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PC system cleaners: Who's doing a better job of cleaning?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / July 29, 2011 8:03 AM PDT

System utility cleaners: Who's doing a better job of cleaning?

How come when you use 3 different utilities (CCleaner, Glary utilities, Advance System Care 4), they always find different things to clean? Is one doing a better job than the other? Is one cleaning out less and another cleaning out more than is needed? What gives? And who should I believe and is there any possible harm in these discrepancies? Any explanation around this mystery will help me better understand it all. Thank you.

--Submitted by: Guillermo O.

Here are some member answers to get you started, but
please read all the advice and suggestions that our
members have contributed to this question.

Purpose matters --Submitted by: stringboy

PC System Cleaners --Submitted by: petelw

The 7 P's --Submitted by: High Desert Charlie

Thanks to all who contributed!

If you have any additional advice, suggestion, or opinions for Guillermo, click the "reply" to submit your advice, suggestions/opinions, or tips. Thanks!
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PCSystem Cltaners
by danielarbib / July 29, 2011 10:35 AM PDT

I use PitStop Optimize 3 in Windows 7 and it seems to do the job/

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Housekeeping and the Registry monster!
by 19Grumpah42 / July 29, 2011 11:05 AM PDT
In reply to: PCSystem Cltaners

I too use Pitstop Optimize and find it very convincing, it has never caused me a problem; having said that I would recommend always eyeballing all the suggested changes before you click {Fix it}. I also run Glary Utilities and Advanced System Care, plus CrapCleaner for the obvious junk. All very tedious, but it has to be done. I think it is worth distinguishing between general housekeeping (unneccessary files and poor parameters) and maintenance of the Windows Registry, that enormous collector of other people's rubbish, which will not only slow down but even render the OS unstable. I also use Registry Fix 7 (in addition to the above) and like Lee Koo I find that different cleaners find different errors in this file which I regard as a terrible garbage pile, and very bad strategic design as well: way to much centralization of application-specific data. Whenever my windows systems (never my Ubuntu Linuxes) become unstable I always run 3 different Registry cleaners as a first approach to correction, and then re-boot.

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by Rayq1951 / August 5, 2011 1:00 PM PDT

I was told that running too many utilities causes conflicts and eventually kills your hard drive. This was told to me by a IT person.

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by Apollo_Racer / August 5, 2011 11:35 PM PDT

This is only partially correct. It is true that running too many utilities at the same time can kill the hard drive. If you run them one at a time, however, you should be okay.

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May be so, may be not
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / August 5, 2011 11:40 PM PDT

I don't see the 'hard drive' being ruined, but consider this.

Use Registry Cleaner "A" to make changes to the registry. Then use Registry Cleaner "B" to scan the registry. Who is to say it will either, 'find different' problems' or find problems that Registry Cleaner "A" made, and try to fix them.

Now add another one, Registry Cleaner "C" into the mix.

You can see that running all of these and more might eventually so mess up the registry that the poor OS no longer knows what is right or wrong.

My solution? Don't use any!


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by Rayq1951 / August 6, 2011 4:58 AM PDT

I agree but if they are running in the background then it will happen. Many are novices and unware of that occurring.

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System Utilities
by BlueOn2 / August 6, 2011 5:32 PM PDT



Having used a number of system cleaners over the years it is
difficult to say which is the best or which one does a better job. I stopped using AdAware a number of years a
go because it was crashing and locking my system and insisted in taking control.
As a rule I do not like anything that does not allow you full control over when
it runs especially as running such utilities at the same time can cause damage.
As a rule ANY SOFTWARE which claims or suggest it is free and is able to find
and resolve your issues should be taken with a pinch of salt but when it then
says it has found a number of issue which it can fix but you then have to pay
either by signing up for something or for a fee should not be used. There is no
guarantee that they can do or fix what's wrong, they can cause even more
problems and can come with even more issues such as adware, virus's, trogens,
high jacks and change setting which you neither wanted or intended. As a
general rule if you come a cross a utility that you want to use and I would try
to use one that has been recommended, always go direct to the source if
possible or to a site that you know to be safe and never via an advert, not all
are, as they seem.

I have used and do use a number of system utilities, some
are free and have an upgrade (e.g. Pro, full services) for a fee and some you
have to pay for. I currently use Spybot (***** free/donation), System Mechanic (***** Fee with upto 3 PC's,
there is a Pro version) and Ccleaner
(**** free/fee for upgrade).

Because prevention is ALWAYS better than cure, I would
recommend that you make a list of Utility functions that you might need (e.g.
data recovery, Reg cleaner, hard disk check/repair, etc.), then look on line
for recommendation (Cnet is a good start), once you have made your choice
install and if possible make an emergency recovery disk for when thing go bad.

And never run more than one at a time.

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I agree with everything you said EXCEPT...
by taoist / August 16, 2011 6:11 PM PDT
In reply to: System Utilities

CCleaner doesn't have an upgrade for which you can pay. Unless it has changed recently, they welcome donations but don't give you anything additional if you choose to make one. I'm a cheapskate, but CCleaner is one of the very few free programs that I've appreciated so much I made a small donation. Happy

Oh, fwiw, I also use Piriform's Defraggler (I love being able to choose which files to defragment, based on size and number of fragments). Plus I recently got a good deal on Advanced SystemCare 4, which is the first utility I've had constantly running on a PC since my Windows 95 or 98 days. Haven't had it for long, but it's got a small memory footprint and just a couple processes running in the background, which are very important with a system like my Asus Eee 1000He (1.66Ghz cpu).

Finally, for those who are interested in keeping an eye on all the processes running on their systems, and how much CPU/RAM they use, I cannot recommend highly enough Process Explorer, from Microsoft's SysInternals. It's a fantastic, robust replacement for task manager. You can get it here @ cnet's download.com .

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Utilities & uses, I trust
by travis41 / August 6, 2011 4:00 AM PDT

I have run CCleaner-Glarys Pro & Win utilities for appx. 4 years on my Vistas OS without crashing or burning a drive, not at the same time { of COURSE }.I use Glarys Pro to clean my Reg. this is the only 1 of the 3 that always lets me choose whether to delete or not.Ccleaner gets rid of browser history etc. best & Win defrags & cleans free space best.

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Lots of variety
by DerfX / July 29, 2011 10:43 AM PDT

I have used at least half a dozen different PC cleaners over the years and every one of them seems to look at different things. I guess it all comes down to what the writer of the software programs it to look for. But I have also had a few of them cause significant damage to my systems by eliminating too much. For the past several years, I have been using nothing but jv16 Power Tools and last year, I bought the 2010 edition for my Windows 7 laptops. I have never had any issue with it and while I can't say how good it is compared to the others you mentioned, I feel like it keeps my machines running lean and smooth.

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Who's cleaning what?
by LaptopsDontFly / July 29, 2011 10:56 AM PDT

the differences between cleaners is a s varied as the cleaners them selves.
CCleaner lends allot of its power to privacy, Glary Utilities leans towards the registry as a whole allowing it to "optimize" your system, while ASC-4 is a system cleaner not just the registry, but duplicate files and the like.
Another reason they differ is the settings values, A medium or thorough setting in one could equal a minimal setting in another. As with any system maintenance a restore point or system backup should be done first.
another program that i've had great success with is Juoini Vuorno's Regcleaner and JV16 power tools from Macecraft.
I hope this helps and remember its always personal preference in picking your software, Ya gotta be comfortable right?

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C Cleaners
by will608 / July 31, 2011 2:58 AM PDT
In reply to: Who's cleaning what?

My only problem with CCleaners is they contact me first claiming viruses were about to wreck mycomputer.My question is how the heck did they know as I know I never ever gave them a okay to scan my computer.Although their product works it still scares me that they invaded my cmputer without my okay.So buyer beware as they could be scanning your computr without your okay.

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"CCleaner" is not an anti-virus utility!!!
by CKinVA / August 1, 2011 6:21 AM PDT
In reply to: C Cleaners

"CCleaner" by Piriform (www.piriform.com) is not an anti-virus utility!!! It doesn't have a 'scan for spyware/adware' option (or functionality)!

If you are getting anti-virus messages (or any other messages about spyware, adware, trojans, worms, etc) then you are not running a legitimate version of CCleaner ... period!

I seriously suspect your PC has been corrupted by a 'scare ware' virus/adware (pretending to be CCleaner). And, by letting it run (over & over?) you are probably exposing yourself (and all you e-mail contacts) to spammers, hackers, keyloggers/identity thief attempts, etc.

I've been running the free version of CCleaner 5+ years (thru multiple versions/upgrades) without it doing anything like what say is happening to your PC. As with all "clean-up" tools, you can screw-up your system by deleting things you should not so you should not "just let it run" without checking the results and knowing what it will delete, etc ... for that matter you shouldn't let any anti-virus, anti-adware/spyware, registry cleaner, or disk cleaner run unless you know it is a very well trusted product and that you obtained it from a very trusted, respectable source. You should always review and be careful (ie: have backups) should you decide to let any utility delete registry entries, disk files, etc.

Do yourself (and your friends) a favor: PLEASE run a known valid, brand name, up-to-date anti-virus tool that you obtain from a known valid vendors website (ie: Norton, McAfee, Avast, AVG, etc) ASAP to verify your system is clean!

And, NEVER, NEVER run software that just 'shows up' and says it will save you from all the evils of the world!

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Good answer above
by webserf / August 5, 2011 12:30 PM PDT

I agree with GoodTimeCharlie 100%.

I also run Spybot-Search and Destroy.
I like it, and I think it does a great job of keeping up with current spyware/malware attacks. But you HAVE to remember to keep ANY spyware, or malware Up To Date!
CCleaner has also been a good help, and along with Avast, I've done pretty well to stay out of "harm's" way.

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Good answer above #2
by jern46 / August 5, 2011 2:01 PM PDT
In reply to: Good answer above

GoodTimeCharlie and webserf have pretty much said it all. One good antivirus + a good 'cleanup' after surfing will keepyou out of trouble. I've used Trend-Micro (formally PC-Cillin) for over 15 years...never had anything bad touch my system. Present program is TM's Titanium Internet Security Suite. It's reliable, not heavy on the system, and has wonderful support! In fact, it tells me where the dangerous pages are. CCleaner is used every time I finish on the web. I would humbly suggest that one find a good cleaner that correlates to one's system and stick with it until you find something better. I sincerely believe that a lot of folks have too much 'stuff' installed that they rely on and it sometimes bottle-necks the system. Lastly, try to stick with the 'KISS' principle.

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Good Answer above . New!
by arrowsmith / August 5, 2011 11:10 PM PDT
In reply to: Good answer above

Hi I too have CCleaner, Spybot & Avast. Plus Wise Registry Cleaner & Wise Disk Cleaner which I use once a month.

It must be ok for I have had no problems.

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by chootastic / August 6, 2011 3:32 AM PDT

I would say that, with reference to the above, both Avast and CCleaner are excellent utillitys. However Spybot is getting a little long in the tooth, and tends to miss quite a lot. Download Super anit spyware (sounds like spyware itself lol), and see the difference in what it manages to rake up!

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Spybot has finally updated...
by JCitizen / August 6, 2011 6:03 AM PDT
In reply to: Spybot

I wouldn't discount Spybot yet as it has finally updated recently. I'm now recommending it to clients that don't like AdAware for whatever reason. AdAware was out performing Spybot S&D in the recent past, but I'd retest it before giving up now. SaferNetworking is a standup good anti-malware company based it Germany, and the developer means best, even if he doesn't always keep up to date, on the kernel. Happy

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Good Answer Cont'd...
by PaxCanadiana / August 9, 2011 2:53 AM PDT

Just like "arrowsmith", I use Avast, CCleaner, Wise's Registry & Disk Cleaners, plus, when I'm feeling the need to go deeper, I run my WinUtilities suite (the free version). Yes, it all seems like a bit of a pain, but when dealing with this stuff it really is a case of "better safe than sorry". The above combo of tools hasn't given me any problems in over 2 years and solved/stopped quite a few before they got out of hand.

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True - but...
by JCitizen / August 6, 2011 6:35 AM PDT
In reply to: Good answer above

If I have a client that is listening to me and properly running in standard account mode, then CCleaner is almost like an anti-virus, in that most malware cannot install on a 64 bit version of windows in a restricted environment like that - they simply sit in the temporary files. The AV and AM solutions may indicate that the files are there, and maybe even remove them, but simply running the file cleaner(not reg cleaner) will delete anything in all those many folders, hidden folders, and temp file locations, plus all the zombie cookies too. CCleaner is the only utility I've found that removes zombie cookies. I used to do malware like this with Prevx, as it was pretty good at finding files that were just deposited from a page download; but since it is not a good remover, I simply used CCleaner, and scanned again with Prevx to assure it was gone - and voila! Fixed!

For example: If you suddenly experience a Fake AV alert, and it is sitting there raising all kinds of pandemonium, and you start task manger to end the process; then run CCleaner, the fake alert will disappear from your PC. This on a standard account mind you. Eventually your malware definitions will catchup to any other files that may be left behind, but so far I've never seen this on Vista x64 with CCleaner installed. Of course if you start clicking on ANYTHING that an unfamiliar pop-up provides, you will get pwned; but if you keep all you applications up to date, the likelihood that a drive-by will pwn your PC goes way down. I'm beginning to think we are reaching a point were the operating system is armored enough that with that factor and using vigorous patching of applications, you almost don't need an anti-virus/malware solution at all. We are not there yet - however. Besides there would still be a lot of other utilities needed for safe networking in a blended defense, so other solutions using various technologies(such as firewalls)would still need to be in force.

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Clean it up bit by bit
by lkyguy1 / August 7, 2011 11:53 PM PDT
In reply to: True - but...

If you have Malwarebytes for the tough junk, (weekly) C Cleaner for the crapola (daily) and Advanced System Care (regularly) you will do fine. Anytime something comes up that states that you MUST clean your system now... it's gonna crash etc, virus will spread, on and on... just reboot and run Malwarebytes. It will find that stuff and Quarrantine it, and it's a very easy delete process. One other little trick.... if you press down on the Control and Shift buttons... then tap the Delete, you can delete all your browsing history. Neat. I love Comodo Firewall too. I always download Avast ...for any newbie and remove almost any program that is there, as there is no Update process involved and that's pretty nice to K.I.S.S. In TOOLS, go to Advanced and remove the check marks on Animation and also Sounds in Webpages, as they slow down the process. While you're there, do check Do not save encrypted pages to Disk... and Delete temporary files upon closing the browser. Hey, every little bit helps. If you actually require those you can simply uncheck them.

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I realize Adanced System Care is getting popular...
by JCitizen / August 8, 2011 7:13 AM PDT
In reply to: Clean it up bit by bit

and has pretty slick performance; but please forgive me for not being very excited about a company that was bought out by the Chinese, and suddenly accused in court for stealing source code from MBAM. I just don't trust that company(iObit)

Other than that, you are correct for most standard users. But if you do online shopping and banking, it is going to take a lot more than that to defeat Zeus variants, and other stealth Trojans, that don't even need to install on the profile to control your browser and everything you do at the bank. These type of threats generally inject into the startup folder and go into stealth mode to avoid detection from the best AV and AM scanners.

For that kind of security I would have to publish a very long and boring list of conditions and utilities to truly be safer(er) on line. This is only the minimum, because you can never truly be totally safe online - none-the-less, at least minimizing the risk can be an achievable goal.

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by webserf / August 10, 2011 11:08 PM PDT
In reply to: True - but...

I agree with your post, and the key words in it were in regard to clicking on rogue pop-ups. This has been the downfall of most unsuspecting users.
Many of these rogue thieves are imitating themselves as known legitimate software and getting away with it.

A recent customer of mine was all but shut down by what I call Extortion-Ware. "Your Computer Is Broken. PAY Us And It Will Be "Fixed"". "I thought it was my malware program", she said. People just don't know what to do, and are desperate to get their computers working again, and will pay, many times.

These thieves should be investigated, and put in jail. They must have connections to banks in order to collect the money through credit card transaction to "clean" the computer, so it shouldn't be hard to track them down.

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And they do...
by JCitizen / August 11, 2011 3:42 AM PDT
In reply to: EXTORTION-WARE...

If you are interested in the justice served these criminals, check out "Krebs on Security", to see Brian Krebs investigative reporting on "cyber-crime". He is pretty thorough in tracking the news on these things and was personally responsible for getting a lot of crooks discovered and prosecuted!

I really like that site!! I occasionally contribute to his site, and always enable cookies and turn off AdBlock Plus and NoScript, so he can get full credit for his visitation numbers on advertising. We want to keep him going since he left the Washington Post to go independent!

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"you almost don't need an anti-virus/malware solution at all
by taoist / August 16, 2011 6:27 PM PDT
In reply to: True - but...

This isn't something I'd EVER recommend to someone I don't know personally, but believe it or not, over the last several years I've run a couple of my own PCs (which nobody else ever touched) with no AV/AM memory-resident! I like to squeeze every possible ounce of performance out of my system, and even when I buy a new computer it's far from top-of-the-line.

Once WinXP SP2 came out, with a good built-in firewall, and I was confident that I knew which banners not to click on or emails to open -- neither of which is all that difficult after you've spent more than a half dozen years online, and paid attention to things -- I got comfortable with just running 1-2 free AV program scans and 1-2 free AM scans every couple weeks. More recently, I've seen and heard about more sophisticated bad stuff, so I keep Avast and SuperAntiSpyware going at all times. . .both have great reputations and don't eat up a lot of my precious resources. But for the better part of a decade, I managed to keep 2 or 3 of my PCs free of evil just by being smart and practicing (what I think is) common sense. I'm still using XP (SP3...er, more or less 4, i guess), but I can't wait to move up to Win7 and multiple cores!

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GTCharles is absolutely right...
by PaxCanadiana / August 9, 2011 2:37 AM PDT

I've been using the free version of CCleaner through a few upgrades over the last couple years and have had absolutely no probs with it and definitely nothing like the scary scenario Will608 described. I'm in complete agreement with all of GTC's points and would recommend you follow his advice, Will608. Good Luck... Happy

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Could have been a False Ad
by Tom_SF / August 5, 2011 2:25 PM PDT
In reply to: C Cleaners

Did you get one of those pop-ups that only appears to be scanning your system and then tries to sell you the cure?

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by StormanNormandin / August 5, 2011 8:51 PM PDT
In reply to: C Cleaners

Your definitely not running the official version of CCleaner. I have ran it for years going all the way back to Wondows XP and have never had an issue with it. As the gentleman "Good Time Charlie" wrote, you must have a fake version. I would run some online virus scanners and reboot. Or download AVG Antivirus which has a built in Boot Up/Start Up Scanner. Good Luck !

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Utilities vs A/V
by travis41 / August 6, 2011 4:12 AM PDT
In reply to: C Cleaners

Download Avast from Cnet downloads-Set it on High & set boot time scan then reboot { restart } if u have a virus it will find & eliminate it.

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Best Registry Optimizer is the best and cheapest pc optimize
by jameslovegod / November 10, 2011 2:38 PM PST
In reply to: Utilities vs A/V

Best Registry Optimizer is the best and cheapest pc optimizer.Best Registry Optimizer is a complete package for your PC care and maintenance that you don't have to go through the hassles of resolving the problems and with Best Registry Optimizer you can safely clean and repair the registry problems and speed up your computer with a few simple clicks.http://www.bestregistryoptimizer.com/

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