product reviews

I reviewed several utilities for our club and wanted to find out if they could all be installed on my computer at the same time without causing any problems. Sometimes programs will “step on” each other and not work.  This was true of Malware Bytes and SlimCleaner.  I also wanted to find out if they were worth the price. 

The following utilities played well together: In other words I had them all installed concurrently.  

Malware Bytes:  Free version suggested by the club and by Computer Medics.  Read my review

AdwareCleaner:  from Malwarebytes also free.  Review available soon. 

**SlimCleaner**:   Free version used by some folks here in Jamaica Bay.  Utility has issues Read my review

System Mechanic:   Paid version.  Suggested in one of our club meetings.    The free version only lists all the problems your computer has.  Read my review.

CCleaner:  The website claims  "CCleaner is the number-one tool for cleaning your PC.
It protects your privacy and makes your computer faster and more secure!"   Read my review

Duplicate File Finder:   I have finally gotten control of all the pictures on my computer!  Read my Review

Search Everything:  Everyone needs this free utility!  Read my review

Do you have other cleaning utilities you like or suggest for a review?   Drop us a line at our club email:  jamaicabaycomputerclub@gmail.com 

   CCleaner Review

CCleaner is a utility program that claims to clean & speed up your PC.  It is owned by a foreign company in the Czech Republic. This is the same company that owns Avast – a popular antivirus program. It identifies several items to be fixed on your computer that agree with standard Windows utilities.  A result I like very much.

Here are the steps I took to evaluate CCleaner followed by my recommendation.   (skip the details and take me to the Summary/recommendations)

A paid version is available and works much like a paid version of Malware Bytes.   You get support.  I did not evaluate this.

The utility identifies several items to be fixed on your computer that agree with standard Windows utilities.  A result I like very much.  What were my other expectations?   How difficult would it be to install and use?  How could I tell if the utility did anything? Most importantly did I think I got my monies worth?

1.  When installing, be sure to uncheck the option or AVAST will be installed at the same time!   

2.  CCleaner will set itself up to automatically “clean” your computer.  I did not like this! 

3.  It ran very fast and the immediate results were it found 1438 “trackers” & 1436 megabytes  of “junk” files.  What are trackers?  Read about them: https://edu.gcfglobal.org/en/internetsafety/understanding-browser-tracking/1/

4.  Read my suggestions for how to remove trackers without buying this software! 

5.  A second and not so obvious function scans the Windows Registry for errors.  You have to click the icon to see these errors and there were several pages.  I understood almost NONE of them.  Before allowing ANY changes to the Registry you are given the option to back it up.  Make sure you do this!

6.  I ‘cleaned’ the junk & the ‘trackers’ but not the Registry.

7.  Next I manually uninstalled 7 windows programs (mostly games and old programs I did not use).  Why did I do this?  I wanted to get my computer "as clean as possible" and removing programs from Win 10 is something I know how to do and it's freeAfter removing programs I suggest rebooting Win 10.

8.  Next I ran CCleaner again but took no action.  I ran the Windows tool  ‘Disk Cleanup’.  Both programs agreed there was 20MB of space that could be cleaned & returned to the pool of free space. 

9.  I cleaned the space using Disk Cleaner and not CCleaner.  Why?  It's something I know how to do and it's free.

10.  Up to this point I had now cleaned a lot of junk from my computer so I decided to run “De-fragment & Optimize Drives”, another free utility from MS normally scheduled weekly by your computer.  You should not need to run it manually.  **NOTE** Several of the utilities listed in the review will suggest running a ‘defrag’.  I recommend you do not use any utility program to defrag your hard drive but the one from Microsoft.

11.  I reran CCleaner.  It said I still had 18MB of temporary files!   

12.  I allowed CCleaner to fix all the issues listed, including the registry.

13.  When finished, I still had 2 pages of registry errors!

IN SUMMARY: 

No matter how hard I tried, I could NEVER get CCleaner to report 0 (zero) errors!  My computer did not ‘feel’ like it was starting up or running faster or running any better.  It still takes 2 minutes to power on and be ready for use.  It takes 4 minutes if I just ‘reboot’. 

In this review, I have explained how to remove trackers, temporary files, and reorganize your hard drive, all using free MS utilities.  I also saw no changes from cleaning the MS Registry. Removing more temporary files would be "cleaning" your internet browser.  

The big consideration for me was that it has not caused any problems on my computer.  Has it really done anything to justify the $25 yearly cost?  I did not think so. 

If you are unable to follow any of the free suggestions in this article perhaps you might want to try this software out (the free version) if your computer is running poorly.  For a short period of time the “pro” version is on sale.  Go here:  https://www.ccleaner.com/ 

Be prepared to re-enter all your website passwords if you clean everything.

Before doing anything, I suggest reading my article on System Mechanic first. 

 
 
 

  SLIMCLEANER REVIEW

Lets get right to the heart of the matter:

 

The Long Review:    (or skip the long review and go right to the conclusions)

This utility is owned by Slimware.  A free version is used by some folks here in Jamaica Bay.  A full version costs about $20 a year to run.  They also sell an antivirus program that I did not test.

I ran this several times on my HP Win10 laptop without actually “cleaning” anything.  After the first run I installed Malware Bytes and CCleaner (Both highly recommended), and ran those as well but I did NOT make any changes to my computer.  I wanted to see how the programs compared in functionality. 

‘Slim’ results run #1:

There were 2,067 items found totaling 284 MB of wasted space.  234 registry errors.  47 privacy issues existed along with 91 junk files.  No PuPs (potentially unwanted programs) or security errors were found.  4 Potentially unwanted startups were found.  These can slow down system boot up or system reboot.   

Next I decided to actually clean my computer using CCleaner (although I did NOT clean the registry). I did not trust SlimCleaner at this point.  It ‘cleaned’ 1438MB of junk.

After CCleaner finished, I reran SlimCleaner.

‘Slim’ results run #2:

Fewer errors found the second time – as you would expect.  363 items totaling 32.34 MB of wasted space. 

BUT the number of registry errors were more!  (251 vs 234) and now there were 4 Pups instead of Zero. It said there were 24 “unneeded system logs”.  In the PRIVACY section, it identified 25 anti-malware entries, something I had not noticed before. 

I stopped with all my cleaning activities and using Windows Add/Remove, I uninstalled 7 programs I knew were not needed or used on my computer (mostly games). I rebooted the computer.

 I reran SlimCleaner for a 3rd time.

‘Slim’ results run #3:  Note: The only activity on the computer had been to uninstall 7 programs!

The Windows Registry now had 377 errors!  There were more anti-malware entries (28 vs 25) more installer errors (26 vs 3) more useless thumbnails (16 vs 1) and more sys logs than the previous run (35 vs 24) and more total  Privacy errors (49 vs 29).   

Something didn’t seem right here.  My “bad numbers” went up! 

To double check:   I ran CCleaner.  It told me I had 20MB of ‘temp files’ – down from 1438. 

To triple check:  I ran Windows  Admin tools – ‘disk cleanup’.

It said space used by:

Temp Internet  -  2.79mb

Err Reporting    -  413kb

Directx               -  66.8kb

Delvry OPT       -  11.6mb

One Dr files      -  1000bytes

Temp                 -  721kb

Thumbnails      -  5mb

TOTAL               20.1mb  (the same as CCleaner)

I then had Windows disk cleanup delete all these files!

I ran the Windows ‘defrag’ program.  It runs automatically so normally this is not necessary.  But in this case I wanted everything in ‘good’ shape.  It took about 30 minutes. I use these two windows utilities most often use, in addition to emptying the Recycle Bin now and then.

Now I am ready to run Slim for a 4th time.

‘Slim’ results run #4: 

It showed Wasted space:  34.78mb .  This makes no sense to me.  Even after all the cleaning, SlimCleaner thinks there is more wasted space than the second time it ran (32.34mb).  (remember I am not doing anything on my computer except cleanup!)

Items found: 404 (last time 416) Pups: 4 (same as last time). 

The registry previously told me there were 377 errors and  now there are 263.  Privacy problems were now 36 (last time 49).  There was MORE junk in the system (43 vs 38).

Conclusions 

SlimCleaner is NOT a utility for me.  I ran MalwareBytes and it found 6 PUPs, one of them being SlimCleaner.  I do not recommend using SlimCleaner.  There are better & cheaper utilities for ‘cleaning’ your computer.  After installation, the program started displaying annoying ‘pop ups’.  It also identifies Windows Registry Errors that most if not all other competing programs ignore, leading me to believe they are just trying to get you to buy the “Pro” version

If you want to try this for yourself, I do not recommend running it with any programs from my other reviews,  especially Malware Bytes.  

Lastly, Malwarebytes quarantined SlimCleaner as it believes it to be a PUP - a “potentially unwanted program” and removed it from my computer.  A situation I was completely satisfied with.  

 
 

System Mechanic Reviewed July 2019

One of our members purchased Mechanic several months ago after hearing about it in one of our meetings. At the bottom of this article you'll find some suggestions on how to maintain your own computer with buying anything.  

For my review, I have installed & run the paid version on 5 of my laptops.  The free version is limited in what it can do.   I did not experience any problems as a result of ‘cleaning’ the PCs. 

The Mechanic is highly rated by several well respected internet sources.

 

Click here for the long review 

Click here for the short review

First read the *** Summary ***

This summary is limited to my experiences running Mechanic on 2 laptops:   A 3 year old HP and a 7 year old HP.   

 First you should know I never use 3rd party “cleaning utilities”.   I maintain all my computers using the free tools supplied by Microsoft with one exception. 

They are:

  1.  Disk Cleanup App 

  2.  Defragment and Optimize Drives

  3.  Windows Defender

  4.  Task Manager App

  5.  Windows Memory Diagnostic

  6.  Recycle Bin

 

 I also use the options provided with Google Chrome and MS Edge to manage temporary internet cache files.   To see the meeting presentations on how to control Google Chrome go to the website “Welcome Page” and in the Yellow Windows Folder review 2 files or  Click here for a fast link to these documents.

The only 3rd party software I pay for is MalWareBytes.   They have discovered Trojans on my computer and sometimes employ the use of  AdwareCleaner.     

  

Bottom line- the long review:

My expectations were that when I finished my computers would run better.  There are no scientific ways I can use to measure computer performance.   That is not the intent of my review and something I am not capable of anyway.  

Before doing anything to my Core I7 computer I tested the reboot time.  It took 4 minutes and 40 seconds to restart Win 10.  That seems slow to me. 

The time it took to power on the computer and be ready for use took an average of 3 minutes.  Again, seems slow. 

I used MalwareBytes and scanned my computer.  It made no changes but told me there were 364,133 items [files] on my core I7 computer.  The program took about 8 minutes to run.

After fixing everything that could be fixed, reboot time was only 10 seconds faster.   A power on boot of the computer took 3 minutes.  No improvement at all.  Now there were 360,183 items [files] on my core I7 computer.  The program took about 8 minutes to run.  A reduction of 3,950 items!

 

Before I started on the Core I5, reboot time was 3+ minutes and a power on boot was about 1 ½ minutes.  After ‘fixing’ everything the Mechanic could fix, there was no change to boot time of 1 ½ minutes.  It now takes about 2 ½ minutes to reboot – and improvement of about 30 seconds. 

I expected the computer to run better.  It did not.  

 

Bottom line short review:

Mechanic identified and fixed over 10,000 “issues” on both of my computers.  1500 of these were listed as Windows Registry issues.   It sounds like a lot but my computers did not seem to run any better or faster.

Learn a few simple maintenance tasks using free tools from Microsoft you can accomplish similar results to what Mechanic says it fixes.

If you still want to take a shortcut to cleaning your computer, Mechanic will not harm your system.  However your money is better spent elsewhere.

 

 

The final Word: 

Perhaps you have problems with your computer I did not cover in this review? 

Read on for more information.   If you think you have:

  1.  A virus.  Use MalWareBytes & Adware Cleaner in addition to your virus protection software to identify, remove or reduce “pop ups” and “trojans” before trying any “cleaning” utilities.  See my review elsewhere on the website about Malware Bytes.

  2.  If you think your computer is slower than mine,  with a desktop full of icons and you run all your programs from there,  then you should realize that a boot startup takes much longer.  One thing that might help is if you go to Windows System settings and choose “add or remove programs” and un-install games & programs you no longer use, startup times should improve.   Reducing the number of icons on your desktop may also help.   If you do not recognize the name of a program do a quick google search for more information.  I would avoid uninstalling Microsoft Corporation programs UNLESS they are:

  • Silverlight

  • Xbox

  • People

  • Money

  • News

  • Sports

  • Quicktime

  • Shockwave Player

 

Lastly remove all toolbars and junk browser extensions like the Bing Bar, Google Toolbar, Ask Toolbar, Yahoo! Toolbar, or the Babylon Toolbar.

If when you run the actual programs does it seem slow?  This is very subjective.  Your & my idea of ‘slow’ could be quite different.  Think about what your expectations would be if you bought System Mechanic. 

 It did not meet my expectations. 

 
 
 
The Computer Club has been recommending this utility for quite some time now.  I've said elsewhere on this website I have 5 laptops and have installed the free version on 2 of them and 3 others I pay for the "active" protection.  The active version provides better 'protection' because I use these computers on the internet frequently.  Both the free and paid versions have detected several "intrusions".  Some of the intrusions have been malware and others are trojans (which can be very serious).  
In this review I do not go into detail about the specifics of trojans, PUPs, malware & unwanted advertising.  However by following the links highlighted in blue you can read about them.  

Click here for the long review   (available soon)

Click here for the short review   (available soon)

Read the *** Summary ***

This summary touches only on the briefest of the benefits of MalwareBytes.  The computer club recommends this software.  The free version is well, free.  The paid premium version is $40 for 1 year.  The paid version, $60 for 3 computers and 1 year.  I chose the 2 year option: 3 computers cost $87.49.  There are several examples on this website that demonstrate the value of their paid version.  

I suggest contacting the club website if you are considering the purchase of MalwareBytes.  If you pay for antivirus software such as Norton,  McAfee or Webroot then the 'free' version will probably give you you pretty good protection.   I use Microsoft Windows Defender (free antivirus software in Win 10).  I like the pro-active defense and additional protection provided by MalwareBytes. 

The snapshot below shows a free, running version.  Note the real time protection that is not available.  This real time protection has identified and stopped intrusions when I was browsing the internet.  

As you can see from the scan status I am still protected as over time MalwareBytes has discovered 246 'detections' which are possible threats.

Some examples of threats and their danger:  (click each for an explanation)

1.  Adware.Graftor  Explain what this is

2.  Blocked websites such as oss-content.securestudies.com/cidpost.  Explain what this is

3.  Adware.pokki found and prevented in real time.  Explain what this is

Duplicate File Finder Reviewed October 2019

This utility is owned by Ashisoft.  Their website says "It can easily locate duplicate files on your hard drives, so that you can delete them, in order to free up value-able disk space". 

 

  I have used a free version for several years.  It has been reliable under several releases of Windows 10 and 2 different laptops.  The free version gives complete information about duplicates and where to find them.  Separately I then use windows 'file explorer' and check the files that have been identified.  Up until the summer of 2019 I removed dups manually.   

 

In my evaluation I have found this utility works for duplicate photos as well as for documents even though a utility specifically for photos is also offered and they have 4 other utilities you can review on their website (www.ashisoft.com).    

The utility also searches for empty files and folders.  I didn't find this function that useful but still, eye opening as I saw a lot of "junk".  

 

 

 

My computer had 2 hard drives (C & D).  The D drive is where I store all my pictures & documents.  The C drive contains operating software and programs I have installed.  One very useful feature is the ability to tell the utility where to look on the computer.  This eliminates many dups that Windows 10 software has - yes Windows 10 has duplicate files.  

In the summer of 2019 I had to recover my entire computer from a crash.  I restored from my backup.  What I unexpectedly got were thousands of restored files that were duplicates.  The reason for this is beyond the scope of this article.  I upgraded to the pro version for about $30.  Now I can delete obvious duplicates right from the program without using file explorer.  A huge time saver.

One word of caution, if you decide to try out Duplicate File finder, just be aware that the software does not distinguish between program files and your duplicate data.  In other words I suggest you *do not* simply delete every dup identified.  

 

The Final Word:  If you need or want to get a better handle on your photos, where they ar located, how much space they take up and how many duplicates exist, I recommend giving this product a try.

Are you finding these reviews useful?  Would you like to see more?  Send us and e-mail and tell us what you think.   jamaicabaycomputerclub.com