Often times, when you talk to any experienced computer professional (or family member) about how to protect your computer from viruses or malware, they tell you that you should install a suite of applications to keep your computer secure.
These applications usually include antivirus software, desktop antivirus applications and browsers, and inevitably CCleaner also offers.
CCleaner has been the mainstay of protecting Windows computers for years. It was created at a time when Microsoft Windows lacked many built-in protections and features, so CCleaner filled in those gaps.
Today, these gaps have disappeared, and many people who have installed CCleaner can do more harm than good to their computer.
Clear your browser history and cookies
One of the main features of CCleaner is that it â€œprotects your privacyâ€ by deleting your search history and browser cookies.
The reality is that people usually use one main browser on their computer, and these days privacy features are built right into the browsers themselves to automatically clear cookies and search history.
For example, in Google Chrome, you can easily automate this:
- Click the menu and select Preferences.
- Scroll down and click Advanced.
- Under Privacy & Security, click Content Settings.
- Click on Cookies.
- Turn on “Store local data only” until you close your browser.
- Click Add next to the Clear on Exit button.
- Enter [*.] com and click Add.
These two settings changes ensure that local data and cookies associated with your browsing activity are immediately cleared whenever you use your browser.
You can also prevent malicious ads from becoming a problem in Chrome by going back to the Content Settings screen and under Ads, make sure the first toggle is Blocked on sites that display intrusive or misleading ads (recommended), rather than “Allowed”.
These are generic settings available in almost all modern browsers today, and therefore the need for a third party application like CCleaner is not required to access your browser files and change anything.
CCleaner Registry Cleaner
CCleaner also promises to remove all of the following from your registry if they are not used on your computer:
- File extensions
- ActiveX controls.
- Class IDs and Program IDs
- Shared DLLs
- Application Icons and Paths
Registry cleaners were very popular many years ago, when computer disk memory was very limited and every little ounce of space was very precious.
The reality is that any small amount of registry leftovers (such as from uninstalling an application) takes up a tiny amount of space. This is not an image or video file stored in the registry. It’s just text.
Plus, Microsoft has never recommended running registry cleaners and hasn’t developed its own, mostly because it doesn’t want users to mess with the registry. Just one unintentional error while deleting a registry key can damage your entire Windows operating system.
The reality is that there are stories of people who messed up their Windows OS by running the CCleaner registry cleaner.
If it’s dangerous for you to manually browse the registry and edit it yourself, why let a third-party application try to â€œguessâ€ which registry keys are not needed? There is also no evidence that registry cleaners speed up Windows.
Add to that the fact that Windows 10 manages the registry much more efficiently than all previous versions of Windows, and there is really no need to use any registry editing application.
Disable unnecessary startup programs
Another feature that CCleaner touts is its ability to make your computer start up faster, but at the same time reduce the number of startup applications it loads at startup.
The application shows you all the programs configured to start when your computer starts up and provides a tool that you can use to disable or remove these startup tasks.
Actually CCleaner just provides you with a duplicate application that is already in Windows 10.
You can easily view the programs scheduled to start when your computer starts up.
- Click the Start menu and enter startup tasks.
- Click Startup Apps under System Preferences.
- In this tool, you can enable or disable which programs can start when your computer boots.
As you can see, it’s easier to just view and disable applications that you don’t need to launch right from this tool, which is already integrated with Windows 10. There is no need to install anything.
Ironically, as you can see above, when CCleaner is installed, it is configured to load like another application that starts when your computer starts up, which further slows it down.
Clean up “junk files”
Another thing CCleaner promises to help you with is removing “junk files” from your computer system. Regularly cleaning up unnecessary files is said to speed up your computer.
There are two misconceptions about this. First, deleting files will speed up your computer. This can reduce the amount of hard drive space you use, but it does not necessarily make your computer run faster. The second mistake is that you even need CCleaner for this.
Microsoft introduced a new feature in Windows 10 with the Creators Update (version 1709). This introduced a new option in a Windows 10 feature called Storage Sense. This will automatically delete all files in the Downloads folder, temporary files, or the trash that have not changed in 30 days.
To enable this:
- Click the Start menu and type Settings. Click “Settings”.
- Click System and then Storage in the left navigation pane.
- Turn on Memory Sense.
This will always ensure that your temporary files and recycle bin are not messy.
You can fine-tune how this feature works by clicking the Change how space is automatically reclaimed link.
Here you can fine tune how often Windows cleans these areas and how long Windows allows unmodified files to remain in these areas.
This is another example of how features in Windows 10 make CCleaner obsolete.
CCleaner sends out “anonymous usage data”
By default, when you install CCleaner, it is configured to send “anonymous usage data” to CCleaner. The newsletter states that only how you use the CCleaner app is tracked.
While there is nothing clearly indicating what kind of data is being collected, it does mean that CCleaner will regularly connect to the Internet and send data to CCleaner’s servers while you try to use the Internet for other purposes.
Given that CCleaner is configured to run as a startup application by default, this means CCleaner can communicate with CCleaner’s servers even if you don’t even know it.
For an application that claims to try to shorten the time it takes to boot your computer and try to speed it up, the fact that this feature is enabled by default seems counterintuitive.
CCleaner has been hacked before
The most important aspect of software like CCleaner is trust. When users download an application to clean up junk or unwanted applications from their computer, it must be an application with a reputation for being free of malware or viruses.
Unfortunately, in 2017, hackers successfully injected malware into the CCleaner app to spread it to the millions of users who had CCleaner installed.
It was only after Cisco researchers tracked down the security breach on Avast’s servers (owners of CCleaner) that Avast quickly responded by fixing a security breach that had allowed the system to be compromised.
Unfortunately, the damage was done.
The attack proved that installing applications like CCleaner simply opens up a new path for hackers to infiltrate your system. It has also been proven that CCleaner’s software is not reliable enough to prevent such attacks.
And since you can essentially implement all of the features available in CCleaner by customizing existing settings in Windows 10 anyway, there really isn’t any reason to install CCleaner at all.