What is CCleaner and how to use it? [Guide]

Have you ever noticed your computer running a little slower than usual?  Or perhaps you have been looking through your files or programs and noticed some objects that you can’t remember downloading or using.  You wonder whether those items are important for your computer or if they are some type of virus or malware that your computer has been infected with.  One way to clean the potentially dangerous or simply unnecessary files on your computer in order to speed up the processing is to use a cleaner software, such as CCleaner.

BEFORE WE BEGIN

CCleaner is a cleaning program that can help get rid of unnecessary temporary files and malware or broken registry entries.  This will increase your computer’s processing speed in addition to removing dangerous malware.  CCleaner also includes a registry cleaner that will tidy up the remaining values left in your registry after you have deleted a program.  It also has a suite of tools that you can use to manage auto start programs, completely wipe away traces of junk and temporary files (including user data, hidden files, etc.), restore your registry to a backed-up earlier point, and securely wipe your drives.  CCleaner comes in a free and paid version.  The following options are available on the free version.  CCleaner is offered by the company Piriform.

HOW TO USE CCleaner

Installing CCleaner

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  • For the free version, click on “download” and wait for the download to start automatically. If it doesn’t, click on the “start download” button.
  • Click on the .exe file and click “yes” to begin the installation.
  • You will see this screen. Choose your language and click “Next”.

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  • Check the selections and click “Install”.

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Using CCleaner to Clear Unnecessary (Junk) Files

  • When you open CCleaner, you will see this screen.

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  • Click on “Analyze”. This will scan all your system files and detect residual files left over from web surfing.  These files are unnecessary so we want to clean them to optimize the computer’s processing speed.  You will see something like this:

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  • After analyzing, you will see a list of files that can be cleaned. Click on “Run Cleaner” and click on “Ok” to allow it to delete the files.  You may have to close open web browsers.  After the cleaning is complete, CCleaner will show you which files were removed and how much total space they took up.

Using CCleaner to Clean the Registry

  • Go to the “Registry” tab in CCleaner.

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  • Click on “Scan for Issues”. This will search for residual registry entries such as leftover pointers to files that no longer exist or missing information.   These entries can be deleted.
  • Click on “Fix Selected Issues”.
  • CCleaner will ask you if you want to backup changes in case some important file is accidentally deleted. For safety’s sake, you should select “Yes” and choose the location on your hard drive where you want to store the backup.
  • A box will pop-up showing you the total number of issues. You can go through them one by one or simply click “Fix All Selected Issues” and “Close” the box.

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 Using CCleaner to Stop Auto Start Programs

  • Some programs start automatically as soon as Windows loads. These programs can cause Windows to start very slowly, compounding any existing virus programs.  Some malware programs also use auto start and can add to the time it takes to load Windows.
  • In order to manage these auto start programs, go to the “Tools” tab on CCleaner and click on “Startup”.

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  • You will see a list of programs that have the auto start feature. They will be listed as “Yes” or “No” under “Disabled”.  If you click on a specific program, you will have the option to either enable or disable the auto start feature by choosing that option on the right.

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Uninstalling Files With CCleaner

  • You can use CCleaner to uninstall malware files completely, leaving no residual files. Go to the “Tools” tab and click on “Uninstall”.

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  • You will see a list of all of your installed software. Scan the list and locate any strange-looking files.  They often have indecipherable names made up of random symbols.  If you select one such file, you will have the option to uninstall or delete it.

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So far we have discussed installing CCleaner and using it to

  1. Clean files
  2. Clean the registry
  3. Manage auto start programs
  4. Uninstall malware

CONCLUSION

There are other advanced uses of CCleaner that you can access with the paid version.  For information about these uses, see our tutorial article for advanced CCleaner use.  However, even if you only use the free version, this is a powerful cleaner that can help keep your files tidy and remove malware from your computer.

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  • Mike S.

    [@Zicheng Ren] (and @Ashraf): Many thanks–look forward to the tutorial article!

  • CJ Cotter

    Everyone raves about CCleaner, but I have always viewed it as a scary program. Oh, I’m sure it works well……just not in my computer. I have off-beat programs from back-road websites that create files that look like junk. Then when I run thorough cleaners like CCleaner, my favorite programs stop working. I’m sorry, but if I run CCleaner, it’s just going to mess me up.

  • marcW

    Hello, i’m using CCleaner for years and am very happy with it. Together with MBam it’s my total protection for surfing and till now all is well.
    I’m only responding because of the “simple” instructions remark. I LOVE SIMPLICITY

  • sgrams

    Thank you for this article, after years of using the free version I recently bought the pro version because I liked it so much and to show my appreciation for such a good program which I use every time after surfing.

  • bry

    Well,
    ccleaner is the one for cleaning common traces like Internet cache, more people would like to use other more professional uninstall tool to wipe unwanted programs; meantime users have to be careful while installing 3rd-party programs as many now contain badware, for more cases, check out the following pages:
    * http://uninstallremovepups.blogspot.com/2014/10/avast-2014-free-download.html and/or its homepage, http://uninstallremovepups.blogspot.com/
    * http://www.windowsuninstaller.org/forums/
    * What is a PUP really? http://howto-uninstall.windowsuninstaller.org/how-to-remove-potentially-unwanted-programs/ , http://www.windowsuninstaller.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=348
    * How can malvertisement bring badware? http://howto-uninstall.windowsuninstaller.org/malvertisement-downware-foistware-and-semi-malware/

  • Zicheng Ren

    @Jeffinprov, thank you for your feedback. Our aim is to write guides that are accessible to users of all levels, including beginners. If this post seemed too simplistic, that is probably why.

    @Mike S., the advanced CCleaner guide is still in production and the link will be posted as soon as possible.

  • Ashraf

    [@Mike S.] Odd. We are still working out the kinks in this new series we are working on. Let me see what Zicheng meant.

    [@Jeffinprov] Hmmm? I’m not exactly sure what you are talking about. Is your issue the article is too simple or not simple enough? Also, why does it matter if the screenshots are of Pro or Free? All features mentioned as in Free.

    My guess is, Piriform products now come bundled with Google Chrome.

  • Jeffinprov

    While I am sometimes frustrated by overly complex how-tos that assume a higher level of tech knowledge, it is also possible to go too far in the other direction. Simple is nice. Simple-minded is irritating. I also am perplexed that the graphics display CCleaner Professional; part of the charm of CCleaner has been the functionality of its free version. Lastly, for the last year or so, my Eset Security has been objecting to Piriform products as having a Win32/Bundled.Toolbar.Google.D (or something like that). What’s that all about?

  • Mike S.

    Did I miss somewhere the link for the “tutorial article for advanced CCleaner use,” referenced in the article’s Conclusion section?