Free PC Cleaning Tools to Download
Does it take forever for your PC applications to load? Are Web pages loading slowly despite your super-fast broadband connection? Is your hard drive riddled with duplicate files and the detritus of old programs and settings? Maybe it’s time for your system to enjoy a bit of spring cleaning. Here are a few free utilities that specialize in "cleaning" your PC. Among other things, these applications can remove unnecessary files, track down duplicates, and help insure clean uninstalls — speeding up your system and cleaning out space used by junk and temporary files.
CCleaner is an application that works primarily with your PC’s registry (a repository of configuration information that other applications rely on). On a PC, the larger the registry gets, the more likely the computer slows down. So CCleaner removes all unnecessary entries from the registry, along with temporary files and browser cookies. This means CCleaner is also a security tool of sorts, removing the information that can tell others what you’ve been doing with your PC. It’s easy to use and simple to install.Price: Free
CCEnhancer is actually a plugin for — you guessed it — CCleaner, which lets the program work with a wider variety of applications, around 500 more than what’s possible on the default version. In short, it's a quick way to improve CCleaner, which is already excellent.
WinUtilities offers users a range of tools to clean up and optimize their file systems. Registry backup and cleaning, program cache and temp file dumping, duplicate file search, a file shredder and more are available in this free suite of programs. A customizable one-click maintenance function allows you to run a battery of utilities without having to open up each submenu. Scheduled tasks are among the features of the Pro version.
Price: Free / $29.99
With this application, it is possible to clean the system thoroughly. SlimCleaner lets you delete the log files, temporary data or search history of Windows. It also deletes files left by the disc-burning tool in Windows, and applications such as Paint, WordPad, iTunes, VLC and many others. Some of the more effective plugins for the utility include a CPU/RAM status tool, a utility that completely uninstalls software, and an app that makes sure your web browsers are running properly.
Comodo Programs Manager
A program management and Windows uninstall replacement, Comodo Programs Manager allows users to search for and remove residual traces and registry changes left behind by uninstalled programs. For more accurate cleaning, CPM can also actively monitor installations for more detailed information on what to remove during an uninstall. A backup option allows you to restore an installation should something unexpected occur.
Should I Remove It?
Sick of bloatware, unnecessary toolbars, and other extraneous crap slowing your system down? Perhaps an application like Should I Remove It? might be helpful. This app performs a quick scan of your installed software, compares it with its servers, and then displays the software in order, with starred ratings and color-coded bars that recommend keeping or replacing the software. You can click on the entries for more information, which will link to Should I Remove It?'s page, with a short description and known behaviors. It's a useful tool for those looking to clear up cluttered systems.Price: Free
Auslogics Duplicate File Finder
Auslogics Duplicate File Finder (ADFF) helps you track down duplicate files. Simply go through a checklist of drives you wish to scan, go through a quick wizard interface that lets you set the strictness of criteria and other settings, and ADFF will proceed to scan the selected drives. Results are then displayed, allowing you to select files to keep or delete. Additionally, you can choose to delete files in the recycle bin, back them up to a rescue center, or have them permanently deleted.Price: Free
Another program that searches for duplicates, Duplicate Cleaner tracks down identical files based on MD5 hash, as well as file size, file name or file creation date. The scans were a tad slower than Auslogics Duplicate File Finder, but Duplicate Cleaner's paid version includes some interesting extra features, such as the ability to look for similar images (files that have been rotated or resized), tag entire duplicated folders, and search inside zip files.
Price: Free / $29.95
Saddled with a slow startup? If the options in MSConfig feel too limited for you, try out Sysinternals' Autoruns, which is a startup manager on steroids. Autoruns allows you to look up everything that loads up when you boot your machine, from autorun programs, drivers, shell extensions, pre-boot programs and more. Handy tabs and filters help you sort through them. Cull your startup programs, Explorer extensions, codecs and more. While a right-click contextual menu allows you to search for more information about entries, Autoruns is most definitely not for an unseasoned user or the faint of heart, as a mistake when tinkering here can negatively affect your system. Price: Free
AppCleaner features a series of tabs that allow you to select the type of items you want to clean including applications, browser history, registry and Windows tools. (There's also a Mac utility with the same name.) The cleaning operations proved surprisingly fast. Our only regret was that the app does not offer any automatic backup system for the registry, requiring you to carry out this task manually.
System Ninja’s only purpose is to search your disk drive for useless files, but it does that rather well. It has a scanner to detect temporary files, the cache of many video games, web cookies, and even programs that won’t work with your version of Windows. System Ninja runs a bit slower than its competitors, and it also leaves behind some unnecessary registry entries that other utilities would’ve picked up.
The longer you’ve been using your computer, the more junk, temporary files, log files, cookies, form histories and other junk that you probably don’t even know about is hiding. You could go through all of your browsers, your Recycle Bin, recent documents and every nook and cranny of your directory, or you could use Krojam Cleaner to scan for temporary and useless files that you no longer need. It’s not free — a single user license costs $8.90, but you can try before you buy by downloading a free trial. After you pay once, every update will be free, keeping your computer junk free for as long as it lives.
If you prefer open-source software, WinDirStat is the cleaner for you. The tool has three views: a directory sorted by file size, a treemap of your files and a usage statistics viewer. Your files will be represented by colored rectangles, showing you how much space each takes up — it’s a good way to see what can stay and what can go. It’s a free project for Windows, but Linux users can check out KDirStat, which WinDirStat is based on, and Mac users can take a look at Disk Inventory X, a clone for Mac.
You have to give PC Decrapifier a hand; its name gets straight to the point. The free tool, which deems itself “like TP for your PC” gives recommendations on which programs and startup items to remove in an effort to speed up your computer. The program has just four steps — analyzing, selecting what to remove from a list, confirming your choices and completing the removal process. Not sure what should stay or go? PC Decrapifier points to its list of most-removed bloatware to show what other users have taken off of their computers.