Unfortunately, clutter is a way of life sometimes. All too often we keep stuff for a whole slew of reasons: it's too difficult to purge things, figuring what to purge is a chore itself, and sometimes we may not even be aware of the junk we have piled up.
I'm not talking about that collection of old bowling magazines in the attic or the skis from 20 years ago in the basement; rather, I'm talking about device clutter, which can be a real problem.
As an IT guy, I manage the data on my devices pretty aggressively, synchronizing the books, music and workfiles I need to keep with me for my daily activities. However, there's a layer of data underneath that which is related to the operating system and applications. This "sub-data" can consist of cookies, browser caches, temp files, deleted items and other debris which can needlessly consume device resources. Even us IT professionals don't usually get into cleaning up this sub-data since it's not often easily visible, there can be a perception that improper deletion may break something - and we're usually off trying to fix stuff instead so time is a precious resource itself.
A virtual broom
Enter a free utility called PhoneClean, which I recently tested out on my daughter's iPod. It can clean up unnecessary files by assessing various categories, reviewing device content then determining what can be heaved over the side. As with many free apps, the paid version offers advanced features which I'll cover a bit later.
If you've used CCleaner on a Windows PC or MacClean on a Mac OSx system you're probably familiar with the concept. PhoneClean allows you to cull out data through several separate analysis tools; Internet Clean, Privacy Clean, System Clean, and Quick Clean. There is even a Silent Clean function which can run in the background if you purchase the paid version of the product.
Internet Clean can remove:
Privacy Clean can remove:
Deleted Call Histories
System Clean can remove:
Quick Clean can remove:
Download Temp Files
Camera Photo Caches
Filter Photo Caches
Photos in Trash
Silent Clean can remove:
Download Temp Files
Camera Photo Caches
Trying out the app
In the screenshot below, the app functions are arranged in the horizontal toolbar along the top. The first component I looked at was Internet Clean.
Clicking "Scan" results in a straightforward analysis whereby the app determines what material it can clean up, then gives you the option to do so. It does not delete anything without your explicit permission. Here's a sample result of the Internet Clean scan:
You can review details and de-select items you might want to keep, then click "Clean" when ready.
Then there is Privacy Clean.
Privacy clean can remove Sensitive Data, Message Attachments and perform a secure cleanup to ensure no one can recover any erased data. Once you click Scan you'll see results similar to the following:
I found it pays to be careful here since this powerful feature can inadvertently remove valuable files... and because it's designed to eliminate them permanently, if you make a mistake you'd better have a backup.
System Clean is a function which I found particularly handy:
This worked quite well to get my daughter's iPod noticeably speedier and more organized, especially since she is known for frequently installing and removing apps.
The Quick Clean function may be the handiest since it is also the most comprehensive, and has the capacity to target the largest files:
As with every other cleaning option, after you click "Scan" you have the ability to review what will be flushed and keep anything you want to save:
Since manual cleanups can be tedious (and defeat the purpose of using technology to make our lives easier), PhoneClean also offers an automated "Silent Clean" feature:
As the above screenshot states, silent clean will run on its own once per day (this particular image shows the PhoneClean app running on a desktop PC, which is why it refers to running remotely on the device when it is detected).
There is also a handy Toolbox icon which aggregates many cleaning functions, grouped in self-explanatory titles, as well as a media repair option:
As I said, iMobie offers desktop versions of the app for Windows and Mac OSX-based systems. These perform the same cleaning functions when the iOS device is attached to the computer or connected via wi-fi. I tried the Windows version out and connected my daughter's iPod.
Besides the cleaning functions previously discussed, I also found I could manage backups and restores:
The app also offered some useful statistics regarding device storage and file types:
Differences between the free and paid versions of PhoneClean
Now, there are some functions which can vary based upon whether you're running the free or the paid version. This chart outlines them for you:
Pricing details for PhoneClean are as follows:
All in all, I found PhoneClean a handy app with a good foundation; intuitive, effective and devoid of some of the "bells and whistles" that can bog an app down or, ironically, produce more clutter. I had no problems navigating it and seeing immediate results.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to use it to remove my daughter's Justin Bieber MP3s, but it wasn't the fault of PhoneClean. Rather, she expressly forbade me to touch any of her music, knowing I'm a 70's classic rock guy myself.
Scott Matteson is a senior systems administrator and freelance technical writer who also performs consulting work for small organizations. He resides in the Greater Boston area with his wife and three children.