Software

Five apps for degunking your system

When it's time to do a bit of system housekeeping, these apps will help you kick unwanted junk to the curb.

All systems, be they desktops, laptops, smartphones, or tablets need a little cleaning now and then. Sometimes the cleaning is just a simple riding various caches or deleting unwanted files. Other times, the cleaning is deeper and more involved. No matter what the situation, you need the tools to be able to rid that system of what ails it.

Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.

1: CCleaner

CCleaner (Figure A) has been my go-to tool for cleaning up various temporary files on Windows machines for a long time. There's a reason this tool comes up with such regularity with lists such as this — it's an outstanding tool. CCleaner cleans all browser caches, Windows system temp files (such as recycle bin, recent docs, temp files, log files, clipboard, error reporting, and memory dumps), Windows registry, and third-party applications.

Figure A

Figure A

Some would argue there are better registry cleaners available, but they're not associated with one of the most efficient system optimization/privacy/cleaning tools. The one drawback with the registry cleaner is that you will often need to run it multiple times before it registers as completely clean. Even so, all Windows users should have CCleaner on hand to keep their system free of cruft, gunk, and slop. CCleaner offers a free version as well as a paid version, which adds auto cleaning and support. You can see the feature matrix and pricing here.

2: Clean Master

Clean Master (Figure B) is an Android system cleaner that claims to clean junk (temp and residual files), free up RAM, scan and clean viruses, and remove unwanted apps (such as obsolete apks). Clean Master has a simple interface that completely removes any complication from the usage of the tool. From the main window, you can manage each task with the tap of a button. Should you be using a rooted device, Clean Master will allow you to uninstall carrier bloatware. Clean Master also includes a widget so you can free up RAM with a single tap. Rooted devices can move some apps to the SD card (through Clean Master). Clean Master is a free app installed from the Google Play Store.

Figure B

Figure B

3: ComboFix

ComboFix (Figure C) is the tool to reach for when nothing else seems to work. Its primary goal is to clean a system of malware — all malware. This isn't Malwarebytes or any other anti-malware tool; it's the mac daddy. Because it is such a powerful malware removal tool, you must use ComboFix with caution. Don't just double-click the icon and let it do its thing. First and foremost, your antivirus must be turned off before you run ComboFix. Running this app with your antivirus running can cause major issues. (I've tested this claim and rendered a system unbootable.) This app is ruthless in its removal of malware, so be very careful with it. ComboFix is free and available for Windows system (but not Windows 8.1).

Figure C

Figure C

4: BleachBit

BleachBit (Figure D) is an outstanding temp/cache file cleaner for both Linux and Windows. Beyond cleaning up various browser cache files, BleachBit has options for shredding files, wiping free disk space (to hide traces of files), and vacuuming Firefox to speed up its performance. BleachBit also cleans up temp files from apps like LibreOffice, Thunderbird, Transmission, and VLC, X11, as well as app thumbnail files and system files. BleachBit can be run safely as a standard user — or it can clean more thoroughly (but more dangerously) as the root user. BleachBit is free and open source.

Figure D

Figure D

5: SD Maid

SD Maid (Figure E) is another Android app that does a great job of keeping your device clean. The big difference between the two is that SD Maid is a bit more powerful. Think of this app as the ComboFix for Android and use it with caution. SD Maid offers the following features: File manager, search, app manager, removal of obsolete and left-behind files (corpses), system cleaner, database optimizer, and the ability to find out what's taking up space on your device. You can get additional capabilities if you buy SD Maid Pro ($2.39), inclucing AppCleaner (cleans data left behind by uninstalled apps), Duplicates (removes duplicate files), and a scheduler.

Figure E

Figure E

Degunk and conquer

If you have a system that constantly seems to be bogging down, give one of these tools a try and see if they don't get that device back up to speed.

What is your favorite degunking tool? Do you have a full-blown toolkit specially designed just for this task? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.

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About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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