Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Tutorial: Using CCleaner

I wouldn’t go anywhere without CCleaner

CCleaner (the “C” stands for ‘crap’) is a free system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up hard disk space. It also protects your privacy by cleaning (erasing) traces of your online activities such as cookies, and your Internet history. Additionally it contains a safe, fully featured registry cleaner.


click to read CNet's review/download

I have reco’d CCleaner many times here, and if you surf other geeky sites, you will surely see it mentioned (no doubt, recommended) if you haven’t already. If I could only download 10 tools, one of them would be CCleaner. (If memory serves, it was the first item I recommended here on T4E..) “CCleaner is the number-one tool for cleaning your Windows PC. Keep your privacy safe online, and make your computer faster and more secure. Over 500 million downloads.

Recently, Piriform released CCleaner 3.0, and I have been using this new version for a while. Today I am going to show you how I use it.

How I use CCleaner: If you have not done so already, download and install CCleaner 3.0. Note: during the install process, you will be asked to let CCleaner scan for “good cookies” (good cookies are, like, your email login) – let it (aka answer “OK”).

1) Launch (aka “Open”, aka “Run”) CCleaner.

2) By default, it opens to the crap cleaning tool (the paintbrush), and the “Windows” tab. Here is where you make selections for the “system”, and Internet. My preferences are shown, but you might want to include browsing histories.. (No one else has access to my machines, and use History as a timesaver, to return to previously visited sites, etc.)

Before you begin: Click “Options“, then “Advanced“, and uncheck the “Only delete temp files older than 24 hours” checkbox.


We can now go back to the paintbrush.. Note my choices.

settings for cleaner tool

3) Now click the “Applications” tab.

Notice how every “application is checked?

4) Click the “Analyze” button. This will start the cleaning scanner, and generate a report on the items CCleaner will remove. Check this, and make sure nothing you want is accidentally included, then..

5) Click “Run Cleaner”.

Some people do this every night before shutting down. Others, after every “browsing” session. I do it a little more casually than that — I run CCleaner at least once a week, as GP. But I make a point of running it after each time I visit a new website for the first time (which I do several times a day) with a special emphasis on Internet “temp” files. (Those files contain a Trojan.downloader more often than you might think!)
Why not? Running CCleaner’s cleaner tool takes about 30 seconds.. or less.

Now let’s look at the Registry tool: It is very important you understand – so important, in fact, I wrote: Top Tech Tip #2: Leave Registry Cleaners Alone – that one does not fiddle lightly with the Windows Registry. I cannot tell you how many times someone has come to me with messed up systems because they downloaded some “optimizer” hoping for faster Internet, or because their ancient machine crawls along like a turtle. (I reco you take a look at the article now.. it will open in a separate place.)
Registry defraggers/optimizers/”tune ups”/etc. is one of the bigger scams going. And everyone has one for sale. Why? Because the “average computer user” is ignorant of the facts. It’s that simple.

CCleaner is one of the (few) exceptions. And there are certain times when Registry cleaning is advisable (as the article above mentions).

1) Click on the “Registry” icon on the left. Again, note my selections.

—> —> ANSWER “YES”. MAKE A BACKUP!!! <— <—
(I Save directly to C:\, and name the file “regbackup”. To make it easy to find in an emergency.)

Someone will look at this and want to comment on why I have un-checked the first two. Let me answer that now. You do not have to follow my practice. You have made a backup, after all.
But, I do not trust anyone but myself to decide which dynamic link libraries (DLL‘s) I might need; and just because I haven’t used a file extension yet, doesn’t necessarily mean I want to remove a Registry pointer. (And.. I do not think of Help files as “space wasters”.) Yes, CCleaner’s Reg tool is safe, but messing with the Registry can introduce as many ‘glitches’ as it cures, and this habit of mine reduces the chance of that.. IMHO.

My Registry scan shows no “errors”. But yours – most likely – will. Maybe several hundred of them. Go ahead and ‘fix’ them. (I repeat: ANSWER “YES”. MAKE A BACKUP!!!)

2) Run the scanner again. (You do not need to save backups during these additional sweeps, but if you do, label them regbackup2, regbackup3, etc.)

3) Run it again, and again if you have to… until it reports “no errors found.”

This will not turn your turtle into thoroughbred race horse. But it may very well cure those strange “computer oddities” (aka ‘glitches’).

I encourage you to explore CCleaner’s Toolbox as well. I use use the Startup tool instead of msconfig, for example. If you are not already a CCleaner fan, click on the CNet image (top of article): read Seth’s review: download.

I have been using CCleaner for a lot of years, and this new version is everything I’ve come to expect, and more. (I especially like the improved 64-bit support.. one of those invisible “under the hood” items..)
And yes. I meant what I said about ‘go anywhere’. I copy CCleaner from my Program Files folder onto the thumbdrive that is my keychain’s fob.

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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November 17, 2010 - Posted by | computers, file system, free software, how to, Internet, PC, performance, privacy, security, software, tech, tweaks | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. sweet


    Comment by jimmy | November 17, 2010 | Reply

  2. jimmy,
    I appreciate the support.


    Comment by techpaul | November 17, 2010 | Reply

  3. Paul:
    I have been using CCleaner for a long time now. The Windows specialist at my former office also suggested using NCleaner. I have both on my system and what one doesn’t pick up the other will and really do a thorough cleaning.


    Comment by Larry C | November 17, 2010 | Reply

    • Larry C,
      I have not tried Ncleaner myself.

      … CNET Editors only give it 3 stars.. but a guy on Lifehacker “loves it”.. and I must say it looks intriguing. (Especially the IM cleaning..)

      It’s on my to-be-tested que as of now.


      Comment by techpaul | November 17, 2010 | Reply

  4. TechPaul,

    It appears we both have grown up with computers with CCleaner being a mainstay app on our PCs. I actually would be lost without it. Your tutorial on using CCleaner is awesome.



    Comment by Ramblinrick | November 17, 2010 | Reply

    • Rick,
      Well I certainly do thank you, and appreciate the kind words!

      Folks, if you are not familiar with Rick already, please visit his blog, What’s On My PC... He has been in IT since the beginning, and has written a tutorial or two..
      He is one of my daily reads. (And I kinda doubt he would be “lost” w/o CCleaner..)


      Comment by techpaul | November 17, 2010 | Reply

  5. Paul,

    CCleaner is also one of my “must have” apps. I’m one of those users that runs it after every session on the internet. It’s so fast after the first time it’s run that it has become a habit. Since I installed the Firefox Add-on “TACO 3.0 with Albine”, I now have opted out from from over 100 advertisers and can still clean cookies. CCleaner is on every computer of mine that accesses the internet. I love it! Thanks for the tutorial… I installed it on my Mom’s computer a year or so ago, but she doesn’t really understand what is happening. I checked the items that she needed and told her how to run it, but I am going to point her to this article so she can have a better idea of how to use the program (and why).

    Thanks again!


    Comment by KsTinMan | November 18, 2010 | Reply

    • KsTinMan,
      Thank you for the supportive words (and the ‘plug’ for two of my reco’s).

      Reader participation is what keeps me going.. and charges my ‘blogger’s batteries’.


      Comment by techpaul | November 18, 2010 | Reply

  6. I use RegSeeker


    Comment by Anonymous | November 18, 2010 | Reply

    • Sir or Ms,
      RegSeeker is a bit too advanced, and a bit too thorough, for me to recommend to anyone other than (quite) advanced users. It is a powerful tool that needs to be handled carefully, and not the sort of thing for the “average computer user”, IMHO. (I refer you to my Top Tip #2…)

      However, CCleaner’s cleaning tool is something I can recommend “for Everyone”.


      Comment by techpaul | November 18, 2010 | Reply

  7. Hi Tech-Paul, And “Then there was light”.
    GRrreat tutorial on CCleaner.
    With the exception of reference to “TACO 3 with Albine”, which I will check out, I echo the sentiments of KsTinMan above.
    I now have a far better understanding of CCleaner for my own use and will continue to recommend your site to benefit others.
    Looking forward to your next tutorial – the info and guidance is appreciated..
    Regards, BaldEagle.


    Comment by BaldEagle. | November 19, 2010 | Reply

    • BaldEagle,
      And I will echo my reply to KsTinMan — Thank you for the supportive words. Reader feedback not only “charges my blogger’s batteries”, but helps me be a better writer, and get a better understanding of what people are interested in.. and find helpful.

      TACO can be a bit.. annoying, as it’s pop-open window is a little large. But using it can be an eye-opener/education, for those unaware of just how ‘tracked’ we are. And for those – like me – who think it’s nobody’s dang business what websites I look at, it gives the power to “just say no”.


      Comment by techpaul | November 19, 2010 | Reply

  8. In my opinion, one of the reasons cleaner is so cool is its user-friendliness. not only is it super cool to use on my computer, I can set it up on a friend’s computer, give them a quick lesson on onto use it, and feel confident that I’ll probably not get as many “my computer’s slower than molasses” calls.

    In fact, I know of a computer guy in town who installs it on all computers he sells to people.

    Good tutorial!


    Comment by tim | November 19, 2010 | Reply

    • tim,
      It is a pleasure to see your name here again. Thank you for the support.

      Reader response has been good.


      Comment by techpaul | November 20, 2010 | Reply

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