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
4.15.4725
4.58 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 Baguadude on 13. March 2014 - 7:37  (114983)

Two other free cleaners to supplement either CCleaner or Privazer:

Wise Disk Cleaner (http://www.wisecleaner.com/wisediskcleanerfree.html)

Glary Utilities (http://www.glarysoft.com/glary-utilities/)

by Nymphus_A on 1. April 2013 - 2:48  (106716)

Can someone PLEASE help me out. Am running Windows 7. In my (Control Panel – All control panel items - Notification Area Icons), are some files that I have already uninstalled from the computer, including exe files, but they are still showing there. Is there any way to remove them. Also since they are there, where would they be hiding in the system. I thought I had removed them, including from (Program Files x86).

by jason on 1. April 2013 - 3:29  (106717)

Have you tried using CCleaner - and select the option "Tray Notifications Cache" under "Advanced"

Tray Notifications Cache - This cache stores information about any items that have ever appeared in your System Tray, and whether or not you have set them to Hide, Hide When Inactive, or Always Show.

http://www.piriform.com/docs/ccleaner/ccleaner-rules/windows-tab/advance...

You may need to restart explorer or reboot after running this for it to take effect.

by Nymphus_A on 1. April 2013 - 11:44  (106719)

I have EVERYTHING under the Advanced Section of CCleaner active, including Tray Notification Cache - but this has not helped.

by Anupam on 1. April 2013 - 17:13  (106727)

Hi, it will be better if you post about the issue on the forum.. it can be handled in a better way, and anyways, it's the proper place to post such issues :).

http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/general-computer-support/

by humpty on 22. January 2013 - 17:59  (104733)

I can't believe Bleachbit isn't included here. It cleans way more Megs than CCleaner and doesn't come with any dangerous registry cleaner.

by mr6n8 on 13. February 2013 - 21:56  (105379)

I tried out Bleachbit (portable) and had an issue with it on my 64bit Windows 7.

Tried 3 scans - just selecting for Firefox and it froze halfway through cleaning each time.

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