The Ccleaner hack was bad news for some people, but not for everyone. It turned out that only the 32-bit version of the software had been infected with malware and then only version 5.33.6162. Earlier and later versions were OK.
The infected app was replaced by a clean version as soon as it was discovered. However, it is a very popular utility for Windows users and that still meant it may have been downloaded millions of times. A second form of malware was discovered in it, but that only targeted specific companies and not the general public.
Ccleaner is now safe and free of malware, but has this episode put you off using it? What can you use instead?
How to use Windows clean-up tools
Do you really need Ccleaner to keep the system clean? Why not simply avoid using clean-up software altogether? Would your computer eventually slow down so much as to become unusable?
I haven’t used Ccleaner or anything like it and my computer has been running fine for nearly three years. I don’t think the speed is significantly different now to when I got it.
Do you need cleanup-tools for the PC? All versions of Windows have built in tools that can delete unnecessary files, junk files, temporary files and general garbage from the disk drive. For example, in Windows 10 go to Start, Windows Administrative Tools, Disk Clean-up. It is in Windows 7 on the Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools menu.
This Windows utility does a quick scan for junk and temporary files first, but if you need a deep clean, click Clean up system files and it finds even more junk. Tick all the items and clean them.
The latest version of Windows contains something called Storage sense and this automatically cleans the disk whenever necessary. It can also be run manually too. See Get more disk space with Windows 10 Storage Sense disk cleaner
Press Windows+I to open Settings, click System and then click Storage on the left. Turn on the switch under Storage sense on the right, then click the link, Change how we free up space.
Turn on the switches to delete temporary files and files that have been in the recycle bin for more than 30 days. In the Windows 10 Fall Creator’s Update there is also a switch to delete files in the Downloads folder over 30 days.
Storage sense does not appear to run if it does not need to, such as if you have a big disk and lots of free space, but you can click the Clean now button at any time to clear the junk from the disk.
Third party cleanup tools go further, but these Windows tools do quite a good job and may be all you need.
Should you clean the registry?
The registry is where Windows and applications store settings and it is like a huge database. If software is installed on the PC, it stores its settings in the registry, but when it is uninstalled, the registry information often remains. Is it a problem?
It rarely causes problems if you leave these entries in the registry. They don’t significantly affect the speed of the computer and it is safer if you don’t mess with registry contents. I have heard people say that they have a problem after running a registry cleaner too often.
It seems that sometimes they can remove too much or remove the wrong thing and this causes faults instead of fixing them. Registry cleaners are mostly safe and rarely cause a problem, but there is always a chance. If the PC is working fine then there is no need to use one. I would avoid registry cleaning.
Clear your internet tracks
Another feature of apps like Ccleaner is that they can clean your internet browsing history. However, caches and history are designed to speed up browsing the web, so clearing everything will slow down the browsing until the caches refill.
If you don’t want to keep your browsing history, just open an incognito window in Chrome, or the equivalent private browsing window in whatever browser you use. It is on the menu and is just one click. When an incognito or private browsing window is closed, all the browsing history, cookies and caches are deleted. There is no need to use software to clean them.
What if you forget to go incognito? Go to chrome://history and you can clear the browsing history for the past hour, day, week, 4 weeks or forever.
The best way to uninstall software
All software comes with uninstallers, so why do you need a special utility to uninstall it? Because uninstallers rarely remove everything and they often leave behind files and registry entries. These don’t always cause problems, but in some circumstances they can.
One of Ccleaner’s functions is to remove software and combined with its registry cleaning and junk file cleaning, it can do a good job.
It is worth keeping an uninstaller around just for removing software thoroughly and the one I use is IObit Uninstaller. It uninstalls applications, Windows apps, and browser extensions, plugins and addons. All files and registry entries are removed, which is useful if you need to remove an application and perform a fresh install.
Stop software auto-starting with Windows
Ccleaner has a tool that lists the programs that automatically start with Windows and they can be enabled, disabled or deleted. Task Manager in Windows 10 does that. Right click the taskbar and select Task Manager. Select the Start-up tab to see the auto-starting programs and any that are unwanted can be selected and disabled.
Neither Ccleaner nor Task Manager go far enough and if you really want to see what loads with Windows and block items, get AutoRuns, it is brilliant, although it may be a bit too complicated for some people.
Alternatives to Ccleaner
Some people will always prefer to use a third party tool to clean and optimise their computer and they are easier to use, more aggressive in their cleaning functions, and sometimes offer secure removal of junk files by overwriting them so they cannot be recovered (disk drives, not SSDs).
Advanced SystemCare Free: This is the free version of the all-in-one clean-up and speed-up tool from IObit. It has lots of functions for cleaning the junk on the disk, improving startup speed, clearing your browsing history and more. The Pro version does a lot more and for me, it does too much. It’s a whole toolbox of tools.
Wise Disk Cleaner: This is small, lightweight, and focuses on optimising the disk alone by finding and deleting junk files and also by defragmenting (disk drives not SSDs). The clean and simple interface is easy to use and there is a scheduler.
Wise Registry Cleaner: I don’t use registry cleaners, but if I did, this is one that I would consider. The Fast Scan is the safest option, but even then, check everything before deleting it and make sure you have a backup and know how to restore it (it’s in the settings). There are Registry Defrag and System Tuneup sections.
Glarysoft tools: There are lots of free tools here, such as Disk, Speedup, Registry Repair, Quick Startup, Glary Duplicate Finder, Absolute Uninstaller, Glary Disk Cleaner and Glary Tracks Eraser. You can choose the tools you want or install Glary Utilities, which is an all-in-one clean-up and speed-up app that combines all the tools into one. There is a Pro version with even more features.