The first thing that many people do with their new computers is uninstall the bloatware. Or perhaps your old-ish PC is just bogged down with lots of applications that you don't use anymore. Whether it's a bunch of mindless games or a security suite that's not your favourite, clearing out the crap can help your machine run the way you want it to. Here are two highly recommended free uninstallers to help you get rid of unwanted clutter.
Where the built-in and sluggish Windows Add or Remove Programs option fails, freeware Revo picks up the slack. It builds out a useful feature set on top of a fairly light, 1.5MB installation. Launching Revo fires up the Uninstaller screen, which shows icons and titles of all programs installed on your machine. You can change the View to List or Details, if you'd like more information. Right-clicking gives users a list of choices, from the fundamental like Uninstall and Remove from list, to Search Google, Show the installation directory, and quick access to the app's Help file, its About screen and an Update link.
(Credit: Screenshot by Download.com)
Revo also provides some powerful tools. Advanced mode adds program-specific Registry key access to the context menu. The Tools Optimizer holds the Autorun Manager, Windows Tools access screen, and a Junk File finder/killer. The Autorun Manager provides one-stop shopping for startup tweaking. Windows Tools pulls together various and disparate basic utilities under one umbrella, and the Junk killer is just killer.
The Tools Tracks Cleaner accesses cache-cleaning features, include standard browser cache functions as well as crash memory dump files, MS Office cleaners, system-wide and program-specific search histories, and more. Another cool function is the Hunter, which offers click-and-drag uninstall and process-killing functionality. Revo and the way that it will revolutionise your uninstall workflow is hard to pass up.
The freeware CCleaner hasn't seen many major revisions since Piriform launched it in 2004, so when you do see a major update, you can be assured that it's going to come with impressive new tools. CCleaner 3 doesn't disappoint on that front, introducing two major new features that make it worth the upgrade.
(Credit: Screenshot by Download.com)
One is a drive wiping tool that can wipe all the data from your hard drive, but can also scrub only the available free space. As with many of the tools in CCleaner, it's fairly nuanced and allows for a simple one-pass overwrite, a US Department of Defense-level three-pass option, a US National Security Administration-level seven-pass cleaning, and a 35-pass Gutmann-level deep scrub. The more passes you select, the slower the deletion process.
Another key improvement to CCleaner 3 has been adding more options to pre-existing features. You can now select specific internet cookies to keep, across all your browsers, while CCleaner deletes the rest in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari. The benefit of this is to keep cookies for specific sites that you know to be safe, such as webmail, while getting rid of the rest that you don't want tracking you. Note that your browser must be closed for the cookie-deleting feature to work.
Other changes in version 3 include improvements to the internal scanning tech that powers CCleaner, and the interface received some minor tweaks to make icons more visible. If you're familiar with previous versions of the program, though, you'll be hard-pressed to find any differences between older CCleaners and the new one. Additional minor changes include a new native installer for 64-bit computers, and environment variables have been added for %SystemDirectory%, %SystemDirectory32% and %SystemDirectory64%.
Version 3 supports more Windows programs than before, including added support for Microsoft Silverlight Isolated Storage, AVG 2011, Audacity, LogMeIn Hamachi, BitTorrent and Windows Game Explorer. Pre-existing support has been improved for Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 9 beta and the torrent-managing client Vuze.
For users who are new to the program, in addition to browser tracks cleaning it will clean tracks from other programs, empty your recycle bin, delete temporary files and clean your Registry, quickly scanning for invalid entries before removing them. CCleaner will also back up your Registry before you hit delete, in case it accidentally removes a crucial component. There's also a basic, somewhat rudimentary uninstaller for removing any program on your machine. What Registry entries it doesn't catch, the main Registry checker will, but it's a two-step process that dedicated uninstallers handle nicely on their own.
In empirical testing, CCleaner 3 appeared to be marginally faster than previous versions. This is probably system dependent, so users with older computers could likely see significantly faster scan and cleaning times than in previous versions.
Problems with CCleaner are minor at best, and it remains a highly recommended, must-have weapon against system slowdowns, tracking cookies and the multitudinous debris that can clutter your computer.