CCleaner – Keeping Your Computer Optimized

A few months ago, I was introduced to a great utility called CCleaner. CCleaner is a freeware application for Windows that helps you keep your computer running in its best condition. Following is a quick summary of the features offered by CCleaner.

Clean up

The main feature of CCleaner is to clean all of the unnecessary and temporary files from your computer. It analyzes all of your temporary directories, your cookies, your recycle bin, etc. and finds all of the files you no longer need.

The first time I ran the tool, it found somewhere around 10 gigs of temporary files on my computer at work.

Registry cleaning

CCleaner is also capable of backing up and cleaning up your Windows registry. Every time I run CCleaner, it seems to find unused file extensions, incorrect links, etc. in my registry, so I try to use it at least once a month.

Startup management

CCleaner also offers the ability to manage your startup processes. As we all know, all computers are prone to enabling rogue startup programs that can really slow down your computer. CCleaner allows you to remove any entries you no longer want automatically running every time you boot your computer.

In the old days, it was really easy to manage this, as all startup programs were added to your “startup” folder in the start menu. However, now it’s extremely rare that any of your startup programs actually show up in that folder. Some of them show up in the adminstrator’s startup folder and most of them are actually added to your registry.

With CCleaner, you don’t need to worry about where they’re stored, as you can view and remove all of them within this one utility.


As if the features mentioned above weren’t enough, CCleaner also offers you the ability to manage all of the programs you have installed on your computer from one interface.

Windows has been trying to do this for years, with the “Add/Remove Programs” utility in the control panel (in Vista, it’s called “Programs and Features”, but it’s the same thing). For the most part, it’s been successful. Unfortunately, though, Windows only seems to include those utilities that come with their own uninstallers. I’ve had quite a few experiences where Windows didn’t give me the option to uninstall some software I had installed.

Back when I was using Windows 3.1 and Windows 95, I actually bought a program called “Window Cleaner”, which was built specifically for uninstalling applications. With Windows 98 and my old copies of Windows XP, I purchased and ran Norton SystemWorks, which offered the same features. Now, though, I don’t any of those commercial applications. CCleaner does a better job of recognizing installed applications and uninstalling them.


CCleaner is a fantastic utility. Honestly, I don’t see any reason why any Windows user would not download and install the application. The functionality offered within CCleaner is on par or above most commercial applications available on the market; and it’s completely free.

Last year, I purchased a subscription to Norton 360 for my antivirus and optimizaton needs. This year, however, with CCleaner installed, I have no need for all of the bloat that comes with Norton. I can get antivirus functionality from many sources (including a version of Symantec I get for free from work), and I no longer have a need for all of the optimization features built into Norton.

I give this utility a 5 out of 5, and would absolutely recommend it to anyone.

Mobile Web Standards Announced

James over at JKontherun has the news about the launch of mobile Web standards by the W3C. James notes, “The new standards look to not only create enjoyable mobile browsing experiences but also to insure that folks with disabilities can benefit from the mobile web.” Check out our mobile and handheld usability article. Here’s the release:

W3C Standards Make Mobile Web Experience More Inviting

New Work Started on Mobile Web Application Guidelines

29 July 2008 — W3C today announced new standards that will make it easier for people to browse the Web on mobile devices. Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0, published as a W3C Recommendation, condenses the experience of many mobile Web stakeholders into practical advice on creating mobile-friendly content.

Lolcats – A great time-waster

Granted, the Web site is fairly ugly and extremely inaccessible; but the content is absolutely priceless. If you find yourself with a few good hours (or at least a few minutes) to waste, and you can’t figure out what to do, pop on over to

ICHC is the premier Web site for a phenomenon known as lolcats. Lolcats are funny photographs of animals (usually cats, but they can apparently be of other cute animals such as rabbits, hamsters, squirrels, dogs, and even the occasional giraffe!?). They are then captioned by the site’s visitors with funny phrases written in lolspeak.

You can even pick up a widget for your sidebar of choice. Some of my favorite lolcats after the break.

Amazon Discusses The S3 Downtime

amazon s3Amazon has posted an announcement regarding what happened last weekend with their S3 storage service and the downtime of nearly 8 hours. Our sister site CenterNetworks covered the outage extensively. Overall the downtime ran over 9 hours from 8:40am Pacific Time to 5:00pm Pacific Time. They call it an "availability event" – I need to add this to my list of synonyms for the words dead, down, outage and not working.

Here’s their final conclusion:

We’ve now determined that message corruption was the cause of the server-to-server communication problems. More specifically, we found that there were a handful of messages on Sunday morning that had a single bit corrupted such that the message was still intelligible, but the system state information was incorrect. We use MD5 checksums throughout the system, for example, to prevent, detect, and recover from corruption that can occur during receipt, storage, and retrieval of customers’ objects. However, we didn’t have the same protection in place to detect whether this particular internal state information had been corrupted. As a result, when the corruption occurred, we didn’t detect it and it spread throughout the system causing the symptoms described above. We hadn’t encountered server-to-server communication issues of this scale before and, as a result, it took some time during the event to diagnose and recover from it.

As cloud computing becomes more mainstream, will we see more downtime as more developers move to this type of hosting solution over more traditional options?

10 ways to orientate users on your site

Imagine you’re driving along and due to a road closure you have to follow those conspicuous yellow detour signs. You’re now on an unfamiliar road, but because of the signs you confidently proceed, comfortable in trusting the arrows to tell you where you need to go.

Then there’s a roundabout and no sign. Do you turn left? Right? You’re lost and have two choices; turn back and find an alternate road you know well or blindly drive around and hope for the best.

Websites are very similar, no matter what their ultimate goal is, your site visitors need to intuitively find their way around. Too often, general website navigation and orientation disappears or changes on internal pages.

In fact, with websites this point is even more pertinent as users can just ‘evaporate’ and leave your site, instead of being forced to drive around aimlessly!

Beyond Compare – A Nice File Comparison Utility

A while ago, I had the need for a file comparison utility to compare the difference between files on my Web server and those on my computer. After a bit of searching, I came across a utility called Beyond Compare.

From the beginning, I was impressed at just how easy it is to use Beyond Compare. All you do is open one file, then “compare” it to another file. Beyond Compare scans the files and identifies all of the differences. Then, you can click on the up and down arrows in the menu at the top of the utility, and it will automatically transport you to the highlighted differences in the files.

One of the biggest pros I’ve found in this software, besides its ease of use and its power, is the fact that the trial operates the way a trial really should. You can download a 30-day trial from the Web site, and, unlike other trial software packages, Beyond Compare actually lets you use the software for 30 days. Rather than expiring after 30 calendar days have passed, Beyond Compare (at least, the 2.5.2 version I have installed at work) doesn’t expire until you’ve actually used it over 30 days. Each time you use the utility, if it is a different day than the last time you used it, one day is subtracted from the trial period. Therefore, even if you keep the utility installed for six months, if you only use it twice, you still have 28 days left in your trial period.

Once you want to buy the software, though, it’s very reasonable. The price right now is $30 for a license.

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