Remove temporary and duplicate files with CCleaner

By , Last modified: 2015-02-26.

How to delete unneeded temporary and duplicate files with CCleaner in Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1

Users of CCleaner version 4.18 and later can launch the program by right-clicking its icon in Taskbar's Notification Area (aka System Tray) and selecting Open CCleaner from the menu.
CCleaner icon in System Tray. To run the program, right-click its icon and choose 'Open CCleaner'.

Alternatively, open Start menu or Start screen by pressing Windows Key on keyboard.
Window XP users should choose All Programs, find CCleaner folder and click CCleaner:
CCleaner in Windows XP Start menu, All Programs, CCleaner folder.

Windows Vista and 7 users should type "ccleaner" into Search box and click CCleaner in search results.
Windows 7, Start menu. To run CCleaner, type ccleaner and click the result.

In Windows 8 and 8.1 Start screen, type "ccleaner" (you do not need to open Search charm) and click it in the results.
Touch-screen owners should swipe in from the right and tap Search first.
Windows 8, Start screen. To run CCleaner, type ccleaner and click the result.

To disable User Account Control prompts, open Options tab on the left and click Advanced. Then enable the Skip User Account Control warning option.
Those who need some extra security while removing temporary files, should tick both Only delete files in Windows Temp folders older than 24 hours and Only delete files in Recycle Bin older than 24 hours check boxes.
If you want to be able to clear Taskbar Jump Lists in Windows 7 and newer, make sure the Enable Windows Jump List Tasks check box is ticked.
CCleaner, Options tab, Advanced. To turn off UAC prompts upon program launch, tick the 'Skip User Account Control warning' check box.

Multiple user accounts considerations

Free version of CCleaner affects only global temporary files (created by Windows itself) and those of the currently logged-on user. If you have multiple user accounts on your PC and you need to gain maximum disk and registry optimization, you must either run CCleaner from each account separately or use the Run as different user command. The latter is available in Windows 7 and newer: hold down Shift key and right-click CCleaner icon to access it. You must then enter the other user's name and password.

You can also buy CCleaner Professional to do the job for multiple accounts automatically.

Which items to select in CCleaner

CCleaner has several sections by programs and item types. You can right-click any section to use commands like Check all, Uncheck all, Analyze, Clean or Restore default state. For individual items, Analyze, Clean and Restore default state commands are available.
So if you want to, you can clean or analyze any single item or section available, or restore CCleaner default selections.
CCleaner, Section right-click menu.

If you want to clear all traces of your web browsing, tick all items in Internet Explorer section.

For casual cleaning, deselect History, Recently Typed URLs, Index.dat files, Last Download Location and Autocomplete Form History check boxes instead.
If you are using some two-step (aka 2-factor or 2FA) authentication for Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft or other accounts, you might want to clear Cookies check box to avoid re-authenticating.

Click to enable Saved Passwords. It is extremely important to clear browser cache of stored passwords, because any malware can steal the login details easily. Use Password Safe for safely storing and filling login information instead.
Please note that selecting Saved Passwords triggers a warning dialog. Click OK.
CCleaner, Warning about Saved Passwords. Click OK.

In the Windows Explorer section, deselect all items. These are things you probably do not want to be removed, as they help you find previously used addresses, commands and user names.
Select these items only if you want to completely remove traces of your computer usage - for example, to clear Windows Search history (not Internet Explorer!), activate the Search Autocomplete option.

In Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1, you can select Thumbnail Cache if you recently deleted hundreds of photos or videos, otherwise Windows will just rebuild the same previews of the same photos and videos you already have on your computer.

In Windows 7 and newer, you can select Taskbar Jump Lists if you want to completely remove history for applications' Jump Lists.

If your computer is not connected to a local network (LAN) that uses Workgroups or Domain, select Network Passwords. These are stored user names and passwords that connect to remote printers and file shares. Without any file and printer sharing, there is no need to keep those credentials.

In System section, most users should select all items. These are temporary and cached files generally not needed, plus items on Desktop and Start menu/Start screen that are invalid (pointing to files or programs that do not exist anymore).

If you experience frequent Windows crashes (aka Blue Screens of Death or BSOD-s) or spontaneous restarts, do not turn on the Memory Dumps option. Use free WhoCrashed for analysing the crash dump files and determining the cause of problems. You can safely delete the old dumps only after you've resolved the problems, or you do not have any trouble with Windows or installed programs.

Below are Windows XP and Windows Vista/7/8/8.1 versions of CCleaner:
Windows XP, CCleaner, Cleaner tab, Windows. In Internet Explorer section, clear everything except for 'Temporary Internet Files', 'Cookies' and 'Saved Passwords'. Activate only 'Network Passwords' in the Windows Explorer section. Turn on all options in System section. Windows 8.1, CCleaner, Cleaner tab, Windows. In Internet Explorer section, clear everything except for 'Temporary Internet Files', 'Cookies' and 'Saved Passwords'. Activate only 'Network Passwords' in the Windows Explorer section. Turn on all options in System section.

Windows XP users should scroll all the way down and tick Old Prefetch data, Environment PathIIS Log Files and Hotfix Uninstallers check boxes in Advanced section. The last item will probably free up loads of disk space if you've used Windows XP on the PC for years.

In Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1, enable the Old Prefetch data, Environment Path and IIS Log Files options. The IIS check box might not be available in Windows 8 and 8.1.

Never enable the Windows Event Logs option: Event Viewer helps a lot in troubleshooting, plus user and system monitoring.

Those who want to be extra safe, can turn on the Wipe Free Space option: this will make recovering deleted items much harder, but it will also consume a lot more time (from 10 minutes to several hours, depending on the amount of space available).
Windows XP, CCleaner, Cleaner tab, Windows. In the Advanced section, select 'Old Prefetch data', 'Environment Path', 'IIS Log Files' and 'Hotfix Uninstallers'. Windows 8.1, CCleaner, Cleaner tab, Windows. In the Advanced section, select 'Old Prefetch data', 'Environment Path' and 'IIS Log Files'. The latter might not be available.

You should also check what's under Applications tab. If you have other Internet browsers (Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, etc) installed, uncheck their Internet History, Session and Saved Form Information boxes first for casual cleaning.

Tick the Saved Passwords check box for all browsers (this will open the same warning dialog as with Internet Explorer, click OK there) and then select Compact Databases item for Firefox, Google Chrome and Opera.

As usual, if you want to delete every hint of your web browsing instead, enable all options for all browsers.

Please note that you should close Internet browsers before moving on to the next step.
For other types of applications, it is usually safe to select all items.
CCleaner, Cleaner tab, Applications. For web browsers, deselect 'Internet History', 'Session' and 'Saved Form Information' boxes. Tick 'Saved Passwords' and 'Compact Databases' for all browsers. CCleaner, Cleaner tab, Applications. Enable all options for non-browsers.

You could click the Analyze button next and see an analysis about what's going to be deleted, but that is usually a waste of time - you're going to delete the unnecessary files anyway. Move right on by clicking the Run Cleaner button.
CCleaner, Cleaner tab. To remove selected items, click the 'Run Cleaner' button.

CCleaner will warn you that you are going to delete files permanently. Click OK.
CCleaner, This process will pemanently delete files from your system, Are you sure you wish to proceed? Click OK.

Although CCleaner is able to remove items related to Internet Explorer while the program is open, it will display a warning if you have some third-party web browser open. Click Yes to close it automatically, or close it yourself.
Some browser processes might take a long time to close (Firefox is a good example), so CCleaner will warn about this - click No after waiting for about 5-10 seconds more.
CCleaner, browser needs to be closed to clean the Internet Cache, Do you want CCleaner to close browser? Click Yes. CCleaner, The application is taking a long time to close, Would you like to force it to close? Wait about 10 seconds and click No.

After a few seconds to a few minutes or so, you'll see a "Cleaning complete" message with time consumed and details of files deleted.
CCleaner, cleaning complete

CCleaner monitoring

CCleaner version 4.18 and newer have automatic temporary files monitoring option enabled by default. This means an additional icon in Taskbar's Notification area (System Tray). You can right-click (or tap and hold on touch screens) the icon to clean up temporary files with the last used settings by selecting Run CCleaner. Please note that the action will not be confirmed and no windows will appear.
Open CCleaner launches the program with the rights of currently logged on user; Options should be self-explanatory; Show last notification reveals the latest info popup, and Exit turns off the monitoring until you restart your PC or sign in again.
CCleaner icon in System Tray. To delete unneeded files without any confirmations, right-click the icon and choose 'Run CCleaner'.

This is what a CCleaner Alert looks like: it displays the amount of disk space you can save by removing unneeded files, and provides the Click here to open CCleaner button. On top right of the notification, there are two buttons: the left one allows pinning and unpinning the alert, and the one on the right closes the alert.
CCleaner Alert, cleaning can save disk space. Click the button to launch CCleaner.

To disable or enable CCleaner monitoring, open the program, click Options tab and choose Monitoring. Now select or deselect the Enable system monitoring check box.
CCleaner, Options tab, Monitoring. To turn on the real-time monitoring of temporary files that can be removed safely, tick the 'Enable system monitoring' check box.

Checking disk space usage by file type with CCleaner

Since version 5.01, the Disk Analyzer tool in CCleaner helps to find large files you completely forgot about. Beware: this is a tool that also lists important system files if you configure it incorrectly - so please do not remove any item you do not know about.

Open Tools tab and click Disk Analyzer. By default, the feature will find picture, music and video files, plus common document types. This is fine in most cases.

If you do want to enhance the results, you can also tick the Compressed check box in Categories section, but please make sure you do not delete files in system folders such as Windows, Program Files, MSOCache (MS Office installation cache folder), etc.

Tick the drive(s) you want to check and click Analyze.
CCleaner, Tools tab, Disk Analyzer. The default Categories are fine. Choose the drive(s) you want to check and click Analyze.

The process will take several minutes to complete, depending on the total number of files on the drive, and the speed of the disk.

You can click any item in the list of categories or the pie chart to display only the files that fall into the selected category. To show all detected files again, click All Categories on the left.

The file list in the bottom can be sorted by any column visible. Use check boxes to select or deselect displayed items.
If you have linked some folders with Junction or MKLink to get around the limitations of OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive), Dropbox or Google Drive, you will see duplicate entries for all files in these folders - do not delete any of these with Disk Analyzer!
CCleaner, Tools tab, Disk Analyzer, results. The file list below can be sorted by any column. Click a category name above to display only these file types.

You can hold down Shift key to select multiple adjacent items in the file list, and Ctrl key to select non-adjacent items. Please do not select files in system folders such as WindowsProgram FilesMSOCache (MS Office installation cache folder), etc.

Right-clicking allows many different actions: most useful are selecting highlighted files, and selecting all files of the selected type. Using the Open containing folder command helps you to move the large files to external drives. 

If you're planning to remove many files at once, you should first export their paths and names using the Save to text file command - this allows easier recovery in case you erase something important by accident.

After double-checking the files you plan to get rid of, choose Delete Selected Files from the right-click menu.
CCleaner, Tools tab, Disk Analyzer, results, right-click menu. After checking the files you want to remove, click 'Delete Selected Files'.

CCleaner's Disk Analyzer warns that you are about to delete the selected file(s): this really means delete, not something like moving to Recycle Bin for easy recovery.
Always check, double-check and triple-check that you're not removing anything important or something that you have no clue about, take a deep breath and click OK.
CCleaner, This process will delete the selected file(s) from your system, Are you sure you wish to proceed? Click OK.

Whoosh... you now have more available disk space. Cool

Finding and removing duplicate files with CCleaner

CCleaner has an option to detect and erase duplicate files, but please beware: this is a powerful tool, so use it with extreme care!

The feature can be accessed by clicking Tools tab and then opening Duplicate Finder (in CCleaner 4, it was called File Finder).
By default, most options are selected in the Match by and Ignore sections, and you should not change these unless you really know what you're doing. The Reset button allows reverting to defaults if you've messed the CCleaner's Duplicate Finder settings up real bad.

The Exclude tab can be used for defining drives and folders, or file types that will always be ignored during the search for identical items.

In the Include tab, all hard drives are selected by default. You can also search other drives if you need to, but in most cases just click Search.
CCleaner, Tools, Duplicate Finder. Click 'Search' to search for identical files.

The search for duplicates might take from several minutes to half an hour, depending on hard drive speeds and the amount of data to compare.
After the process has finished, a "File search has completed" message appears. Click OK.
CCleaner, Duplicate Finder, File search has completed. Click OK.

Go through the list and see which files or folders are safe to delete. Please remember: you do need to have some idea about what is necessary for programs to work properly.
Do not select files you have no idea about! Always leave duplicates in Program Files, Program Files (x86) and ProgramData folders unselected - these files are most probably required by Windows and/or installed programs.

You can choose the files to remove using check boxes. Additionally, you can right-click on an item, expand Select duplicates in and click a folder name to quickly tick all detected duplicates inside it.
Please do not use the root of drive (for example, C:\) here - deleting all these duplicates will most probably ruin your Windows installation and your day!
In the example below, AMD graphics adapter driver's cache folder is used, but you should probably leave it alone if you have one. This is just a screenshot. Wink
You could also use the Select All of Type item on the right-click menu to quickly select all duplicate JPG image files, for example.
CCleaner, Duplicate Finder, results. Use right-click menu for quickly selecting items.

Then you can also mark certain folders as excluded - this will prevent displaying duplicates in there. For example, if you have linked some folders with Junction or MKLink to get around the limitations of OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive), Dropbox or Google Drive, you must exclude the symbolic links to prevent deleting important files.

To exclude a folder, right-click on an item in it, expand Exclude menu and choose the path.
You can later manage exclusions easily in the Exclude tab of CCleaner Duplicate Finder.
CCleaner, Duplicate Finder, results. Use right-click menu for quickly excluding items.

Now comes the final warning - Duplicate Finder removes the selected files permanently, without moving them to Recycle Bin! You might want to download and install Recuva before erasing anything. Basic instructions for using the undelete/file and folder recovery program are available in this article.

Using the Save to text file button can later be helpful in finding out which items you removed (and possibly need to restore).
Please double-check (and triple-check) the list of selected items and only then click the Delete selected button on the bottom right.
CCleaner, Duplicate Finder, results. Click 'Delete Selected' to remove the identical items you selected.

The final warning appears, click OK after making sure you are not deleting the World Peace Project That Actually Works documents or Cure For Every Disease notes. Wink
CCleaner, Duplicate Finder, This will permanently delete selected files from your system. Click OK.

File removal probably takes just a few moments - it is always so much easier to mess things up than to restore order. After completion, a "The selected files have been successfully deleted" dialog appears. Click OK.

That's it! Smile To get even more good results, continue with cleaning up Registry.



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