An Update For The Best Free Windows Cleanup Tool


CCleaner imageCCleaner has long been most people's favourite tool for cleaning up a bloated and slow Windows installation, and currently claims to have been downloaded more than a billion times. It's certainly way more powerful than the disk cleanup feature which is included in Windows. It'll tidy up temporary files, your registry, many well-known applications, and more, freeing up disk space and speeding up your PC.

Piriform, which makes CCleaner, released a new version last week, so if you're not running 5.15 you should upgrade. Among the new options is a cloud-based version which makes it easier to clean multiple computers if you have a company full of them. For home users, though, the stand-alone free option is still the best and simplest.

Just head to to download the 6.5 MB installer, which should run on all recent versions of Windows. Be aware that the program will offer to install the Google toolbar on your computer (which earns the company money if you agree). So if you don't want it, just uncheck the box.

Note that the program is safe and virus-free according to all my tests. However it does drop one mark on VirusTotal because one particular security product regards the toolbar installer option as potentially unwanted software. The other 54 products all give it a clean bill of health.

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I tried CCleaner once. It removed so little junk that I didn't use it again. Look at DriveTidy or Find Junk Files if you want junk files removed. Caution, not for the feint of heart.

Used the free version for about a year before getting the Pro version. The first few months I used CCleaner I didn't think, or know, what to check or uncheck for cleaning. Learned very fast, especially when had a few problems...asked Microsoft Forum and had my fingers rapped neatly by people there who told me to Never clean my Registry. I am tech-challenged still, but am working on what is good to use and what is bad. Still use CCleaner but have unchecked every box in the registry section. Do like the cleaning it does on temporary files and have not had a bit of trouble since.

CCleaner's Registry function is one of the mildest and safest ones out there.

It gets rid of less stuff, but it's pretty safe.

I think I've also used the Registry cleaner in Glary Utilities safely, but you shouldn't have to clean your registry often.

Memory comes flooding back; Windows Secrets (pay walled) website did a test on registry cleaners last year, and I'm pretty sure CCleaner actually sped up boot times on a "dirty" OS, and it was the only one tested that did.

I have used CCleaner for many years and never had any trouble cleaning old registry keys. In fact it seemed to make things better. By contrast I have found uninstaller programs broke more things than ever and I can still remember the horrors with that. Newer programs or operating systems seemed to have fixed uninstall errors. Have not had one in ages except for MS office problems. I use Revo Pro which works gr8.

I also run CCEnhancer from Singular Labs which adds support for cleaning over 1,000 new programs.
I download the program into the CCleaner folder.
The first time it is run you should see more programs appear in the CCleaner Applications menu.

I agree about CCEnhancer but it slows CCleaner's operation significantly, so after you've ticked all the boxes of stuff you want deleted, run CCEnhancer's Trim function (under Advanced tab).

It speeds up things a lot.

I use inly the clean-up feature of CCleaner but combine this with SlimCleaner by Slimware which, in my opinion, does a better job. Have you ever reviewed SlimCleaner?

Frequently, I run CCleaner's cleaner and its registry cleaner, before running Wise Care 365's Free PC Checkup tool. It keeps my system optimized and smooth. I'd recommend everyone doing the same - brilliant.

Our recommendation is that only users with advanced knowledge of Windows should ever run software capable of deleting registry keys. This includes so called tweaking tools that contain a registry component. The benefits of using such tools are marginal at best and certainly dangerous in inexperienced hands. I have seen more Windows systems broken by this type of software than by infection or any other cause and I have never seen one run faster as a result. There are many reasons why computers become slow but none of these can be fixed by messing around with the Windows registry. MC - Site Manager.

What about CCleaner's registry cleaner? Obviously it's probably the most-used computer maintenance software and I haven't seen anything about it's registry cleaner causing havoc.

I just use CCleaner for registry cleaning, Is Wise Care's registry cleaner in the PC Checkup tool as intense as it's main registry cleaning tool?

You can see various entries by searching the Piriform forum.

The fact is, no automated registry key deleting tool is guaranteed to be safe. If it was, there would be no need for a backup feature. :)

Fact also, you can have thousands of obsolete entries in your Windows registry and removing them won't make a measurable jot of difference to your computer speed or smoothness which are the two most favorite terms used by vendors of registry tools. The problem is these tools are programmed to work in a clean, functional version of Windows. Over time most systems can have user instigated corruptions that will hardly impair your system enjoyment and likely won't even be noticeable... until you run a registry tool. When said tool mis-identifies keys in these circumstances, deleting them can trash your system completely or make certain operations non functional. Experienced Windows users will edit their registry manually if they feel the need, others should leave it alone and not be influenced by vendor hype. It always used to amaze me how much in denial folks are about this particular subject. They used to rant at us in the shop claiming we just wanted money to do a new Windows install. Also, where we used to operate is quite a small city and we knew and were on friendly terms with most of our competitors. You would not believe how many users would rotate themselves around different PC repair outlets with the same problem. Used to be a standing joke as many of us used to meet up in the same bar after work. MC - Site Manager.

MC - How do you personally keep a system optimized (assuming you keep away from registry cleaning)?

I only install stuff I really need rather than what some vendor website tells me I must have. Anything I am not totally sure about gets trialed first using ToolWiz Time Freeze. I also use portable programs wherever possible to minimize what gets written to the registry. I don't even use a third party defrag because I find the built-in Windows tool perfectly adequate. MC - Site Manager.

I adore your capability to say nasty truth nicely. WOW!
I don't have the after work bar experience but YEAH, you tell it how it is.

Hmmm. Both CCleaner and WiseCare365 seem to be 'tweaking tools' and they both have a registry component. I get the impression that the Gizmo staff themselves are divided about the value of these applications. Rob is obviously a supporter of CCleaner of else he wouldn't have posted this article. I think everyone agrees that a certain level of understanding should exist before users use any tool that could seriously damage their computer performance.
P.S. The article you provide a link to is terrible as it passes judgement on all cleaning programs based on its experience with just one.

I can only report what I saw during my years servicing dead computers in partnership with one other person. By far the majority cause of unbootable Windows systems was the use of registry cleaners. Some are more aggressive than others but the two main culprits in my part of the world were RegClean and what was then Advanced Windows Care, now Advanced System Care. There are hundreds of posts about this issue, these are just a couple from my own bookmarks.

The second one highlights a common escalation of the issue in that once things go wrong, users often start with system restore, uninstall a bunch of stuff or even run yet another registry tool. The cumulative effect is a non-fixable Windows system, and this is what we saw pretty much every day and in crowds at weekends. MC - Site Manager.

MC, I fully second your motion.
There are posts in this thread that make my spine curl ;-) Like KenA using SlimWare utilities or Zenegog using Wise Care's 365 stuff. I know YMMV but my experience is that I saw way too many messed up systems that were running programs like these.

And I just LOVE cosseyedlemon's remark about the HTG article. He seems not even to have read the article; right up front in that article the HTG says "PC cleaning apps are digital snake oil" and "Windows includes built-in PC cleaning tools that can do almost all of what the average PC cleaning app will do for you". HTG is IMHO one of the best computer "advice" web sites for end users out there and I trust them.

Not only does that all confirm my hands-on experience, it shows too that "opinions" count for some people more than facts repeatedly proven. But then again, that mirrors life, doesn't it? Sigh...

One of the reasons I'm a huge supporter of Gizmo's Freeware site is that they provide a balanced perspective of software, stating the pros and cons and letting the reader decide what suits their needs best. When you see an article like the one from HTG you immediately see the author has an axe to grind and can assume you will not be getting that important balanced perspective.

To avoid toolbar or any other unwanted software with CCleaner, users should download either the portable version, or the slim version, from here: The slim version is made available atleast a week after CCleaner is updated with a new version. The slim version does not have any bundled software with it. I always choose to wait for slim version.

To ensure I only get the application I want and no 'extras' I use a tiny utility called Unchecky which was a great find I came across here at Gizmos some time ago.

that only introduces another layer of unnecessary complexity. For years now I use ONLY the portable version of Ccleaner because it's Cleaner (the temp file delete function) is so much faster than Windows' Disk Cleanup.
Even if I did use the installer version I am sufficiently grown-up to detect and uncheck unwanted toolbar installers!

Well, errr... according to Piriform themselves, there's been a new version of Piriform every month since July 2008.

Agreed. I've used the free version of CCleaner for years. It's a great product. They do seem to release a new version every month - I'm guessing in order to get their users to visit their website every month and get the pitch for the Pro version each time - with incremental changes that for the most part are invisible to the average user. If you update your CCleaner a few times a year, you should be fine. And I agree with Midnight Cowboy. Unless you know what you are doing, you are more likely to cause yourself harm than good by running a Registry Cleaner. I do know what I am doing, and I am careful.

Free CCleaner includes other utilities as well: a rudimentary cookie manager, a program uninstaller, a startup program manager, a disk analyzer (to tell you how much space each different file type is taking up on your hard disk), a basic duplicate file finder, a Restore Point manager, and a drive wiper.