PC Cleaning Programs
O'k, let's talk about PC cleaning programs, but if relevant, Mac-related issues will be allowed as well.
The story begins with registries and "crapware" - i.e. residues of uninstalled programs and other weird leftovers.
Such companies as Piriform developed certain stuff to help people deal with it. For example, it's famous CCleaner.
Well, I never used it, but just installed one - v.184.108.40.20676 (just released the other day).
However, my first question will be - what sort of animal the registry is? Is it related to physical data or the file system? or both?
Now, when installing, in the installation dialogue I unchecked only the upper two boxes (related to creating tags/icons in certain places), while left the rest of it checked - including the probably one in the bottom which was about some "intelligent cookie management" or whatever it was. Will I have problems now? I wish to not usually touch stuff that is normally handled by other applications (hi, Blackbird!).
Well, also, I didn't use the "Advanced" button this time either.
And one more, interesting question: will a CCleaner be cleaning after uninstalling another, previous CCleaner version (copy)? It might happen you'll need to do some such change, right?
Cleaners can poop too, can't they?
And this question I left for a comment - as it seems less general.
On the Piriform support page, I noticed some feedback input boxes near the bottom, and it further says something about your "product license key":
If you've lost your product licence key or download link, use our handy lost licence key lookup tool to retrieve them
Well, generally, I heard about such things, but now I didn't notice any such thing, so far. Is it for - what?
Huh! Now I tried clicking "to retrieve" - mostly to learn what would happen:) And it says "
Please enter the email address you used when you bought your software." there.
Well, I didn't buy anything. :whistle:
Like most free software, CCleaner's free version lacks certain features included in its paid versions. You've discovered one of them.
Regarding your initial question about what the registry is, it's a set of hidden files that tells the system what software exists on the system, where it is, what its digital connections to the computer and other software need to be, when to do what, and so on. You can access the registry files using RegEdit or other 3rd-party tools. When a program is "installed" into Windows, it provides information to the OS so that the correct registry entries ("keys") can be made in the correct places in the registry; when a program is uninstalled, it's supposed to tell the OS how to remove all the registry entries it's created. Unfortunately, entries get made by the OS that the software's uninstaller may not know of because of unique OS settings or the uninstaller simply isn't well enough designed to remove all the entries it told the OS to make. Either way, those entries left behind are orphaned. Usually, these shouldn't cause noticeable problems, but sometimes they may interfere or confuse the OS or other software operations in some critical area, and then need to be cleaned out.
The thing to note is that with a program like CCleaner, it won't do anything unless you tell it to - especially "removing" reg keys or history or privacy files or whatever. And the rule to observe is never to tell it remove anything unless you know and agree with what it is doing (which is why you have all the check-boxes for whatever you want it to remove).
So, when I first run it, or otherwise open it, - it'll ask me first what I want to do, is it so?
It won't "go wild", eh?
Not if you don't go click-happy and tell it to delete or "fix" something. When it first opens, it will present you with a list of areas that can be analyzed (registry, history, etc). Select an area, then check-mark select the subcategories of that area you want examined. Then merely scan to see what it comes up with. The scan result list will have all its removal-candidate findings pre-check-marked, but never immediately tell it to delete or "fix" the check-marked results without first checking (and double-checking) each entry yourself... uncheck anything you aren't sure should be removed (which means anything whose name/details you don't recognize as something you want removed).
So, I can't seem to undertake a general sweep - a check-up&c. not urgently aimed at a particular problem but due to years of "uncontrolled" use?
Well, I might manage to remember/recognise some strings in the results that would remind me of crap/deleted stuff/failed installs, but - beyond that?
The original concept behind the tool was that it would allow a user to first scan, then remove, all the "crap" left behind when a user of a brand-new computer had finished removing a mass of junk-ware that came bundled with his new system. So, much like an AV program, it scans for problem areas on a system. In the case of the registry, it can look for registry entries that are problematic: missing parent programs, defective links, specified file-name extensions that aren't used by anything, and so on. Then it pops up a list showing what the problematic reg keys indicate within themselves.
Hence, in doing a registry cleanup, the program's concept is to scan the registry for reg keys that aren't "correct", regardless of why, and let the user decide if they should be removed. As noted earlier, incorrect keys often contain program names or links to program-named files so that you can identify what the key was attached to even if the related program is no longer installed. In the case of flagged reg keys that don't have easily-recognized program names attached, there will normally be a file name or something that can be Googled. If that reveals it was attached uniquely to a program I know is no longer on the system, I will normally allow it to be deleted; if it reveals a link to a program still in use on the computer (particularly if the parent program resides on a removable CD, like some copy-protected games), I will normally leave it alone, even it the cleaner thinks something is wrong with it. If Googling reveals nothing that I can make sense of, I leave it alone. The idea is to avoid breaking something on the system that presently works (IIABDFI - if it ain't broke, don't fix it). In most cases, simple left-behind keys won't cause system problems... one should be doing the scan primarily because there are indeed problems being experienced after uninstalling software. Just cleaning up a registry merely to have it be "squeaky clean" is a dangerous practice for the untrained - as the olde sea maps used to say: there be dragons.
In the case of privacy scanning/cleaning, the cleaner program can scan and remove privacy-betraying elements specifically in certain named, installed programs (which it shows) that you select, such as a specific browser's history and cookie files, etc. That's why there are different "areas" of use shown in the program's left-hand panel (on my version). The tool's characteristics are tailored to the area of usage.
In the case of privacy scanning/cleaning...
Is it "the other", "non-registry" functionality (which we discussed had been added afterwards)?
In my older version of CCleaner, the categories on the left side of its main panel are Cleaner, Registry, Tools, and Options. Under Cleaner are listed Windows and Applications tabs for privacy/history/etc elements of either the Windows system or specific installed apps running on it. When these kinds of things are "cleaned" after scanning, the system actually deletes the offending files or records. Typically these kinds of things include browsing history, cookies, search results, and so on... though you can select which specific kinds of things for each app.