Clean Your Computer

Click here for the cleaning time of your life!

There aren’t many free tools out there in the computer world that provide a solid combination of ease of use and effectiveness. It seems that either you pay for the product, or you get a toned-down version of it that barely falls short of forcing you to pay for the better version if you want any real protection. I personally appreciate products like LavaSoft’s Ad-Aware SE, and Zone Alarm’s free firewall-only version of their product, but even they offer a great deal more in the paid version of their program.

But the other day, while I was making my way through the regular sites I visit, I came across a comment about a product called “Crap Cleaner.” I followed the link, and was pleased to see their statement:

CCleaner is a freeware system optimization and privacy tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. But the best part is that it’s fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and contains NO Spyware or Adware! :)

Of course, to me it sounded like another version of the Windows Disk-Cleaner utility, but the fact that it’s so fast sounded like a good enough reason to risk the download, since one of the major issues I have with the Windows tool is that it takes ages to fulfill its duties.

And thus, I installed CCleaner (no sign anywhere on the site that its official name is Crap Cleaner, although it makes sense in the context…), fully expecting to find a clunky interface that would only be worth its salt if it truly worked as quickly as it claimed it did. Instead, I found this staring back at me:

Nothing altogether beautiful, I suppose, but not the bare, uninformative interface I expected to discover. And the choices number far more than anything you can choose in the Windows tool, as well, rather than just doing its thing without letting you know what exactly that entails, which is another common discovery in the world of free software.

I ran an analysis first, just to check to see if it would do anything worth bothering with, and to test out the speed of the analysis itself. It took approximately 10 seconds, which was longer than they claimed, I suppose, but still far faster than Disk Cleanup. And, even more shocking: It told me I could free up something upwards of 200 Mb of space! On its worst day, Disk Cleanup manages to free me about that much, and that’s including the compression of unused files. No sign of any such tricks here, and since I had run Disk Cleanup not long before, it came as even more of a surprise!

Convinced that this program just might be something special, I clicked the Run Cleaner option. The first thing that popped up was a warning stating that it would be permanently deleting files. I knew that already, and chose the “don’t show this message” option, but it was nice to see the warning since new users might be unfamiliar with this kind of utility. The caution it offers lets you know that if you want to keep your AutoComplete form history, then perhaps you should click cancel… nice touch!

Since it had run the analysis, the actual cleanup didn’t take much longer than the initial scan had. And even nicer was the fact that it didn’t get to the end and tell me that it would require some form of payment to actually fix the problems, which is another catch that many companies throw in to their “free” product. Rather, it very innocuously informed me that the operation was complete, and that 1/5 of a Gb had been freed up, just like that!

But the fun didn’t stop there! The next thing I noticed was the “Issues” tab on the left-hand side. This screen greeted me:


Having just finished with Registry Mechanic, a tool that is meant to fix this kind of issue for you, I was once again skeptical. Registry Mechanic had been exactly the kind of tool I just mentioned: It scanned, told you the problems, fixed a few, and then told you “These 266 problems are restricted. Buy our product to fix them!” That, and the fact that it demanded to be running regularly, thus taking up RAM and slowing down the startup and shutdown marginally, had made me question its use as a program. But, seeing as CCleaner had done such a wonderful job of freeing up hard disk space, I decided to give it a try. I selected every single option, since I knew there was plenty there to be found in almost every category (thanks to Registry Mechanic, which did a good job of telling me the issues I had, at least), and let ‘er rip.

Once again, a short scan revealed that it did indeed have the ability to find problems for you. Clicking on “Fix Selected Issues” popped up a screen that once again served the dual-purpose of letting you fix the problems, but also letting you know that there could be issues with fixing them if the wrong things were selected. I clicked on “Fix all problems” (there was a huge number of them) and it checked again to make sure I wanted them all fixed, rather than going through them one-by-one to make sure they were not risky to handle. Trusting the program, I allowed it the freedom to make it all better. And it did. Another 5 second process, and it told me it was finished.

I could feel the decrease in my computer’s response time. I don’t know about you, but I come to know my computer intimately. The startup time, the various glitches that seem to freeze up the computer, and the response time are all things for which I have a feel after using the same computer for a while. I have friends who come over and complain about certain issues, but I always find that I barely notice them after I’ve gotten to know my computer. Well this changed the response time so drastically that I found myself navigating the folders to make sure that it was indeed real and not just my imagination!

Now, that doesn’t mean that that kind of result is to be expected every time the program is run. Like any tool, the first time you run it should yield the most impressive results, since regular scans from then on should make the tool more useful for maintenance than major fixes. But the fact that I am maintaining a computer with far less lag than ever before is nothing to balk at.

Summary:

10/10 for one of the best free products I’ve encountered.

Perfect interface (not too bloated, but not hard to understand)
Perfect cost (free!)
Perfect usability (does what it should, and nothing more!)
Recommendation: Get it today, and support them if you really like it!

Firefox Hacks

Ever wondered how to make your Firefox pages load faster? How about taking up less memory? These, and other handy tricks, can be found here, although admittedly the task is not quite as simple as it sounds. But, changing the registry isn’t as difficult as it sounds! Just make sure to follow the instructions on this page to the letter and you’re golden!

Yet another reason why open-source programs whoop Microsoft any day! ;)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.