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Five apps that will clean up Internet Explorer

Brien Posey discusses five utilities that can help you to clean up Internet Explorer and cover your tracks.

Even if you are not in the habit of visiting questionable Web sites, you may occasionally find it necessary to clean up Internet Explorer in an effort to protect your privacy and/or improve the browser's performance. This article discusses five utilities that can help you to clean up Internet Explorer and cover your tracks.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic Photo Gallery.

Five Apps

1. CCleaner

CCleaner is a free tool for cleaning up Windows and Internet Explorer. This versatile tool fixes registry errors, removes temporary files, and things like CHKDSK fragments and memory dumps.

When it comes to cleaning Internet Explorer, CCleaner clears the browser history, and removes cookies and temporary Internet files. The nice thing about this utility (besides its versatility) is that it doesn't have to perform a blanket deletion of your cookies. You have the option of specifying cookies that you would like to keep.

2. Free Internet Eraser

Free Internet Eraser is a free tool for cleaning Windows and covering your tracks in Internet Explorer. This utility covers all of the basics, such as deleting browsing history, cookies, and temporary Internet files. A particularly nice feature is the Schedule option, which allows you to automate the clean up process. However, if you want the option of securely removing deleted items from your hard disk then you will have to upgrade to the professional version.

3. System and Internet Washer Pro

System and Internet Washer Pro is a utility for removing Internet Explorer data such as Web browsing history, temporary files, and cookies. In addition to its support for Internet Explorer, the utility also contains a cleaner for Windows and a pop-up blocker.

Each of the utility's functions are presented on a separate tab. These tabs allow you to select the individual components that you want to clear and click an Erase button. A Quick Erase tab lets you perform Windows and Internet Explorer cleaning simultaneously. A nice touch is the Disk tab, which lets you securely remove deleted files from your hard disk.

System and Internet Washer Pro sells for $34.95, but a free 15 day trial is available for download.

4. RealTime Cookie and Cache Cleaner

RealTime Cookie and Cache Cleaner is rather unique among Internet Explorer clean up programs in that it attempts to clean the browser in real time, while the user is browsing the Internet. While the clean up process does not happen in true real time, it does happen about once a minute and seems not to disrupt the browsing process. This utility works well on Windows 7, but did not work correctly on Windows 8.

RealTime Cookie and Cache Cleaner sells for $9.95, but a free 30 day trial is available for download.

5. Tracks Eraser Pro

Tracks Eraser Pro is a browser cleaner that goes way beyond just taking care of the basics. For starters, this cleaner works with Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox, and other browsers. The utility also includes a test feature so that you can test an erase operation before committing to it. Other nice features include a file shredder and my personal favorite, a boss key that lets you quickly hide a browser screen when the boss (or anyone else) walks into the room.

Tracks Eraser Pro costs $29.95, but a free 30 day trial is available for download.

Also read:

About

Brien Posey is a seven-time Microsoft MVP. He has written thousands of articles and written or contributed to dozens of books on a variety of IT subjects.

14 comments
murraye3
murraye3

Bleachbit has been a nice cleaner for temp files, but beware of over-reaching with the selections available depending on your machine.

orovan
orovan

The best way to clean IE is not to use it. Use Firefox of Chrome instead and learn how to control their settings. Set them to always start in In-Private (Firefox) or Incognito (Chrome) and go over all the settings, making sure everything is set to not keep any data from browsing sessions. As an added bonus you will not have to restart your computer to install a new version of a web browser.

emailadsspam
emailadsspam

I read the same statement over and over about "deciding which cookies to keep". When I open Internet Options and go to what Windows calls "Objects" what I see may as well be written in Chinese. I can't tell one of these "objects" from another. Whether it is a tracking cookie or whatever. So I delete them all. I have been using CCleaner for ten years or so with no problem at all.

mdrake
mdrake

Internet Explorer already includes a tool to clean it up – it is legally required to come standard and is called 'uninstall'. Anything less is not enough! Internet Explorer has been the bane of my existence for 10+ years and I don't know that I'll ever be able to forgive. In fairness later versions do show improvement but there is still the insistence on proprietary methodology and limits to their support of standards so there will still be extra work to support IE OR a need to hold back on standards that all of the other major players readily adhere to.

gfinms
gfinms

I agree with markku.niskanen. I tried CCleaner, and the system performance degraded. Also, about the Boss Key. We all know, Boss Key or not, the Boss knows what you are doing. The system logs, will out you.

markku.niskanen
markku.niskanen

It is amazing to see something like this still being published. Anybody with the basic knowledge about Windows (I have been writing windows software as early as 1990) knows that the utilities like CCleaner should be avoided. As a REAL Windows specialist said: "At its best CCleaner does not help at all and when things go bad it will render the system useless. The latter has happened to a couple of friends. Anybody with some maths talents understands that removing a few dozen keys amounting to a couple of kilobytes from a binary tree containing at least tens of thousands of values will not result in even microseconds of search efficiency. As one analyst put it about five years ago: "It may result in, say, 1% performance improvement in some very rare cases but generally the change is either zero or too small to be measured". Memory optimizers, registry cleaners, misc. erasers etc. are the snake oil of our time. Even disk defragmenters have gone practically obsolete during the past few years.

mountjl
mountjl

I found this depressing enough a read anyway, wondering why anyone would need much beyond the default clearing of browsing and temp files afforded by IE and disk cleanup. And then the truth outted. The "boss" button. Way to advocate inappropriate use of institutional resources. A poor article.

SlowPCHelp
SlowPCHelp

Excellent suggestions I use these types of programs everyday when I write for http://www.fixingaslowcomputer.com but surprisingly all but CCleaner are new to me so I can't wait to try them out and let you know what I find. Then again I use Internet Explorer mostly for work which is usually safer. As an IT professional I can tell you that IE has gotten a lot better as far as safety and speed! (Plus I really like the way it looks).. Whatever you do, DO NOT download toolbars they make your system more vulnerable! Use the new disable feature in IE liberally!

333239
333239

I don't have a problem with CCleaner and the like, but IEs Browsing History Delete button gives me enough options to delete just what I want to. It even lets you delete all cookies except for sites in your Favourites so you're not having to retype passwords for everything you use regularly. Very simple.

david.dibiase
david.dibiase

I have seen the "boss" button used since my days on an IBM TSO terminal playing Advent (adventure) on the Mainframe while I was waiting my turn in the run queue for my 360-assembler job to run.. My boss knew about the button because he used it as well. I don't know about your system but, your browsing performance might get slower since all the expected cookies are gone (rest of details skipped) CCleaner has gotten bigger and bigger, like many products but, it is still useful to clean out some unnecessary files used by IE

Chaz Chance#
Chaz Chance#

The boss knows why you suddenly do something when you see him. S/he may not know exactly what, but your guilty action is noted,and it is immediately suspected that you are doing something you are ashamed of.. A good boss accepts that you browse a little, and check your mail, unless they want to know why you have poor performance. Tech Republic members tend to be professionals, so it is unlikely they have anything to hide. The whole "covering your tracks" and "boss key" thing is unnecessary to people who behave professionally.

brainpup
brainpup

I'm not sure which version of Ccleaner you've been using there "markku & gfinms" but the ones I've been using over the last 6 years have NEVER messed up, slowed up, locked up, or in anyway degraded the performance of any of mine or of any of my business clients computers that I do maintenance/upgrading on. Granted the performance improvements are sometimes small, but if you have somebody who is short on RAM and your trying to limit the amount of temporary files you have cached, clearing them out regularly helps to significantly improve web browsing times. Ccleaner is also a lot faster at removing all of your history, temp files, etc. than the tools that are built into IE/Windows. "removing a few dozen keys amounting to a couple of kilobytes" ....hmmm, last night when I finished my evenings use of "web surfing" ( roughly a 2 hour session ) I ran Ccleaner and even though I have tweaked some of the settings , it found 365,919,052 KB of temp files from Internet Explorer in 17,426 files , plus 650 MB of more junk I was leaving behind and removed them all in 4.893 seconds. ( this info was copied/paste from my log files in Ccleaner ). I've even used the Registry cleanup tool in Ccleaner and its never degraded my systems. I'm not sure of who you two might work for that your trying to "dog" Ccleaner so badly, but I say your analyst of the Software is way off base. (NOTE : I don't work for Piriform either ) ....and even if you can do a lot of the same things manually thru internet options/regedit/msconfig etc. etc. , the convenience of Ccleaner make it a "must have " for any IT doing computer maintenance/upgrading.

Greenknight_z
Greenknight_z

Used CCleaner for years, never caused problems. Its reputation as a very safe program is well-deserved. Security scans and defragging will definitely be faster without all those useless files, even if overall system performance is little changed.

ron.dondelinger
ron.dondelinger

My experience concurs with that of Greenknight and brainpup, in where I have never had issues arise from using CCleaner, or "Crap Cleaner", as it was called before it became politically correct. Since 2004 and version 1.xx, I have run CCleaner on hundreds of Windows workstations, both personal and business. CCleaner is my one-stop utility that 1) effectively uninstalls troublesome applications, 2) allows me to identify and disable/delete startup processes both in Windows and in web browsers, and 3) deletes temporary folder content and files in seconds that would take me minutes (and then some) to find and remove manually. The crew who developed CCleaner know their way around the Windows Registry; no issues encountered when removing obsolete/corrupted entries from all flavors of Windows XP/Vista/7. I appreciate the text log generated by the Registry cleaner component, which often reveals the uncommon (suspicious) registry entry or folder location of some mystery process. Very helpful when tracking down a virus or crapware application. So yeah, this is a complete and unabashed endorsement of a product that has saved me countless hours of maintenance and troubleshooting over the years.