No matter how powerful your computer might be, its performance will eventually degrade over time. After a few years of use, your computer might start to struggle with running programs or opening files. Games might lag, and your computer might take several minutes to boot. Even worse, you might be unable to save certain large files, or some programs might malfunction.
A common culprit for performance degradation is when your hard disk, which stores all of your data, becomes filled with files. As less space becomes available and the clutter accumulates, it becomes harder for your computer to save new files or to retrieve old ones, leading to slower performance. Disk cleaner programs can help solve this problem by erasing unnecessary files as needed, helping to maintain enough free space in your hard disk for smooth operation.
When programs run, they create temporary files to assist in their operations. Many of these programs do not bother to delete these files even after they stop running, and over time these junk files can accumulate.
Other files can also be considered junk, depending on the circumstances. For example, some installers serve no purpose after the program they hold is installed, and these can be regarded as junk files especially if they take up a lot of space. Web browsers create cookies for logging into websites, and they also use caching, which involves downloading web files to make sites load faster in subsequent visits. The files generated from these processes can take up a lot of space if not managed properly.
What To Look For In Disk Cleaners
Well-written programs organize their files well, and it should be fairly easy for scanners to detect the location of temporary files for these programs. However, methods for dealing with temporary files may still vary, especially for outdated software. A good disk cleaner should detect and erase these junk files without affecting more important data, as deleting the latter may cause applications to malfunction or even compromise the stability of the operating system.
As new programs come out every day and old ones are updated frequently, a good disk cleaner also needs to be updated regularly by its development team to ensure that it can still properly detect the junk files left by newer software.
Disk cleaners should also ideally allow the user to choose which of the detected junk files to delete, whether individually or through selecting by file type. Some disk cleaners can run on a schedule so that unnecessary files do not have the chance to accumulate. Some take it a step further by running in the background and deleting junk files after they have served their purpose.
Available Disk Cleaners
Fortunately, there is an abundance of effective disk cleaners, and Windows itself offers a Disk Cleaner utility. It automatically detects files that are safe to delete and allows users to delete files according to type. It has a separate option to identify and remove temporary system items, which can include files associated with old Windows versions if the device previously used an older operating system.
Third-party software can come in handy for users who want more control over the cleaning process, as well as other features not present in the native Windows utility. For example, CCleaner is a popular cleaner that provides all of the features mentioned above, with the additional option to securely delete files by overwriting them with random data to make data recovery extremely difficult. Another popular choice is BleachBit, which is cross-platform compatible and supports a portable version that can be carried around in a USB storage device. This software also offers scans in two levels: a normal depth scan and a deep scan that includes system files.
Note that whatever software you choose, disk cleaning will generally help you recover more storage and speed up your computer significantly. Include this as part of your maintenance procedures to keep your device running in good shape.