I have looked at a lot of privacy and clean-up tools for Windows computers and some of them are pretty good. However, they are all very similar and they usually offer the same features. Apart from ease of use and a nice interface, there is little to choose from. However, PrivaZer is genuinely surprising in its thoroughness and it is perhaps the only Windows privacy tool you need.
A privacy utility is one that erases your tracks. These include your web browsing history, which is a list of all the websites you have visited over the last month or two. Browser cookies in which websites store information. Programs you have used in Windows, recent files opened in various programs, caches and so on.
PrivaZer does all of this and more, and it cleans more than the average privacy cleaner. It is also intelligent and it will avoid erasing anything that might be useful, unless you override its settings and tell it to. Unlike some privacy clean-up tools that do the job and finish in around a minute or so, PrivaZer can take several hours, but that is because it performs a more thorough clean-up.
The program starts with a series of questions and these are important for setting the default clean-up actions. You are asked if you are a basic or advanced user and if you choose advanced, you get to configure everything.
Among the configuration options, is the option to remove all browser cookies, none (you can manually delete ones you don’t want), or automatic mode. In automatic mode the program erases all cookies except those that are useful, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, eBay and so on. This means that you will not lose your login details and preferences for your favourite websites.
It is a nice touch that not all privacy cleaners have and speaking of unusual features, PrivaZer can remove the thumbnail images of websites that are shown when opening a browser or opening a new tab. Browsers try to be helpful by showing recently visited sites, but then everyone can see them if they get onto your PC. They can be removed though.
You can choose to remove invalid shortcuts to your most used programs leaving valid ones, or remove them all. PrivaZer cleans not just Microsoft Office, but also OpenOffice and LibreOffice, removing recently used file histories, temporary files and other unnecessary items.
Windows generates thumbnails of all the image files on the disk drive and even after deleting an image, its thumbnail may still be stored by Windows. There is an option to remove them.
If you have ever reinstalled Windows or upgraded it, there are backups and files from the previous version still on the disk drive. They take up a lot of disk space and they could contain private information, so there is an option to erase them. Windows Update is hardly a privacy issue, but deleting old files could certainly free up some disk space.
Privacy cleaners and Windows optimisers can clear out the Prefetch folder. This is a sort of cache used by Windows to speed up the loading of applications and it is useful. PrivaZer can erase everything, but it can also intelligently clean it by removing only those invalid items, any unused in the last six months, and software execution history. This is another clever and useful feature.
Deleted files remain on the disk drive, even when the Recycle Bin has been emptied. PrivaZer can erase any traces in the free space. It scans unused sectors and cleans them if any information is found, which is an essential task all privacy tools should have.
All data is securely deleted and there are 11 different methods to choose from, including the popular and over-the-top Peter Gutmann’s algorithm that is completely unnecessary these days. There is even an option to select between a traditional mechanical disk drive and a new solid state drive (SSD).
After scanning the system, PrivaZer waits for you to click the Clean button and you have the opportunity to tweak the clean-up tasks. Cleaning can take several hours with a big disk drive because of the free space erasing, but PrivaZer can run in the background.
PrivaZer is a great utility that has more clean-up functions and better options than most rivals. It even comes in a portable version that does not need installing, and it is free, although donations are welcome. It is recommended.