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.

 

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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.
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.
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
Microsoft Windows 8, 8.1, 7, Vista, and XP.

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
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

Having used CCleaner since 2001 I found it to be very safe, however after installing and then uninstalling Autodesk AutoCAD I decided to do a manual search of the registry and found several mentions of AutoDesk. I found a free program that i have been using for a few years called Auslogics Registry Cleaner and noted a feature that i had never used before where i could enter the program name (or publisher name) and it shows all the keys that contain the search criteria. Autodesk left 13,965 traces, and, by using this function was able to remove the lot very quickly with a couple of clicks

CCleaner is good but it still leaves tons of crap and trash in the registry that you do not need or require especially when I had over 1.6m registry keys that get read before the machine is ready for use.

The reason why CCleaner is so highly rated is because it provides so many useful cleaning options without taking risks with registry cleaning, as you alluded.

Auslogics Registry Cleaner (I'll call it ARC from here on), by comparison, was the most aggressive registry cleaner I tested for the last update of the Best Free Registry Cleaner article (2014 ,Windows 7). I went back to my test data for Windows XP (2010 and 2012) and found a very similar result. It also provides some of the least descriptive information on the registry entries being deleted. It should provide more information. In its favor, it didn't pad out the number of issues reported by including higher keys when it deleted a whole registry branch. The same applied to MRU (most recently used) and history items but that was because that useful option was only available in the paid version.

ARC usually removes a much higher number of entries that relate to the operation of Windows rather than the operation of specific user applications. While the removal of some of those keys may be relatively trivial (e.g. the application path for CMMGR32.EXE which doesn't appear to have been used since Windows 2000) it is difficult for the average user to determine what is safe.

I wouldn't recommend it because of the need to be relatively expert and its less trustworthy business model (bundling, paid features, etc), which others have mentioned here.

Potential users should be aware that Auslogics Registry Cleaner is ad supported. It contains all sorts of garbage users do not want or need and will attempt to change your system settings. The main purpose of this program is to induce users to purchase their commercial software, which they also do not need. :) MC - Site Manager.

The only ads that I have got from Auslogics is the Get it Free on Start up. I run a PC as a home server as well as my own PC, two laptops and several android devices and there has been no crapware, malware or such garbage reported by Avira Pro or Malwarebytes (also checked the installation file with Virus Total) which has not identified any such things as being malicious' It has never attempted to change my system settings.over the years so i don't know where you got that from.

Please list the "Garbage" that users do not require or need. If you are one of those people who just want to click through the installation without reading the installation at each step then you deserve all you get

I certainlydo not want a registry of some 2m plus entries

Over time, Auslogics Registry Cleaner has been bundled with Conduit, Ask Toolbar, OpenCandy, BoostSpeed and others. This is why reputable download sites such as Softpedia and MajorGeeks list it as "Ad supported". The nature of bundled components is changed regularly and recycled along with "clean" periods to further confuse users researching product details online.

I have never used a so called registry cleaner in my life nor have I ever seen one make anything faster. What I have seen though is countless Windows machines rendered unbootable by the use of such software and I'm not alone.
https://blog.malwarebytes.org/social-engineering/2015/06/digital-snake-oil/
http://www.howtogeek.com/171633/why-using-a-registry-cleaner-wont-speed-...

You can have tens of thousands of redundant registry entries and their presence will not slow down your computer, neither will removing them make it any faster. If your system has become corrupted to the point that it slows down then professional help is the only way to fix it (possibly). MC - Site Manager.

I applaud the efforts of those critics to prevent users from falling for the blandishments of those over-promoting the benefits and understating the risks of registry cleaners. Newer versions of Windows have dramatically improved registry performance and removed critical bottlenecks. Unless I had a problem, I wouldn't use them, just as the critics recommend. But in their eagerness to save us from gullible ourselves, those critics make obvious errors. First, there are published tests results that do show performance improvements and these are easily verified if they bothered to test registry cleaners themselves. Second, they make generalizations which they universalize. These rules become untrue under specific exceptions. For example, increases in registry size can increase startup times. It makes sense that doubling the registry file sizes will increase the time to read the registry data into memory. And while a larger registry may work just as fast as a smaller registry, it is using memory that could force more memory contents to be swapped out to disk thereby slowing the entire system.

Am with Remah here too. I have seen performance improvements on computer's, even mine that have run Registry Cleaners and File Cleaners [mind you the true ones]. I could really see the difference in start-up times, file seek times, reducing errors while re-installing softwares [especially games] and For those who say that Registry Cleaners are the one's that messed up the system, it's mainly because

1. Their computer was already messed up from downloading unwanted material [keygens, cracks, patches, visiting unsafe websites] to start with

2. Downloading fake software's [click-baits], performing unnecessary survey's etc

3. Their system is affected by malware from any of the above or other means.

There are a few good file cleaners, and very few good registry cleaners that you can trust, and does their job as intended. Even BSOD's are resulted from software's that have bugs [I have experienced the same in download managers, pdf-viewers etc], and this is not limited to registry cleaners only.

Could not agree more. In my early days i would have been doing all three until i realised the cost in both money and lss of time on pc. Since then i have only downloaded from sites such as source forge and always run a scan on the download and have always used a top professional Security suite (currently Avira)

I use Auslogics for the simple reason of finding the crap which trial programs leave (eg the 13k plus ofAutodesk) and cleaning with a couple of clicks

As for the people that say you should not use a Registry cleaner I have two theories .

1.. They are terrified of messing up, which I completely understand
2 ... They are scared f finding all the crap they have downloaded

Me, I will stick with what I have

Hi Remah

Thanks for a balanced reply because i find that people have their favorites and rule out all others without giving it a chance, I know as I used to be one of them. People also comment on things that they have never used (and this is not a dig at any comments on here), this goes for all sites that I use for downloading and searching for better options this is one reason most of my software comes from Sourceforge.

I would like to see Clean Master tested. Seems to be new (and what I read was, that they only did it, because CCleaner jumped to cleaning Android devices).

http://www.cmcm.com/en-us/clean-master-for-pc/

Clean Master is a product of Kingsoft Corp.

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).

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.

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

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.

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.