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Like most computer repair guys, I have a software toolkit of sorts, comprised of my favorite programs. One of my favorites, which I have used for years, is called Ccleaner.

Ccleaner used to be called Crap Cleaner, but the program’s authors decided to change the name in the hopes of reaching a wider audience. As a result, Ccleaner has become one of the most popular computer maintenance utilities on the Internet, because it does exactly what it’s supposed to do: clean the crap out of your computer.

Ccleaner comes in both a paid and free version, but the free version does what most folks need. To get the free version, type piriform.com in the address bar of your browser and press the enter key. You will be directed to piriform.com, Piriform being the company that owns Ccleaner.

Click the Ccleaner “Free Download button” and pick “Ccleaner free” on the next page that appears. The download function should start automatically. Remember the file name, save the file to a location you can remember, and, when through downloading, double-click the file to install the program. During the installation process, I prefer to opt out of Ccleaner’s “Intelligent cookie scan” and auto-update functions, and refuse installation of third-party toolbars or other additional fluff like Google Chrome. The program will make an icon on your desktop that looks like a big, red “C.”

Double-click the Ccleaner icon to start the program. A window may pop up asking if you want to use the “Intelligent cookie scan,” Since I do not allow my browser to store login password cookies, I always click the “No” button in this box.

When the program opens, you will see Ccleaner’s four main functions: Cleaner, Registry, Tools and Options. Cleaner and Registry are the functions you will use most often, although you may occasionally want to use the Drive Wiper feature found in the Tools section.

When Ccleaner starts up, it opens in the Cleaner function. All you have to do is click “Run Cleaner” to make it work; you can ignore the Analyze button. When you click “Run Cleaner” for the first time, a scary box pops up that says, “This process will permanently delete files from your system. Are you sure you wish to proceed?” Put a check mark in the little box that says, “Do not show me this message again,” and click OK.

The Cleaner function will run, with a green progress bar appearing at the top. When finished, a message will say “Cleaning Complete,” and a list of everything that was cleaned will appear at the bottom. The cleaning function usually completes in a very short time, but if you have never before emptied the Recycle bin, deleted temporary files or cleaned out cookies, the process can last much longer.

When running the Cleaner function, I like to add additional check marks to certain boxes: Autocomplete Form History, Saved Passwords, Network Passwords, DNS Cache, Windows Event Logs, Old Prefetch Data and Custom Files and Folders. Then, at the top of the list, I will click the Applications tab and check-mark everything in that list. The reasons for this are explained in my previous column of 3-6-11 titled, “Careful where you click,” which may be found on my website.

Check the “Do not show me this message again” box in the next window that appears, and click OK. Ccleaner will run and, depending on your computer usage, clean an amazing amount of crud out of your system.

Next week, we will look at the Registry and Drive Wiper functions of Ccleaner.