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.

Uninstall

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.

Conclusion

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.

Networking Vista with XP

You may have heard a lot of horror stories about trying to network a new Vista machine with your old XP machines, and you may have even tried it on occasion with no joy.  I know I had.

However, this time around, I was determined to get it working properly.  I, once again, Googled for articles explaining how to network the two machines.  This time, however, I was able to find a somewhat recent article on the subject (in the past, the majority of the articles I came up with were written when Vista was still in its beta stages).  I followed the steps in the article and was 95% of the way to having my two computers networked together successfully.

The last two pieces of the puzzle for me, however, were: 1) setting the correct permissions on my Vista files and folders and 2) configuring my Norton 360 firewall to allow the networking to happen.