When you first get a new computer or device, it loads quickly and hardly ever crashes. But as time goes on, it seems like things start to go downhill. You experience more crashes, it takes longer to do even the simplest tasks, and you start to wonder what happened to that peppy little pc or smart phone you used to have. Good news: it is (probably) nothing major, it just needs a good deep cleaning. I’m going to show you a free program that does a wonderful job making your computer run better and faster, and I’m also going to show you exactly how to use it.
There’s lots of products that promise to clean out and speed up your devices, but the only one I’d recommend is CCleaner (download it here), a free program I’ve been using for years and have nothing but good things to say about. Judging from its success, I’d say many other people around the world have the same opinion. After all, “CCleaner… has been installed more than 1 Billion times onto nearly 25% of all the PCs in the world.”
So what does it do? Essentially, CCleaner is a system optimizer. It looks over your entire computer for unused or redundant “junk” files, and lets you decide which programs automatically run when you turn on your computer, helping stabilize your device and make it run faster. You’d be surprised how many files are just sitting on your computer, doing nothing but slowing it down. Every time your computer has to load a page, file, or program, it has to look through these garbage files first. The more trash it has to sort through, the longer it takes, and the less stable your system becomes. When your device was new it hadn’t yet collected all this junk, so it could search quickly and efficiently. But as time goes by, things like temporary internet files, cookies, and orphaned registry settings build up like fleas on a dog, slowing your device down, taking up space, and increasing the chances it’ll freeze or crash.
CCleaner takes care of these junk files, along with a host of other memory and storage issues, quickly and safely, and best of all, for free. Of course, there’s a paid option, and you might want to investigate it, but for this article we’ll focus on downloading and using the free version. Are you ready to have your computer run as fast as it did when you first got it? Then read on.
*Note: The following steps are for the pc version of CCleaner. For mobile devices, visit your app store and search for CCleaner, then install and run. Actually using the app is the same.
Finding and Installing CCleaner
- Go to piriform.com, then click “free download”.
- Choose the version of CCleaner you want (free in this case, but try the free trial of an upgraded version if you’re feeling adventurous)
- A box should pop up asking you to save or cancel the CCleaner download file. If not, click the “start download” button.
- After downloading, open the file and give it permission to make changes on your device.
- The next screen is your installation options. Leave these alone and hit the “install” button.6. CCleaner is now installed. Uncheck the “view release notes” button (since you could probably care less) and click “Install”.
- Make sure you’re in cleaner mode (the brush icon). You can either “analyze” to see how many junk files CCleaner will find before cleaning, or “Run Cleaner” to immediately start the process.
- After analyzing or cleaning, you’ll get a screen showing how much space junk files take up on your device, and where they’re found. Don’t worry too much about the specifics, just know that getting rid of them makes your computer cleaner and faster than before.
- Next click on the registry tab below the brush on the left. Click “scan for issues”. After scanning, CCleaner will ask if you want to create a backup. I never have, but you might want to just to be safe.
- If you really know what you’re doing, pick and choose which registry values you want to delete. Or, if you’re like everybody else (myself included), just click the “Fix All Selected Issues” button, and wait for the program to complete.
- Finally, click on the tools tab (the wrench on the left), click “startup”, and look at the list of programs that automatically run whenever your computer starts. Some you’ll want to leave alone, but others could be viruses, adware, or other undesirable programs running without your knowledge or permission and slowing down your system. Exercise extreme prejudice against such interlopers by clicking on their name, then clicking “Disable” on the right. If you accidentally turn off the wrong one, just come back to the same place, click on the disabled program, and click “Enable”. Don’t worry, you won’t break anything if you turn off the wrong program (though you might have to restart your device).
- That’s it! Feel free to check out some of the other options CCleaner has, or just leave everything alone. And don’t worry about garbage building up again; CCleaner will remind you to run it from time to time, and even tell you how much space it can free up on your device by clearing out junk files.
- Another useful feature is the ability to permanently erase your deleted files. That’s right, when you delete a file, it sits on your hard drive until it gets overwritten by something else. Should you choose to wipe a drive, CCleaner will write random numbers over top of any free space, protecting your privacy and confidential information by completely destroying your deleted files. Just make sure you really want them deleted, because nobody will be able to recover this “wiped” data once it’s gone.
If it seems like CCleaner does a lot of things for a free program, go ahead and dig around in the user interface some more. Not only does it clean out your computer and let you choose what programs run at startup, but it can also scan your drives to see what kind of files are taking up space, search for duplicate files you don’t need, manage your restore points, uninstall programs, etc. And the paid versions do even more! I can’t tell you if the paid versions would be worth your money or not, but I can definitely tell you the free version is worth every penny and then some. So go ahead, give it a shot, and see how much speed and stability CCleaner can return to your device.