Although Windows is a very capable operating system, it is infamous for its deteriorating performance over time. This seems to occur with every system, and isn’t fully curable without performing a complete re-install of the system. However, with the help of some clever system cleaners, you can drastically increase the life expectancy of your system before you have to resort to a re-installation.
While there are a handful of system cleaners out there for users to try, some of the top solutions include CCleaner, IObit Advanced SystemCare, and SlimCleaner. All three of these solutions aim to increase the performance of your system so that it can perform optimally. I compared these three programs based on their interface, features, scan times, and results. An ideal cleaner should have a simple, easy to use interface with effective features, quick scan times and accurate and helpful results. After all, there is such a thing as cleaning too much.
Interface: CCleaner is one of the most recommended system cleaners for anybody to use – it includes an extremely clean, sane interface. All of its navigational buttons can be found along the left side of the window which lists off the different functions of the application. If a function has more sub-functions, these are also listed off along the left side. I also enjoy that it shows system statistics at the top of the screen in a nicely formatted style. However, some people could argue that it’s a bit boring, but hey, it’s a system cleaner isn’t it?
Features: CCleaner comes with a:
- file cleaner
- registry cleaner
- startup manager
- program uninstaller
- system restore point manager
- drive wiper
The file cleaner takes a look at all temporary Windows files it can remove as well as temporary files stored by various supported third party applications, including Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Flash, and more. Some of the supported options increase the overall time of the cleaning process (such as the “wipe free space” option), and CCleaner will warn you if this is the case as soon as you select the item. Some similar warnings apply to a few other possible selections.
Scan Time and Results: Selecting all of the available cleaning options led to a scan time of 10.862 seconds, and it found a total of 1,645 MB to remove. Scanning for registry issues took another ~3 seconds. Of course, the scan times and disk space to be recovered will vary based on your system’s performance and how much stuff you actually have on your system, but we’re using these statistics in comparison to the other two system cleaners.
Looking at the list of results returned, I’d say that CCleaner is very effective at removing the crud that you really don’t need. Better yet, it doesn’t cause harm by deleting too much — a problem that plagued earlier system cleaners.
Summary: CCleaner is a lean application that does an excellent job of wiping up the mess that Windows and other applications create. Compared to other applications, however, it doesn’t include quite as many tools for further optimizations.
Interface: IObit Advanced SystemCare (IAS) is a system cleaner that we’ve covered at MakeUseOf before with great reviews, but how does it compare? Its interface is very flashy, but it’s also interesting and makes me feel like the application is powerful. It’s very well organized and even includes different interfaces for beginners and experts. I like it a lot, and I’m sure most people will too.
Features: IAS packs a lot of different features to get into every nook and cranny of your system. It offers the ability to:
- clean temporary files
- remove malware
- defragment disk
- clean and defragment registry
- shred files
- uninstall software
- manage startup programs
- close certain services while playing games or working
- undelete files
- boosts Internet speed
- and more!
These features aim to clean up your system and optimize the way it runs, not only from the disk perspective but also based on what’s running in your RAM. IAS is therefore more of a system optimizer than just a simple cleaner.
Scan Time and Results: I went into Care and chose all available settings and had it scan my system. It returned “12275 problems” in 1 minute and 8 seconds after checking 12 different types of issues. It also returned to me my levels of Security, Performance, and Stability. Apparently my Security was bad, Performance was medium, and Stability was good.
I was a bit skeptical about the results at first based off of the different categories, but after looking at the suggestions it makes, it seems to be legitimate and helpful. I wouldn’t mind applying all of the suggested fixes.
Summary: This application has an awesome interface and lots of ways to improve your system. The only downside to the application is that it does have lots of ads for its Pro version, but it works charms as long as you click those ads away. The free version isn’t a trial, so you won’t be forced to upgrade.
Interface: Last but not least, I took a look at SlimCleaner. I found its interface to be decent — it has custom, glossy elements all around. Items are also well organized, so it’s not difficult to find the right tool that you need to clean or optimize your system.
Features: SlimCleaner packs a handful of useful tools, including:
- remove temporary files from the system and third party apps
- sweep through the registry
- “optimize” your system by controlling which programs and services launch during boot
- uninstall programs, Windows updates, browser add-ons
- Disk Tools which includes a shredder, wiper, and defragmenter
- Windows Tools which provides access to various Windows system settings and tools
Scan Time and Results: I tested out the cleaner by choosing all available options and selecting Analyze. If you use this program, make sure not to click on Auto Clean — that will let it delete everything it finds without giving you any additional warnings. SlimCleaner is pretty efficient when it comes to cleaning; the scan took just 4.765 seconds to complete, and it found ~2.5 GB of recoverable space. I scanned through the results list and I didn’t find anything suspicious, so it is pretty safe to use for cleaning. It especially found System Log Files and Windows Error Reporting files that could be removed.
Summary: SlimCleaner is a decent solution that has access to a large variety of different cleaning and optimization tools. While it’s interface is a bit tacky, it’s fully functional and ready to work for you. Sadly, it took a few seconds to initially load despite the fact that I have an SSD, so it was rather slow. “Slim”Cleaner may not be the best name for this application.
I believe that all three cleaners are great choices and that it mainly comes to your personal preferences as to which one you prefer the most. However, there are still differences between the three, and after an objective review, IAS is the declared winner. It simply offers the best interface and most optimization tools in a single package. Be advised that, while cleaning shouldn’t cause system damage (although still possible), some tasks may not make any performance improvements. Registry cleaning is one such example. However, if speed is what you’re after, check out our Windows Speed-Up Guide!
For more great Windows software, check out our Best Windows Software page!
Which system cleaner do you think is best? Why do you think so? Let us know in the comments!
Image Credit: babyruthinmd