Clean junk and trackers from your PC for free
CCleaner is a free app that claims to keep your PC running smooth and fast by removing junk files, trackers, unwanted apps, duplicates, and more. It’s very satisfying to use, but there has been a rumor that it can actually damage your PC. Is there any truth to this or is CCleaner actually a great tool to have in your arsenal? We find out.
Keep your PC running in top form
CCleaner is a veteran app that’s been around for a long time. It has gone through various versions in terms of free/paid and is now an app that’s free for home use. The paid app is called CCleaner Professional and it offers about 7 more features than the free version does. There are other products in the CCleaner family, like Speccy and Recuva, as well as versions of CCleaner for Mac and Android.
CCleaner download and install
When you download CCleaner you’ll find it a trouble-free process. The install is quick and smooth, although you will find that the app embeds itself into both the start-up and the context menu. As soon as it has installed, you’ll be able to scan straight away.
We get the feeling that CCleaner has looked the same for the last decade but, either way, it’s pretty easy on the eye. While not particularly modern, it looks ok and is easy to find your way around. A large central area is where all the cleaning takes place, and along the left-hand side, you’ll see your program options, settings, and the option to upgrade.
What does CCleaner do to your computer?
CCleaner for PC markets itself as an app that 'optimizes, cleans, protects, and speeds up' your PC. It does this in three ways:
Easy Clean is likely to be the part of CCleaner you’re most familiar with. It scans for trackers and junk, among which it lists the recycle bin and assorted temporary files. It’s satisfying to watch the app 'scan' and present you with a list, even if most of us aren’t really sure what we’re cleaning.
The registry scan is the part most users are scared of. CCleaner presents you with a list of registry items that are broken, missing, unused, or obsolete. It then offers to 'fix'them but recommends that you back them up in case something changes for the worse.
Finally, CCleaner’s assorted tools are handy little utilities. There’s an uninstaller, updater, start-up menu manager, browser manager, disk analyzer, duplicate finder, system restore, and a drive wiper. Finally, CCleaner also offers a settings menu where you can tweak aspects relating to how the program looks and operates outside of the individual scans.
Does CCleaner actually help?
Some users worry about the efficacy of CCleaner and there’s also an urban legend going around that, in the wrong hands, CCleaner (or CCleaner alternatives like BleachBit and Wise Disk Cleaner) can actually be very dangerous. To get to the bottom of this, we need to break the question up a little.
Does CCleaner make your computer faster and more optimized?
Well, to an extent. It largely just removes stuff that’s taking up space and, with more space available, your hard drive can theoretically work more efficiently. You’d have to have a huge amount of junk on your computer to notice any serious improvement - modern computers just don’t accumulate debris like they used to. The same goes for the disk defragmenter - that was probably a valid tool 10 years ago, but our disks are far more self-sufficient these days.
There’s probably some optimizing going on when you remove old programs you no longer need, remove browser extensions, or empty the recycle bin, but these are tasks that you could just do yourself, without CCleaner. The attractiveness of CCleaner, though, is that it performs some of these tasks itself and gives you a central hub from which to perform the others.
Is CCleaner dangerous?
That question is a bit dramatic. We don’t think CCleaner is dangerous but it does give you access to some tools which, used wrongly, could have a negative effect on your computer - especially the registry cleaner. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you could remove some registries that are important for the working of your computer, but…
You don’t have to use this feature and, if you do, CCleaner gives you a reminder to make a back-up copy. That way even if something does go wrong, you’ll be able to reverse it. If you use CCleaner (or any other cleaner app for PC) with common sense and general awareness, it’s unlikely to cause you harm.
A solid app for a specific use
CCleaner is an app that’s been around for a while and has lasted the distance despite rumors flying around. That says something and we find, for the most part, if you understand what it does and what you need to be careful of, that it’s a pretty solid app. That said, it’s not a completely necessary app. Modern computers don’t need cleaning like they used to and, if you keep things more or less in order, using an app like CCleaner won’t have a huge impact on your computer.
Even so, some people like the feeling of optimizing and tidying it gives, and the fact that it offers several tools from one interface. If that describes you, then, by all means, download it - just keep your expectations modest and your common sense dialed up high.
The latest version of CCleaner contained an important security update and some minor bug fixes and UI updates.