CCleaner – avoiding the perils and the pitfalls

ccleaner1.pngCCleaner is one of the most popular apps on Softonic, and with good reason. It’s a great tool to clear garbage from your computer, speeding it up and protecting your privacy. Unfortunately, if you use it carelessly, CCleaner can sometimes do its job a little too well, cleaning away stuff that’s actually pretty important. Looking around the internet for examples, I found this hilarious plea for assistance: “Help, CCleaner’s erased my whole iTunes library”! That’s some pretty careless cleaning!*

The first piece of advice for the safe use of CCleaner is simple, but it’s still something that people forget. If you don’t know what something is, don’t erase it! I thought I’d run through some of the Windows options, briefly describing the less familiar so that you can decide whether or not you want to erase them. Ultimately, the decision to erase is yours, not CCleaner’s, so think carefully before making any decisions!

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Internet Explorer

Index .dat Files – these files are related to Temporary Internet Files and, like them, record the websites you have visited.

Windows Explorer

All the options under Windows Explorer are related to items that Windows temporarily places in an ‘easy to reach’ place for quick access. They are not essential in themselves, but you might have become used to some of them in their current form – Recent Documents and Autocomplete, for example.

System

Windows Log Files – much as the name suggests, these files are ‘logs’ of what has happened on your computer. If something was to go wrong, you’d need them to see what had happened. If nothing goes wrong, you’ll won’t need to use them, but if something does, you’ll be glad to have them.

Memory Dumps – much like log files, these are records your computer creates when it detects an error. Again, you’ll need them if you are going to attempt to debug your computer or have else somebody do it for you.

Chkdsk File Fragments –  these are little bits of file left over from errors. With the right technical know-how, you might be able to reconstruct them and rescue the information they contain (which may or may not be information you are interested in having). If you’re not planning on any reconstruction works, they’re of no use.

DNS Cache – this is where IP addresses are temporarily stored so that your DNS server can retrieve them more quickly when it goes to look up a website.

Advanced

You might have noticed that the Advanced options in CCleaner are grayed out. That’s just to dissuade you from getting in too deep – try clicking and you’ll see that you can actually select them. But hold it right there! Just because you can doesn’t mean you should – if you needed advice on the non-Advanced options above, you should really think twice before diving in to CCleaner’s more technical side! If you’re feeling expert, however, stay tuned – next week, we’ll take a look at those grayed-out options so you will know exactly what you’re getting into.

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*I have to say that I am very skeptical of this claim and really, really doubt that it’s true!

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