technology and zen of life

“A heisenbug (named after the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle) is a computer bug that disappears or alters its characteristics when an attempt is made to study it.”

Junk in your PC’s trunk!

The title sounds dirty doesn’t it? Well, that’s because every once in a while your PC gets filled with non-useful files in it. It will remain there, unless you go ahead and clean it.

– Q: “So what if they are gathered? My PC has a lot of memory! It’s not like it would eat up a lot of it!”

– A: “Most of the times it slows down the performance of your computer.”

If you would like to know how to increase the performance of your PC, then there is an article that tells you about it. But in this article I’m going to tell you about a very neat software called “Crap Cleaner”. It searches for non-useful files in your PC system, and tells you about their existence. It can remove them for you, if you choose to. So let’s go ahead and see what it is capable of, shall we?

Where to get it?

This application is available for download for free from Pirifom’s website. Go ahead and download it to use it.

What does it look like?

Here is a snapshot of the program itself:

CCleaner: Main window

CCleaner: Main window

As you can see, the program has a menu on the left, a list that you can check/uncheck (with two tabs), and a big empty window on the right with two buttons underneath it. The left menu is obvious; if you would like to clean up the non-useful files, you go to the “Cleaner” section; if you would like to clean up the registry (be careful when you do so), you go to the “Registry” section. “Tools” contains some handy tools for PC maintenance, and “Options” is there so you can set your preferences for the program.

How to use it?

Before you use it, make sure that you understand what you are doing. If for any reason, you have doubts about what are about to do, consult with someone who has enough information about either you and/or your computer. Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how to use this application:

  1. In “Cleaner” section, under the “Windows” tab, let’s select what type of non-useful information we would like to remove. I have selected the list under “Internet Explorer”, “Windows Explorer”, “System” (except for “Windows Error Reporting”) and a couple of other options under the “Advanced” list. You may choose what you wish to check for and remove. If you are afraid of what would happen, then just check one of the boxes to see what happens. (Note: the items shown on your list may differ from what you see here, based on your Windows version (e.g. XP, Vista, 7, etc.), installed programs on your PC and version of the CCleaner that you use.)
  2. Go to the “Applications” tab and select which non-system applications you would like CCleaner to check.
  3. Once you have selected what you want to look for and clean, hit the “Analyze” button. It will take a few seconds (time may differ depending on your computer’s speed) until the search is finished. You can see the search progress in the big window that was empty when you ran the application and on the progress bar on top of it.
  4. Once the search is done, you can see the result in the big window. If you would like to remove the shown junk from your computer, hit the “Run Cleaner” button (Note: you can’t restore these files once they are removed). It begins analyzing the files again, cleans them and then shows you the final overall report of what has been removed.
  5. You’re done.

Once you become familiar with this application, you will see that it is actually not required to hit the “Analyze” button every time you attempt to clean-up your system. In other words, you can skip step 3 (just like me).

Let’s not forget the “Registry” cleaner part of this application! This part is very useful to remove all the non-useful information stored in the registry of your PC. This usually happens when you uninstall an application from your PC and the application forgets to remove the settings it has stored in the registry. For example, an application registers its files by providing it’s location in the registry. When Windows wants to access those files, it goes to the registry and looks up the location. If that application is removed without cleaning the registry value it created before, then Windows will go to that location and finds nothing there. But, how does this impact the performance? It’s these little times that Windows spends on bogus stuff. These times add up and you’ll find your PC doing something (which is not  useful in the end) for several seconds.

So, let’s begin checking and cleaning the Registry, shall we? Assuming you have CCleaner running:

  1. Go to the “Registry” section by clicking on the “Registry” button on the left.
  2. Select what type of problems you would like to check for and fix.
  3. hit the “Scan for Issues” button. CCleaner begins scanning every element in the Registry and checks them to see if they may be a problem or not. If they are, they get listed on the right side of the window.
  4. Once it is done, review the list and if you would like to fix those issues, hit the “Fix selected issues…” button. Read what is written carefully and fix the issues as you wish.
  5. Repeat step 2 to 4 until you don’t want to check anymore.
  6. You’re done.

Here is a little question: Why did I mention repeating in step 5? Wouldn’t it be done fixing all issues by then? The answer is simple: Information stored in Registry may contain dependency. It means that there may be some data (let’s call it “data X”) that points to nothing in your system, but there are other data that point to “data X”. In the first scan, “data X” is found because it points to bogus data. Once it is fixed (removed), the other data that pointed to “data X” are found, because they point to bogus data now (they pointed to “data X” before). Therefore running repeated scan and fix may help you to understand what has been exactly going on in the Registry.

How often should I do it?

Some people run it once a month, some run it every hour. It depends on you and how you use your computer. If you have OCD (like I do), you will probably end up using it every hour or so (I multi-task and clean the outer shell of my PC when I do it too). Here is a short view of what you may do with your computer:

  • Entertainment: Once every two years is more than enough. The entertainment use includes watching movies, listening to music, video calling or chatting online with friends and family.
  • Browsing the internet (YouTube, News websites, online gaming, etc.): Almost every two months is more than enough
  • Office suit type (writing documents, making datasheets, etc.): Every two months would be enough. Considering you use either Microsoft Office or Open Office, these applications may leave a small amount of useless files which in total would be a couple of Megabytes.
  • Making music or videos: Every two months would be enough, unless the applications you use for making music or videos has informed you already that it makes temporary files and it may forget to remove them. In that case, do it almost every week.
  • Application development: Considering that a developer (such as myself), constantly browses the web, listens to music online and his/her IDE uses the system resources almost all the time, once a week would be good. But then again, you (as a developer) would know better how much junk you create on your computer.
  • Software benchmarking (such as myself): Probably once a day. This is due to the large amount of softwares being installed and un-installed on your PC. Sometimes the installers forget to remove their temporary files after they have unpacked them in a temporary folder. If I don’t clean them up, I will end up having Gigabytes of useless data in my system.
  • OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder): I assume you are not wearing gloves while using your PC in a clean environment (this is how I use mine). Even if you wear gloves, it doesn’t make any difference on how often you should run this application. Use it when you know it needs to be cleaned of software junk. Or like me, use it when you think it might have a little bit of useless files in it’s system.

If you use your PC for other reasons than the ones stated above, it doesn’t mean that you do or do not need to use this application. The above list is just an example of what I think how people amy use their PC, most of the time. So, if you use it in

Summary

In this article I showed you how you can keep your PC clean of non-useful files stored in its system by using a very simple to use application called “CCleaner” (short for “Crap Cleaner”). I included a short step-by-step tutorial on how to use it and also mentioned briefly, how often you may need to use it. Whether you are a normal computer user or an IT administrator, this application is a great tool to have on your USB stick or your PC as a part of your maintenance pack.

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About Armin Noroozi

I am a(n): - Nerdfighter; - Application developer; - YouTuber; - Student of TUDelft (Netherlands); - artArmin; - Horrible singer! #define Nerdfighter: A person who (instead of being made out of bones, skin and tissue) is made entirely of awesome! [ http://www.nerdfighters.com ] #define Application developer: It means I write applications (softwares) for computers and embedded systems. I also design reconfigurable computer hardware (on FPGA). [ http://www.artarmin.com ] #define TUDelft Technische Universiteit Delft [ http://ce.et.tudelft.nl/~armin ] #define YouTuber A person who makes vlogs, music videos, short film, long film, etc. and uploads them to YouTube. [ http://www.youtube.com/arminelec ] #define artArmin My website and my company name which is visible in my applications. #define Horrible Singing Makes you rather listen to the noise of nail scratching the blackboard, than my voice. .::._.::._.::._.::._.::._.::. .:: artArmin.com ::. http://www.artarmin.com/ .::._.::._.::._.::._.::._.::. DFTBA

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