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ULM Computing Center

Spring Cleaning

It is about that time of year for the snow to be gone and leaves to be changing. All of the busy people cooped up all winter are ready to begin their spring cleaning. Removing cobwebs and accumulated dust is only the first step. For tech enthusiasts, a little spring cleaning for the computer may also be in order.

Computers are like cars: they often need a little tune-up here and there to prevent major repairs from being necessary later on. One way to do some cleaning and tune-up is to use software that removes accumulated debris and corrects minor problems that can cause errors later on.

A nice application for system cleaning is called CCleaner by Piriform. The utility is freeware and available for all variants of the Windows operating system (sorry Mac users). It is one of several very accomplished software applications from Piriform.

CCleaner performs a variety of functions all of which are useful. The main modules include Cleaner, Registry, and Tools. The Cleaner module removes old downloaded files, redundant DLL libraries, and garbage data that is no longer in use by the system but still occupies space. The Cleaner also removes accumulated junk that browsers such as Internet Explorer and Mozilla download and “cache.” All of this can go away at the touch of a button.

The second module, Registry, searches the registry database on Windows to find old junk that is outdated and useless. In some cases, the registry holds pointers to files that no longer exist or DLL libraries that have been uninstalled. Registry removes those references and can increase stability and performance. CCleaner uses a very conservative method of determining problem files and will not remove any files except those that need to go.

The last module is less useful but not by much. The Tools module offers several functions which are available in other parts of Windows. The Uninstall and System Restore are not different from those already found in Windows and offer no advantages over the built-in versions.

The Startup tab does reveal a nice tool that enables a user to disable or delete startup programs. So many software applications add startup programs to the system. The majority of these startup programs are of dubious value providing a check for updates or slightly decreasing launch time of the application. The reality is that every startup program uses memory and resources which impedes overall system performance. The fewer of these startups, the better. Using the Startup tool, a user can  disable some of these startups to improve computer functionality. A few of these startup programs are necessary in some cases; it is not always obvious which ones are needed and which ones are extraneous. Luckily, CCleaner offers a Disable feature so users can “turn off” a particular startup program. Later, the disabled program can be “turned on” again if it is found to be needed. The flexibility provided in this startup manager makes it one of the best features in CCleaner.

CCleaner performs its tasks very well taking a conservative approach to the cleaning procedure. It has been tested for all versions of Windows and is provided in both 32 and 64 bit versions (many Windows 7 users will appreciate the 64 bit version for use with their 64 bit Operating System). The benefits of such a cleaning are many – increased system performance, fewer errors, and recovered resources being but a few of them. The downside: none, really. The software is free. The download is small. The interface is intuitive. Fast, easy, and valuable. Who says, “There is no free lunch?”