Computer performance gets bogged down with usage and time. Web browsers, other programs, and even the Windows and Mac systems themselves fail to cleanup after themselves, allowing temporary data files to accumulate. These files are downloaded and utilized during system updates, general web browsing, and other common tasks. Yet when no longer needed, this garbage is left on your hard drive indefinitely, taking up valuable storage space and slowing down your computer.
The good news is that there is a way to cease the creep of sluggishness. And it can generally be reversed with free and relatively easy-to-use tools. In this article, I will teach you how to download, install, and configure a very effective cleanup utility called CCleaner on your Windows* computer. Since most of my clients prefer automated simplicity, I will show you how to configure CCleaner to run fully automatically. While it might seem a bit daunting at first, when we’re done here today, rest assured: you won’t have to be bothered doing anything further to clean up your junk files any more.
* Note to Mac users: I apologize, but I will assume here that you are using a Windows computer with the Internet Explorer web browser for these instructions. To not assume this would lead to a very complicated page of instructions. I will, however, release a future update to this article to cover Mac systems.
Step One – Installation
To install CCleaner, click on this link.
When prompted, click Save.
Then, click Run.
The CCleaner install utility will now run. Click Next.
I prefer to not clutter my desktop with shortcuts. If you agree, uncheck the box Add Desktop Shortcut. Since we are setting up CCleaner to be automated, there is no need to run it manually, and hence no need to have a shortcut. However, you are of course free to let it create a shortcut.
Now click Install.
When the quick install completes, you can uncheck the View Release notes checkbox and then click Finish.
Step Two – Configuration
Welcome to CCleaner. Now, we will go over some configuration options I like for optimal benefit and automation.
In the above photo, please review all the checkboxes that I have checked on and off. I recommend doing likewise for you. Uncheck all Internet Explorer checkboxes except Temporary Internet Files. Leave only Other Explorer MRUs and Thumbnail Cache checked on under Windows Explorer. And leave only Empty Recycle Bin, Temporary Files, Clipboard, and Chkdsk File Fragments checked on under System.
If you prefer, you can uncheck Empty Recycle Bin if you’re someone who likes to clean out your recycle bin on your own terms. I’ve met one or two people who actually use the recycle bin to organize their files, such as by keeping things they want to have handy in there. Please… don’t do that. 🙂 It’s meant for putting your junk that you no longer need. Perhaps I will cover how to organize your files and folders in a future article.
Again, please refer to the above image and what I have checked on or off. Your computer will undoubtedly have some different programs showing up. For any web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.) you see listed, uncheck all except Internet Cache. For any email client you may or may not have (Thunderbird, Outlook, etc.), do likewise. As for the rest, I recommend checking the rest on except anything that is a security program (McAfee, Norton, Kaspersky, Avast, Avira, etc.). You might also want to uncheck a backup utility you are using.
Click Analyze when you are ready.
I’m pretty clean with a mere 49 MB. But unless you’ve had a good cleanup done recently, your computer will probably have a lot more. Don’t panic if you see three, four, or even five thousand MB… if you do, now you know why your computer is running so slow. 🙂
Click Run Cleaner.
Don’t worry, be happy, and click OK.
When the cleaning is complete, click Options.
I recommend checking on Run cleaner when the computer starts. This will automatically run CCleaner every time you reboot or start your computer up, so you don’t have to bother analyzing or running CCleaner yourself.
Now you decide how securely you want your deleted files to be erased. You can leave Normal deletion checked on if your computer is more than a few years old, as secure deletion can increase your computer’s startup time. But if your computer is relatively new and fast, and especially if it’s a mobile computer, by all means enable Secure file deletion. Just in case the computer is stolen, it will make the thief’s life more difficult when trying to retrieve your data.
If securely deleting files, now click to select how many passes you want. The more passes means the more secure. But more passes also means a slower startup time. It’s up to you. Just pick 3 passes if unsure, a nice middle-of-the-road choice to balance speed and security.
Check on all your hard drive partitions. Often, it’s just the C drive, but some computers might have a D drive as well (I have three because I’m a computer geek).
If you are securely deleting files, Wipe MFT free space is nice to enable as well. That’s your master file table, which describes where to find your files on your hard drive. Wiping it makes it more difficult for a thief to find your deleted files.
Click Monitoring. It’s a nice theory, but I actually prefer that CCleaner not monitor computers actively. I’d rather it do cleanup only on startup, so as not to slow down your computer’s performance even by a slight amount. Click off Enable system monitoring and then click off Enable Active Monitoring.
When CCleaner complains, click Yes. You are sure you want to do this.
Click Advanced. Just make sure that Skip User Account Control is checked on. If you prefer, check on Only delete files in Recycle Bin older than 24 hours if you prefer leaving things in there for a bit until you’re sure you want it deleted. But if you’re confident about your deletions like me, feel free to leave that unchecked.
And that’s all, folks. Simply close or click to exit CCleaner.
Cleaning up your computer is a chore best left to a freely available and effective tool like CCleaner. I hope you’ve been able to follow along nicely, and for your computer’s performance to benefit from my experience as a result. Until next time, happy computing.