There are so many scammy registry cleaners and PC optimizers on the market that it makes my head spin. If you spend any amount of time on the Internet, you’ve already seen advertisements for similar products that promise to speed up and clean up your PC in a jiffy. But some of these advertisements are actually viruses masquerading as legitimate software.
Other times, the software may be legitimate, but strings you along with a free version then tries to get you to make a purchase for the full, pro version. And sometimes, these tools slap you in the face with annoying adware and browser modifications to inundate you with tons of advertising.
Because the optimization and PC cleanup market is littered with many unsavory scams, you need to do a bit of research ahead of time to see whether the service is legitimate and if it’s worth the time and effort to download, install, and use.
This gives you a chance to test things out before you make a purchase, but I will warn you: the free versions are stripped down and only offer the most basic functionality.
CCleaner chose to separate its product into different service levels, ranging from free all the way to the premium version. Each higher-level package contains all the features of the next lowest package but adds a little extra functionality. Unfortunately, the service isn’t modular, so you can’t mix and match features from different levels.
Nevertheless, I think CCleaner does a great job of being affordable, and it provides more features than the average competitor. In fact, I really love how it includes a free version as well. As you would expect, the free version lacks advanced functionality and is rather streamlined. Still, it’s free and is better than nothing. The free version includes three basic features, as follows:
I know that may not sound like a lot, but you could do a whole lot worse, especially if we’re only talking about free versions. IT professionals and power users can perform these housekeeping tasks without the need of the free version, but the average user who’s just looking for a quick way to speed up their PC likely has need of these features.
But I was happy that it had a browser cleanup function. The average user doesn’t know how to go about deleting cookies and cleaning up their browser appropriately.
If you want more features than the free version has to offer, you’ll have to purchase the Professional plan. The following outlines the Professional plan’s features:
Interestingly enough, it seems that the main improvement – in my opinion – is the addition of antivirus scanning. However, it’s really only ‘light’ protection.
While it can scan running processes in real-time and protect against malware, it simply isn’t full-featured enough to be a proper replacement for a full antivirus application.
If you’re looking for free antivirus, I highly recommend the free version of AVG. At any rate, there is a Professional Plus plan too, which adds a few extra features.
If you ask me, the real advantage to the Professional Plus plan is the file recovery feature. However, there are some free Linux tools that are easy enough to use if you know your way around the Linux terminal.
There are even a few free Windows applications, both command line and GUI, that are adept at file recovery. The real advantage to the Professional Plus plan, in my opinion, is ease of use for a typical user.
I have to grudgingly admit that I was overwhelmed and surprised with all the features that Glary Utilities offered – and I don’t say that lightly. Glary seems to have tried to foster a competitive advantage by making a superior product that simply outperforms all the other optimization tools in this niche.
In fact, many of the features aren’t traditionally found with optimization software. Rather, some of the features are more akin to antivirus protection, data management, data backup software, and even Windows repair utilities. And I think that that’s pretty darn impressive. Seriously, Glary has more than twice the functionality of CCleaner, which is nothing to sneeze at.
To give you a better idea of Glary Utilities’ capabilities, note that the following list outlines all of the main features (though there are some smaller tools and utilities I couldn’t mention for the sake of brevity):
I did also want to take a moment and issue a warning concerning an older version of CCleaner (version 5.33). It seems that the software has encountered a “security anomaly.” The download of CCleaner, even digitally signed versions of 5.33, have been found to be compromised with a malicious backdoor that can compromise your PC.
It seems that only the 32-bit version was affected. Piriform, owner and developer of CCleaner, made the announcement on its blog. Once the virus has infected a host, it will lie dormant for five minutes and then start stealing information, including the following:
All of this information could be used to search for other weaknesses and launch further attacks, not to mention compromise your sensitive and private information. However, I don’t want to impugn the honor of Piriform, which was acquired by Avast, or CCleaner. CCleaner is, in fact, legitimate software; it simply has a single older version of its software that was victimized by a hacker.
So, if you use CCleaner, double check to make sure you’re not using version 126.96.36.19962. If you’re not using that version, you’re in the clear. Otherwise, you will want to install it and reinstall a later version ASAP.
I have to admit, I’m rather partial to CCLeaner. It just does such a great job, has fair pricing, and doesn’t take advantage of its customers. Plus, the free version is a massive help to the average user, helping people speed up their slow PCs without spending a dime.
Having said that, I was absolutely shocked at how competitive Glary is with CCleaner. Not only is the price of Glary fair, but I think Glary actually offers a better value. Why? Well, Glary does have a free version just like CCleaner.
But the real advantage ofGlary is it’s massive wealth of features. There are other competitors in the registry cleaning and optimization niche of software that don’t include half of Glary’s features in their premium version!