Software

Five tips for using Ccleaner to degunk your system

Ccleaner is one of the best all-around tools for keeping your computer optimized and free of the junk that accumulates from Internet surfing, obsolete apps, and other fragments that clog up your system.

There are a lot of tools out there that handle a lot of tasks, from antivirus tools that also clean your drive of temporary files and make you coffee to tools that promise to "make your computer faster." But as far as I'm concerned, few tools can make as much of a difference as Ccleaner, at least on a machine that's not infected by a virus or malware. Ccleaner is easy to use and will keep your computer cleaner, more secure, and running faster. It achieves this by safely removing temporary Internet files (and other means of tracing Internet activity), cleaning up the Windows registry, and removing temporary files and recent file lists (MRUs) from various applications.

But even though Ccleaner is a simple tool to use, that doesn't mean you should just jump in and start cleaning everything without a bit of thought. Here are some things all users should consider before and during the use of this powerful tool.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Analyze before running the Cleaner

I know a lot of admins who just fire up Ccleaner and hit the Run Cleaner button without doing an analysis first. Yes, this is a fast method of getting rid of temporary Internet files. But there's no way of knowing what's going to be deleted (until it's deleted) and there's no way of knowing how much free space the deletion is going to create. Make sure you hit the Analyze button first. Then, after you read the report, hit the Run Cleaner button. Using Ccleaner this way ensures that nothing is deleted that shouldn't be deleted. Also, after you run the analyzer, you can look at detailed information (by application) and then add exceptions directly from the list.

2: Set up cookies you want to keep

When you run the Cleaner, cookies are deleted. By default, cookies are retained from Google and Yahoo, but other cookies might need to be retained. To manage this, click on the Options tab and then on the Cookies button. From that window, any cookie currently on the system can be selectively added to the exclusion list. By adding these exclusions, you don't have to worry about important cookies disappearing after each run of Ccleaner.

3: Always back up the registry

No matter how reliable Ccleaner is and no matter how many successful registry cleanups it does, never do a cleanup without first backing up the registry. Ccleaner will go so far as to remind you to back up the registry every time you run a registry cleanup. If the registry is not backed up, one of those corrupt or missing registry keys that Ccleaner fixes might not really have needed fixing. If that key is then broken and was not backed up, the issue caused by Ccleaner could become catastrophic. Fortunately, Ccleaner makes backing up the registry as simple as a couple of clicks.

4: Use the tools to manage startup applications

Ccleaner comes with a bonus: It lets you enable, disable, or remove programs from startup. I have always found this method of managing startup applications far easier than using the standard Windows method. What I like most about this feature is that startup applications can be enabled and disabled without removing them completely. This means if you need to temporarily prevent an application from starting up, it's easy to do by going into the Tools tab, clicking the Startup button, selecting the application to be enabled/disabled, and clicking the appropriate button. When the application needs to be re-enabled/disabled, reverse the process.

5: Use the uninstaller

One of the best aspects of Ccleaner is the ability to remove applications from within it. It typically just starts the uninstaller, but I have found that running the application uninstaller this way ends with fewer registry issues than when I uninstall from the Windows Add/Remove Programs tool. And if there are registry issues after the uninstall, registry cleanup is only a couple of clicks away.

Great tool, used wisely

Ccleaner is more than just a tool to clean the registry or empty a computer of temporary Internet files. It also makes it easy to remove applications from startup and remove applications from the machine. Just make sure you use this powerful tool intelligently to avoid rendering your machine unusable.

Additional reading

About

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 getjackd.net.

80 comments
alfredan
alfredan

use krojam cleaner it is good.

essex133
essex133

If you insist on still saving cookies to enable you to automatically log in to your favourite websites, then yes, you will have to go to Options>Cookies and select which cookies you wish it to keep. But a far more secure way of saving login details is to use a Password Manager like LastPass, as they ENCRYPT your login details and will only automatically log you (or anyone else) in AFTER you have typed in the Master password :-)

essex133
essex133

If you back up the registry each time you run CCleaner, before allowing it to 'fix all', it is very easy to restore the registry simply by double clicking on the backup file. To find out which 'fix all' did the damage, start by restoring the last registry backup and reboot. If that hasn't solved the problem, restore the next latest and so on, until the problem has been fixed. The next time you run the registry clean up in CCleaner, check that the old problem hasn't re-manifested itself asap. If restoring registry backups fails, use Windows System Restore to try to fix the problem. And if that fails, restore your entire system from your latest system image - assuming you're astute enough to have created some! Because if you create a system image immediately after doing a clean install and then again immediately after uninstalling all the bloatware and setting up your user accounts and folder locations, you should NEVER have to 'completely reinstall your system from scratch again :-)

midlantic
midlantic

I frequently am refurbishing laptops from our users (service techs) in the field. In many cases the laptops come with several active user accounts since they get passed around a bit. If you use CCleaner be advised that it only cleans the temp files from the user that is currently logged in. If you have a machine that has more than one user account then log into each one and run the software. Good freebie, I use it all the time, but like the others said be careful - back up (especially the registry) before running. It did break some applications but having the back up made the fix quick and easy.

whendersonii
whendersonii

Jack, I am very sad to see that you left out the most important item, /auto. Create a local group policy to run ccleaner at startup with the /auto switch. %programfiles%/Piriform/CCleaner.exe /auto NOTE: path may not be correct, be sure to double check Ccleaner runs using the setting from the .ini file, which stores the parameters from your most recent manual run; so if you do not want ccleaner to empty the recycle bin at every reboot then run it manually with the option unchecked.

finny
finny

I use CC daily. One of the best features has not been mentioned- the ability to selectively remove system restore points, which can restore hundreds of megs of disc space. Whenever I create a new restore point, I delete the oldest of my three points. System restore files grow on their own due to the Previous Versions system, the oldest can get very big. Click on Tools, then System Restore. Works great! TOM

wentz1
wentz1

I had a java program aaa, could not find an easy way to clean up. Used Ccleaner, renamed and deleted the program. Been using for years.

JBMentor
JBMentor

I wish it had more features and tweaks, as well as detailed reported output what happened behind the curtains after I clicked the magic Fix button. That's why weapon of choice is Auslogics BoostSpeed.

orgeronm
orgeronm

I worked on a customer home desktop recently that had CCleaner on it. Glary Utilities Free does everything that commenters here write about CCleaner but with a much simpler, easy-to-use interface. I routinely use it to untangle the registry, delete temp files, update startup items and even find malware (before a full scan with AdAware if no other AV is installed) with GUs 1-Click Maintenance. I have not had a problem yet with it on customer computers or my own desktop. Plus, GU has a Memory Optimizer that frees RAM that is no longer being used on a real-time basis. I set it and the GU main window to open on Windows startup. Like doing a hard drive wipe without losing any programs, settings or files!

b4d93r
b4d93r

My weapons of choice are CCleaner, Your Uninstaller Pro, Sysinternals Page Defrag and MyDefrag. This is mostly for 32 bit WinXP and lower systems. I just recently upgraded to Win7 64bit so I'm currently evaluating other tools. I like CCleaner because I've never had issues with it and I can automate it. Your Uninstaller Pro is great for uninstalling and worth the price although I may check into Total Uninstal because of some of the features it has that Your Uninstaller doesn't. Sysinternals PageDefrag is great for that little extra boost but I haven't tried it with 64bit systems so I'm not sure how well it will work. I recently discovered MyDefrag after having to find something new. I used to use Abexo but apparently they are no more. With these 4 tools i've kept my WinXp systems running like a dream and have had little problems with those systems. I also use CCleaner at work which has helped resolve several issues that would have normally taken hours to fix.

Krishna66
Krishna66

I'm using Revo and CCleaner for years without problems (XP and 7). Now I have added CCEnhancer and Glary Utilities. I do not back up my registry and not needed. Blaming CCleaner or Revo or any other Cleaner is not fair. Boot Scan your system thoroughly. The Problems lie elsewhere.

mlffloyd
mlffloyd

I'm not even sure what the registry is-months ago I used CCleaner and had a bad experience. I thought I followed all the suggestions, but maybe I didn't. I want to use it again but should I just leave things be.

eyesak
eyesak

JDWitmer, See the post above by JCitizen named "Actually" - Scan for malware. I just now updated CCleaner to v3.05.1409 - downloaded from Cnet. No ill affects - Avira sees no problem with it.

JDWitmer
JDWitmer

When I tried to download Ccleaner from the "official" source, my anti-virus program, Kaspersky went ape. It quarantined the program. What gives?

natureIslandtech
natureIslandtech

ccleaner is one of the best cleaning & optimization tool i have ever used i never had a problem with it, how ever i personaly tested ccleaner & it top the best up to 100 over the others so i recommend it to all use with care or better of use it in default mode if you are not clear what you are doing. Malcolm Buckmire (follow on twitter http://twitter.com/MalcolmBuckmire) Technician CommonWealth of Dominica OECS W.I

jack.klaber
jack.klaber

I also use their free Defraggler. Seems to be equally good, although haven't compared it against other such utils.

valdaz1
valdaz1

Formerly known as "Crap Cleaner" I too have been using this tool, with Confidence - over the last (4) four Years without any problems. It was Released onto the "World Wide Web" in [approximatly] 2004 (v1.16) for "FREE" (8) Eight Years later with Version "3.05" it's still free.

Cynyster
Cynyster

I use ccleaner as a log-off program (simple batch file in the local group policy) set the setting conservatively, and those heavy "use" computers in your enterprise can be kept cr*p free.

Old Timer 8080
Old Timer 8080

I use Crap Clearer ( not PC and never will be ) on a daily basis to keep my policy of cleaning all Internet " extras " off my system..I can do without " help ". After I build a system, I run TweakNow Registry Cleaner to give that system the extra punch... I've actually found rootkits by watching CC outputs. Unusual reappearing files/registry entries signal problems.... DRM, who needs it? It's MY computer....

charleswdavis6670
charleswdavis6670

As a volunteer, I clean up 4 to 8 computers a week. When things seem to be so screwed up that the next task is reinstall the operating system, I run CCleaner and don't worry about the consequences. Many times that cures the problem and I can then apply all updates and return a working system to the user.

rgjr61
rgjr61

I've used CCleaner since it was still named Crap Cleaner. Never, ever a problem with Cleaning or registry issues. It is such a benevolent registry "cleaner" that very few hard issues are removed. Just benign entries, from my experience, and I do read the entries first, or used to till I became comfortable with using CC. I run so many security features on my network and back-up the reg often. Maybe I've just been lucky. Either way, it is a great little piece of Freeware. Robert G.

rgjr61
rgjr61

I've used CCleaner since it was still named Crap Cleaner. Never, ever a problem with Cleaning or registry issues. It is such a benevolent registry "cleaner" that very few hard issues are removed. Just benign entries, from my experience, and I do read the entries first, or used to till I became comfortable with using CC. I run so many security features on my network and back-up the reg often. Maybe I've just been lucky. Either way, it is a great little piece of Freeware. Robert G.

DanMach
DanMach

I used this, with some reservations, until the latest update. The download from Hippo, sent my firewall/spyware programs into a frenzy. Perhaps the fact that CCleaner ferrets through my machine, gives the impression that it is a trojan. Any comments would interest me. regards, Dante

learn4ever
learn4ever

and only once had an issue. I trust it for XP and have begun testing on Windows 7.

Peter9009
Peter9009

One other caution: do not run cleaners if it is possible that pending updates are waiting to be installed on reboot. Rebooting a pc before running cleaners would ensure that any pending updates have been applied and that their temporary files are no longer needed.

ppatnode
ppatnode

The correct name of the program is "CCleaner" and the company behind it is Piriform. The current version is 3.05.1409 and can be downloaded at no charge from this site = http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/update?v=3.05.1408&l=1033 The program runs on Windows 7, Vista and XP - both 32-bit and 64-bit editions. A little background always helps.

pgit
pgit

I wasn't aware ccleaner keeps google and yahoo cookies by default. I never pay it much attention, I handle cookie policy with the web browser. I wonder if those are the only default "keepers" or if there's others, like bing, or even wikipedia...

SteveWisc
SteveWisc

Thru PAINFUL experience, I have made reg backup part of my "must do" routine. I ALWAYS back up the registry *before* using CCleaner. When customers have reg problems, 99% of the time it stems from use of reg cleaners and the customers ignorance of the importance of backup.

fs8837
fs8837

For the last two years i have been using Norton Utilities , which appears to do a fine job when it comes time to clean out the browser , temp files and fix any registry keys that need to be removed after a program has been uninstalled , most times i have used the programs unistaller file accessed from the folder !

loghl
loghl

sorry - is wiki as good a place as any to get a grip on registries??

greytoma
greytoma

Better to have something like Revo Uninstaller Pro that keeps track of installations and removes them about as cleanly as possible. For cleaning out temp internet files etc I use Cleanup!. Also keep C: drive images just in case.

Sean Byrne
Sean Byrne

So far I have not experienced any issue with CCCleaner and it's definitely one of the best for recovering free space as an SSD owner, where free space really matters. I have had cases where it recovered over 5GB of free space and in one case had over 10GB of content in my Windows Temp folder. However, I have heard of past issues running CCcleaner on PCs with DRM crippled content, such as music or video purchased or downloaded that has copy protection, where the DRM meaning becomes Dumpster Ready Media. ;-) For example, after running a clean, affected DRM content would have to be reauthorised to play, which would be a problem if the number of allowed reauthorisations has been reached or older content where the content provider has taken its DRM servers offline.

Madsmaddad
Madsmaddad

Mostly common sense stuff. I do use Ccleaner on my wife's machine, and she always complains afterwards that automatic logins to some well used sites are gone. I'll take your hint and set those cookies now.

JCitizen
JCitizen

but wasn't ready for Windows Home Premium x64 a couple of years ago; the defrag utility hosed my system and I had to reinstall. I'm sure they probably ironed that out by now; but my system is working so well now - I hesitate to try it again.

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

...you should rather leave things be. Using CCleaner if you aren't even sure what a registry is, is like getting under the hood of your car when you aren't even sure what an oil filter is. With respect, rather take it to your friendly neighbourhood garage mechanic (robber baron though he may be) because he at least - er, hopefully you will check him out first - has an inkling... likewise, ask around for a reputable computer techie and consult him/her.

pgit
pgit

HP is like everyone else. loading boxes up with a TON of crapware at the factory. It's the very concept that gave rise to CCleaner, including the original name.

JCitizen
JCitizen

maybe that will even prevent startup folder placement by Zeus variants. Not sure about that one, but I think they start out in the temp files and wait for a reboot to infect the startup folder.

pgit
pgit

Actually, you only own the hardware. You're allowed to use windows so long as you don't color outside of the lines, and you have a non-transferable license to have and use whatever DRMed content in your possession, but that includes strict adherence to whatever method is provided by the holder of the rights to the content. (they are granting you limited use rights, not ownership)

JCitizen
JCitizen

CCleaner and SuperAnti-spyware are under attack by the malware coders. You may have malware on there that is subverting Piriform's mission. I'd uninstall it and do a throughough scanning with MBAM, Avast, AdAware, and SAS. Just to make sure, before reinstalling the lastest version. I assume you run as a standard restricted account? Cleaning temporary files using that configuration is one of the most effective preventions bar none. Some argue you don't need anti-virus with that combo. I reserve judgement on Zues attacks, though; those variants are morphing all the time.

eaglewolf
eaglewolf

It's actually better, if you're wanting to run updates/upgrades, to run CCleaner *before* you start that process. Run CCleaner - reboot - run CCleaner again and then proceed with your update/upgrade downloads and installs. Totally finish that process before doing anything else. You're starting with a 'cleaner' system - and fully completing tasks without introducing any other potentially negative elements.

hartiq
hartiq

As a quick guide to the most basic basics on anything WikiP is about as good a starting point as anywhere else. Some of the stuff on there is excellent and of very high quality, some not so much. For more detailed, more technical "what does this key do" type stuff Microsoft's help resources are pretty much the best on the planet. They have done a very good, very professional job on them. I know people used to say MS's "help" was less help than a blank page, but that has changed massively, if it ever was true. MS's support pages are a resource you should definitely look into.

JCitizen
JCitizen

The way I see it, I don't always need a cannon when a shotgun will do.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I wonder which setting causes that? My PC is chucked clear full of DRM as a cable ready CTO PC. I do occasionally get glitches, but nothing I've had to intervene in. Right now, only Windows update hoses my DRM spy machines!

mlffloyd
mlffloyd

Thank you I think you are correct. MalcolmL

pgit
pgit

Don't forget mbam also has been targeted. I remember when you had to rename the installer because some malware would recognize you were trying to install mabam and prevented it. Another time you had to rename the installer AND change the target directory for install. It's a dang good sign is someone is attacking an anti-malware tool by name. It means the tool is effective and the malware coders need to take measures to thwart it. I love superantispyware, but almost to a one people complain about the startup messages. I disable them and tell the clients to update once in a while. But they usually don't until they notice the computer's behavior has changed for the worse. :(

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

A .22 will get the job done just as well. What I like about CCleaner is the granularity. If necessary, I can clean out only one browser, or get almost all the way down to single file types if necessary.

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