Windows provides Disk Cleanup as a default junk file removal utility. However, it is not as effective as one might like, therefore, many users resort to alternative third-party software for cleaning system clutter. We have previously covered many free system cleaning utilities which provide multiple benefits such as system maintenance and cleanup. While some are more capable of removing junk files from the system, others seem to be more effective in providing registry fixes and extras like file shredding, trace erasing and malicious file removal. In this post we will analyze the best system utilities and provide you with a conclusion regarding the most effective tool for your PC.
CCleaner is perhaps one of the most widely used system cleaning utility. It’s rapid success among users can be analyzed by the details given in our earlier post 10 Lessons Software Developers Should Learn From CCleaner’s Success. Lets take a look at the pros and cons of using this famous junk file removal tool.
It cannot be denied that CCleaner has been a favorite cleaning utility for a large number of users. It provides many enhancements which are lacked by standalone cleaning software, such as portability, registry fixes, start up application configuration, system restore point management, drive space wipe and of course junk file removal.
What makes CCleaner even more useful than other utilities are 3rd party add-ons. One such example is CCEnhancer, which adds support for cleaning junk files from 270 additional applications (as shown in the screenshot below). Moreover, its recent enhancements have included support for HTML5 Indexed DB cleaning, management for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera and Internet Explorer 9, as well as improved “ActiveX and Class Issues detection. You can see some of the details regarding the enhanced CCleaner in our post here.
I have been a long time critic of CCleaner and despite my arguments for highlighting the weak areas of this tool, the love for CCleaner has only increased among it’s fans. Before CCleaner fans take me to the gallows for speaking against it, I would like to be provided with the chance to present my case. Despite providing many advanced cleaning options and extras, it arguably does not remove junk files from some of the most basic directories. Time and again I have tested multiple versions of CCleaner and it has failed in cleaning junk files from the following Windows directories.
For those of you who may be unaware of the Prefetch folder, it is a sub-folder of the Windows system folder. It keeps track of the way your computer starts and the programs which are commonly opened to speed up access to applications. Microsoft does not recommend emptying the directory, but many system administrators prefer emptying it once in a while as it gets cluttered with the data of applications no longer in use and my personal experience has also provided some credence to the fact that emptying this directory can help reduce system clutter and does not greatly affects system access to applications. For this reason many cleaners such as Glary Utilities allow emptying this folder but CCleaner does not. CCLeaner does have a tab for emptying Prefetch data but it appears to be a reference to old data rather than the Prefetch directory.
Being a former system administrator, I have perhaps gotten accustomed to cleaning clutter from the above mentioned directories and many others through conventional methods. I would rate CCleaner to be more of a blue eyed boy among users rather than being as effective as perhaps some other tools. Perhaps CCleaner developers can chip in some more extra features like removal of hijacking toolbars and applications. This feature, however, is present in other cleaning tools like Slim Cleaner. With recent CCleaner enhancements, it is likely that its developers may add more features and edge out some of its flaws.
I used Slim Cleaner a while back and found it to be surprisingly useful. It provides many extras and enhanced junk file cleaning features which are hard to find in a single cleaning tool.
It removes junk files from directories which CCleaner is unable to remove clutter from (such as the two examples given above). There are also a number of features in SlimCleaner which many other system cleaning utilities do not have, such as, the removal of hijacking toolbars, application ratings to help you identify resource hogging apps and an uninstaller. Other than that, it provides pretty much the same features that one expects from a system cleaning utility such as junk file removal and system optimization options. You can check out a detailed review of SlimCleaner here.
Unfortunately, SlimCleaner does not have a registry cleaner like CCleaner and does not provide a portable version. This does reduce it’s utility to some extent and makes it less convenient. SlimCleaner has been created by SlimUtiltites and perhaps the reason for not including some features is the fact that they have separate products for multiple tasks such as SlimComputer, Fix Cleaner and SlimDrivers.
SlimCleaner might get better in the next versions. If SlimCleaner was to add more feature and provide a portable version, it can become a viable alternative for big guns like Glary Utilities and CCleaner.
Xleaner is a system cleaning utility which allows users to choose specific applications, browsers and directories to erase unwanted files from. Lets take a look at this tool and compare it with other utilities of it’s kind.
Xleaner too has the ability to clean Prefetch data and the other common directories such as Temp folders from multiple system paths. It is available both as an installer package and in portable form. But what makes it quite useful as compared to other tools is it’s support for many additional features unlike common cleaners such as system memory purge, system optimization, secure file deletion and an easy to understand interface which clearly displays many categories and sub categories to clear clutter from recent documents, temporary files and folders, clipboard, Windows applications (e.g. Windows Media Player, MS Paint, etc). You can also enhance it further by adding extensions for uninstalling programs, viewing running processes and finding removing folders. For more features and their usage overview, see our post here.
Xleaner, by default, has too many options checked and has the ability to remove some temporary files which may be required for recent use. One has to go through many convoluted paths to configure categories and sub-categories to make sure that something useful is not lost. Although as mentioned above, this is also a kind of an advantage, since one can see what files will be deleted, yet there are just too many things one might have to consider before clicking “Purge” button. For those who like a stylish interface, they might not find Xleaner to be any Natasha Henstridge. Some users have complained about the appearance of it’s interface and simply call it “Ugly”. Besides that, it might be difficult for beginners to identify some of the mentioned items from the list and therefore, they might find it hard to determine what files may be no longer needed.
Xleaner can be useful for advanced users who may recognize the various file types mentioned in the complex sub-categories, however, it is likely that a user with little technical knowledge may end up removing a useful file by using this app.
Advanced SystemCare Free
As the name suggests, it is a free version of a paid system maintenance utility. Lets take a look at the list of features which it offers and what benefits can a user have by using it’s free version. It provides many cleanup, optimization, malicious file removal and system enhancement options.
The free version for Advanced System Care provides a trace eraser, uninstaller, disk cleaner (junk file removal), memory optimization, startup manager, shortcut fixer, IE helper, Windows problem fixer, disk doctor, process manager, etc. The pro version costs $12.97. Nonetheless, you can still get great features like RAM optimization, removal of malicious agents, file shredding and the like. For a detailed overview of the features available in the free version, see out post here.
Many Pro features like Registry cleaner are available from free tools like CCleaner. Besides that, many other features which it provides are available from other free applications which are perhaps more well known, such as, Malwarebytes, Microsoft Security Essentials, Avast and AVG.
Advanced System Care provides many useful feature in the pro version, however, the features it provides can be acquired from many free apps. An example would be Glary Utilities. People who may be interested in buying its Pro version might find it more useful.
Besides CCleaner, Glary Utilities is arguably one of the most commonly used tools for junk file removal and system optimization. It has both a paid ($27.97) and free version. The latter itself is quite feature rich and comprehensive.
Glary Utilities arguable provides many features where many cleaners lag. These include, everything from comprehensive junk file removal to registry and broken shortcut fixes, trace erasing, spyware removal, startup management, empty folder removal and so on. You can check out the detailed overview of these and other features here.
I must admit that there are very few drawbacks of Glary Utilities, nonetheless, it does not provide some features, such as, enhanced system fixing and optimization options. It does not specify applications for which it removes clutter (like CCleaner does) and therefore, it can be a bit hard to determine the extent of clutter which is removed. It also does not have a portable version (at least none I can find), which reduces its mobility.
Glary Utilities is quite a comprehensive system cleaning and optimization application, but like all good things in the world, some of its enhanced features are only available in the Pro version. It also seems to have just too many features, many of which one might never use, hence making one get lost in the sub categories of its several options.
From the above mentioned comparison, I believe it is quite easy to choose a winner. We chose two; Glary Utilities and CCleaner. Although, I would like to add that I am still a staunch critic of CCleaner, yet it must be accepted that it is more easy to understand and use for beginners than some other apps. It will probably not delete files which you may need and allow you to select simplified options for clearing clutter. Nonetheless, my personal recommendation is Glary Utilities, specially for more advanced users. To illustrate an example of what I meant in relation to CCleaner, I must admit that I once accidentally removed a temporary file of Windows Live Writer because I did not configure detailed cleaning options of an application. Although I got my file back without any hassle, yet this might not be possible for starters. It must also be added however, that Glary Utilities still provides many features which are non existent in CCleaner, such as, Spyware removal and broken shortcut fixing, to name a few. At the end of the day CCleaner remains the favorite choice of the AddictiveTips Team, but I being an oddity, love Glary Utiltities more. Which cleaner would you prefer?