How To Tune Up Your PC (and cover your tracks!) with CCleaner

CCleaner is an easy-to-use system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool that was designed with the masses in mind. The simplistic layout of this application allows even the novice user to perform a tune-up on their Windows-based computer quickly and easily. The results speak for themselves – a faster running system with some additional and valuable free hard disk space. CCleaner will also remove the tracks left behind by your browsing habits, securing you against prying eyes.


In this tutorial I’ll walk you through the basics of performing a PC tune-up.

Install CCleaner

Installing CCleaner is as easy as downloading the installer and walking through the wizard. There are no hard questions or complicated configuration steps. In fact, the only change I made to the default configuration was to remove the checkmark next to “Add CCLeaner Yahoo! Toolbar and use CCleaner from your browser“. The entire installation process takes only minutes to complete and the package is spyware and malware free.

I removed the checkmark next to the Yahoo! toolbar option
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Configure CCleaner

Once you have CCleaner installed, launch the application via the start menu or desktop icons. Click the Options tab on the left-hand side, then click on Settings. At the bottom of the window, you can select the Secure file deletion radio button, then select the level of protection that you require. Simple Overwrite will suffice for the average user. If you happen to be worried about someone being able to recover the files that CCleaner deleted, then you can pick a higher level of security. The Gutman option will make recovery of such files next to impossible.

Simple Overwrite should suffice
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Running the Cleaner

Now that your settings are configured, you can start the cleaning process by clicking the Cleaner tab, also located on the left-hand side. The default selections here will most likely get you the results you are looking for. Click Analyze and give CCleaner a couple of minutes to complete an assessment on your computer. The tool will scan through the selected locations looking for files that are deemed a candidate for deletion.

After 147 seconds, my scan revealed that I could remove 197.8MB of garbage files. Underneath the analysis summary, you can find a listing of the specific files that will be deleted if you choose to continue. All that’s left is to click the Run Cleaner button and wait for the magic to happen. If you selected a high level of secure file deletion, you should expect the process to take a number of minutes to complete. To clear out some additional files, wait for the cleaning to complete, then select the Applications tab and run it again.

This should speed up your computer a little bit and the free space you created is definitely an added bonus.

Click to enlarge

Cleaning the Registry

One of the best uses for this tool is the Registry cleaner. Due to the number of applications that store information inside the Registry, it’s quite easy for the issues to pile up. This can lead to system slow downs or errors. CCleaner has you covered. Just select the Registry tab on the left hand side and click the Scan for Issues button. After a few minutes you should see a complete list of the problems that were found. Click Fix selected issues to initiate the Registry clean-up.

I strongly encourage you click Yes when prompted to backup your registry. Save the backup file to a location that you will remember. The default location is your Documents folder, which is as good a place as any. The Registry is a very fragile thing and having a backup will ensure that you can recover from any potential problems. Don’t get too scared though, I have used CCleaner on dozens of computers and haven’t had any incidents.

You should always do this

Now you can finish the Registry cleanup by clicking the Fix All Selected Issues button. Once completed, click the close button and give yourself a pat on the back. You just tuned up your computer and you did a pretty good job of it too!

Additional Tools

CCleaner comes with some additional tools to help you keep your PC in tip-top shape. Selecting the Tools tab on the left-hand side opens up the Uninstall and Startup management tools. Uninstall is basically the same as Add and Remove Programs in the Windows Control Panel. The extra bonus is that you can also delete entries for applications that were previously removed, but still show up in the program listing.

The startup manager allows you to disable or delete registry startup keys. Simply select the program that you no longer want to run on startup and either delete or disable it. If you are a novice user, I would recommend disabling such entries, that way if you make a mistake you can enable the program again at a later date.

One last tip – if you don’t know what the program is, don’t disable it because you might need it. If you have concerns about a particular program, try Googling the name of it and you will likely find some information on its purpose.


Norm is a a Canadian IT professional with 12 years of experience under his belt as a Technology Architect, Microsoft Certified Application Developer and as an Analyst. He has written numerous articles for multiple technology blogs, in addition to his own blog

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