting with my computer at work and starting to wonder if I can use it here too??? It's hooked up with other networks and I'm worried to do some raical damage to anything here... But on the other hand, this pc could really use the treatment! Anyone who can help me with this? Tips?

by MidnightCowboy on 19. January 2012 - 16:20  (87420)

Our recommendation is to contact your supervisor or systems administrator. Many employers restrict or prohibit the use of third party software on workplace machines and there may even be a clause in your Contract of Employment that refers to this.

by NewbieTone (not verified) on 19. January 2012 - 17:30  (87426)

Thank you very much :-)

by George.J on 10. January 2012 - 8:56  (86927)

What do you think about Wise Disk Cleaner?

by Jonathan5 (not verified) on 21. September 2012 - 16:43  (99563)

Either wise disk cleaner and wise registry cleaner always try to call home even with automatic updates disabled, weird enough.
Also, a new version of both these great pieaces of software is available almost every day, forcing users to uninstall the previous ones to install the new versions.
Obviously, once installed, new versions promptly call home, to tell mom they're safely arrived...

Avoid them.

by George.J on 11. December 2011 - 8:16  (84810)

In this Wikipedia article on OpenCandy it's said CCleaner uses OpenCandy. There's no mention of it in the licence agreement when installing CCleaner, neither in the standard installer nor the slim version. http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/builds . What's going on? Does it actually have OpenCandy? The installer seems to recommend Google Chrome.

by bo.elam on 17. December 2011 - 23:28  (85209)

Hey George, I believe the slim version does not have OpenCandy, since nothing gets offered. I guess this is a good reason to wait for the release of the slim version.

Bo

by Anupam on 18. December 2011 - 6:01  (85220)

There is no OpenCandy bundled with CCleaner. The Wiki information is false, or outdated, or something.

by jason on 18. December 2011 - 7:47  (85224)

Agreed. I have just rechecked the full CCleaner installer (ccsetup313) - and there were no additional offers for Chrome or suggestions via Open Candy. Obviously this could possibly change in the future, but right now - there is nothing extra in the full installer.

I recommend waiting for a few days after release of a new build - and getting the "slim" build from the "builds" download page - http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/builds

by Dragon64 (not verified) on 6. December 2011 - 2:43  (84467)

What became of Toni Arts' East Cleaner? It seems as good as Ccleaner

by Keith B.R. (not verified) on 30. May 2012 - 21:31  (94210)

Yes--what did become of that prog (Easy Cleaner)?? It rocked!!

Thx,

Keith
===========

by MidnightCowboy on 31. May 2012 - 4:06  (94223)

It is still around:

http://personal.inet.fi/business/toniarts/ecleane.htm
http://www.softpedia.com/get/Tweak/Registry-Tweak/EasyCleaner.shtml

Please note this though from the new website:

"www[dot]toniarts.com is no longer my web site, my web site now and in the future will be this (http://personal.inet.fi/business/toniarts). www[dot]toniarts.com (also .net and .org belong to this same group) is just cheating people for money, I've asked them to stop, repeatedly, with no luck. To get those auto-updates working on my programs you need to change the update URL from the options. Instead of www.toniarts[dot]com/EasyCleaner.ini use http://personal.inet.fi/business/toniarts/EasyCleaner.ini."

[Some links above are broken because they are understandably red rated by WOT (Web Of Trust)]

by btmk11 (not verified) on 30. July 2011 - 13:47  (76536)

I would also recommend these cleaners to your review:

PureRa (xp, vista)
http://raproducts.org/purera.html

Temp File Cleaner (98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista, 7 and Linux)
http://software.addpcs.com/tfc/index.php

Both will free up more space than other cleaners.

by humpty (not verified) on 28. September 2011 - 16:03  (80515)

Temp Files Cleaner is way too harsh and dangerous. It damaged my Goggle Chrome. Bleach Bit is much safer and does the job.

by Billings (not verified) on 12. July 2011 - 3:12  (75274)

Can CCleaner be configured to clean PaleMoon as it does IE or FF? If yes can someone explain how? Thank You very much

by GeofferyPancake (not verified) on 12. July 2011 - 3:59  (75277)

I think CCleaner recognises Pale Moon as Firefox, so should be doing the necessary cleaning. Pale Moon is an optimised version of Firefox after all. Although I have SpywareBlaster on a machine with Pale Moon on and that doesn't see any FF installed, which is a little odd. I use ATF cleaner as well.

http://www.atribune.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=25&Itemid=25

by btmk11 (not verified) on 30. July 2011 - 13:32  (76534)

Nope it doesn't. Piriform doesn't support non-standard mozilla browsers which has different folder structure. But here is how to configure ccleaner for Pale Moon:

http://www.piriform.com/docs/ccleaner/advanced-usage/ccleaner-ini-files/how-to-clean-user-data-from-non-standard-mozilla-browsers

Pale Moon's profile path is located in %AppData%\Moonchild Productions\Palemoon\Profiles\

As for the same reason with the SpywareBlaster. Spyware Blaster will also work if the profile is moved to %AppData%\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\ and back to original place but there is no proof could that work..

by Billings (not verified) on 12. July 2011 - 4:44  (75279)

Does your ATF Cleaner recognize PaleMoon as FF? Mine does not as it is still grayed out. CCleaner apparently does recognize PM as FF so thank you for that info.

by GeofferyPancake (not verified) on 12. July 2011 - 5:35  (75280)

No it doesn't..still a good tool to have around though. I use winapp2 in CCleaner as well which I personally haven't had a problem with, although you gotta be careful what you select to 'clean'.

by giantslor (not verified) on 27. May 2011 - 17:52  (72798)

A good companion to CCleaner and Empty Temp Folders is a program called Remove Empty Directories. It won't free much actual space, but it will declutter your hard drive, removing folders of uninstalled programs and other unneeded junk, making it easier to browse through your drive's contents. It can also delete 0 byte files. I was able to remove many hundreds of empty folders just in the Program Files and Application Data directories.

Download it here: http://www.jonasjohn.de/lab/red.htm

by BlueWhale (not verified) on 19. April 2011 - 4:50  (70506)

Is CleanUp! compatible with Vista? I have tried locating this answer on their website but it is not clear. Thank You

by MidnightCowboy on 19. April 2011 - 6:41  (70509)

CleanUp! has not been updated since 2007. If a particular Windows version is not included in the System Requirements, it is not supported. CleanUp! only supports up to and including all versions of XP.

by Sujit Mahapatra (not verified) on 19. April 2011 - 2:26  (70501)

I loved the .zip file which does not require any installation. I am bored of having to "install" each and every small utility which keeps hanging there with very limited usage. The cleaner software is way better and faster than windows "Disk Cleanup" utility.

by pia (not verified) on 1. April 2011 - 6:24  (69264)

I recently ran an analysis of "System Temporary Files" using CCleaner. The results indicated that 3067 files (1,463 MB) to be removed!! Is it safe to remove the entire lot?? Thank you for advice/recommendations.....

by jason on 1. April 2011 - 8:34  (69276)

Short Answer: Yep.

Long Answer: Typically files placed in the "Temporary" folders are intended to be used only for a short period of time - and programs if well written, shouldn't have any serious adverse effects if those files are deleted. That's the whole idea of a "Temporary File". Good programs automatically clean up their own temp files. I'd say cleaning out your Temporary files is a good place to start when freeing up disk space - and ok to revisit to empty the folder on a regular basis. ;)

by pia (not verified) on 1. April 2011 - 8:43  (69278)

Jason, thanks for prompt & clear explanation. I will now proceed to free up nearly 1.5 GB of used HD space!!! Yahoo!!!

by dazed&confused (not verified) on 21. March 2011 - 4:46  (68230)

how does one go about updating defraggler and CCleaner? I can't seem to find the answer in any of their forums?

by jason on 21. March 2011 - 5:44  (68231)

Just download and install the updated version of the program. The new version should replace the old version. If you want you can uninstall the old program first but it isn't necessary.

http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/update

Alternatively there is a convenient program for the lazy (like me) who would rather check and download and update for all of piriform apps - and download the slim versions automatically. (No Toolbar or Google Chrome browser installs)

http://www.jesconsultancy.nl/CCAuto-updater.html

by dazed&confused (not verified) on 21. March 2011 - 14:08  (68260)

Thanks so kindly for the reply :) Also, I'm running 32 bit Windows 7 and Service Pack was recently released. Is sp1 required for windows 7 to be secure and function efficiently? If I do decide to download it, is a service pack cleanup tool I can use. I know there was one for vista sp2, but i can't find one for windows 7.

by eclectic-uk (not verified) on 16. March 2011 - 16:54  (68004)

Just installed CCleaner. It installed Google Chrome without asking and changed that to my default Web Browser. Any program that does that has no place on my computers. It's gone and so have all Google applications

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