Free File, Clean-Up Tools

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by PCWorld's Editors

Top Deals On Great Products

Picked by Techconnect's Editors

I use CCleaner and I strongly recommend you do, too. That's because the free utility scrubs your system and removes computer-clogging junk, including files in the temp folder and Internet cache.

What makes CCleaner so cool is that you can customize it so the tool deletes specific files and folders every time it runs. For instance, I have a junk folder that I use for files I need for the day, but want cleared out when I run CCleaner.

Customizing is easy. Choose the Options icon on the left, click Include, and add a file or folder using the buttons on the right. Another handy trick is in Settings: Add a "run CCleaner" context menu to your Recycle Bin icon. That way you don't even have to open CCleaner; just right-click the Recycle Bin icon and choose "run CCleaner."

But you have to be a careful with the tool. A couple of my e-mail buddies wrote with advice.

My friend Michael M. from Texas said: "After CCleaner appeared in a print column recently, I gave it a try. In the process, I lost some valuable toolbar buttons in Word that I've never been able to recover. I've tried everything I can think of to recover the lost customizations without success."

You can stop CCleaner from touching any Office apps by unchecking the Office box (click the thumbnail to see a screen capture).

Bill Webb advised "not to set the default deletion method (under Options, Settings) to 'Secure file deletion'--unless you've carefully thought it through. Sooner or later you'll run CCleaner and then have one of those 'Ah s**t' moments, whereupon you'll try to use all that cool data recovery software to no avail. It will happen eventually. That setting should only be used to delete specific cleaning jobs on specific classes of files, then returned to its normal setting. Trust me on this."

Finally, Dale told me about something I would've (no, make that should've) known about if I read CCleaner's Help file. It's the winapp2.ini file that lets you further customize the program.

Dale also urges you to use CCleaner's built-in CYA feature to "make a backup of all the Registry entries that it deletes just in case."

Dig This: Have you heard of the T-52 Enryu, a giant robot controlled by Microsoft software? I just hope it isn't using Vista. [Thanks, Kim.]

Dig This, Too: Quick, where's the green light on a standard traffic light--the top or the bottom? And the Statue of Liberty holds the torch in which hand? I thought so... Try the other questions in at the Power of Observation page. [Thanks, Tom L.]

Use Free TotalCopy to Move and Copy Files

It's been years since I used the file Copy or Move tools built into Windows. You know what I'm talking about: It's when you're in Windows Explorer and use drag-and-drop to copy files from one folder to another. You may even use a right-drag-and-drop to move the file. (All that's happening, BTW, is that Windows first copies the file to the new location and deletes it from the old spot.)

The problem, among other things, is once you get started, you can't pause the copying or moving.

One program I've used is Total Copy. The tool lets you copy or move numerous files faster than Windows can and lets you pause--and later resume--the action. And unlike Windows, Total Copy doesn't stop cold if it can't copy a locked file. Total Copy automatically appears when you click your right mouse button while highlighting a bunch of files in Windows Explorer.

Total Copy was written eons ago and hasn't been updated since 2005. It still works, but if I try run more than one copy of the program, it occasionally crashes; I haven't been able to track down the exact problem--and probably won't because it's too time consuming. If you're just copying a handful of files, Total Copy's fine.

Dig This: I used to fold a dollar bill so it looked like a rabbit in a top hat. That was nothing compared to the hundreds of stunning origami samples on the Robert J. Lang site. [Thanks, Bill W.]

Two More Free Tools for File Copying (and Moving)

Two weeks ago I started playing with TeraCopy. For those of you who copy and move lots of files, this puppy is the one you want to use.

TeraCopy does what you'd expect--it lets you pause and resume copying. It also verifies the copy and retries if there's an error. If you're curious, TeraCopy will retest each file copy. According to my unscientific tests, copying files seems faster with TeraCopy than using Windows Explorer.

TeraCopy is free for home users; right now the Pro version doesn't have enough features to justify the $20 cost. For instance, the Pro has a context menu in the file list allowing more control over the copy queue list. The author promised lots more features to come for the Pro version. You can also try TeraCopy Pro Beta, the one I'm using. It works fine.

Another Option: Supercopier

While you're evaluating file utilities, you might as well take a look at Supercopier. In addition to a right-click menu addition, you can drag and drop files you want to copy (or move) right onto the program. Supercopier has two features the other copy utilities are missing: The ability to save the file list in order to copy the same files again, and a setting to set a specific folder as the location to use every time you copy or move files.

Dig This: Check out Frozen Grand Central--and I don't mean it's cold in New York.

Dig This, Too: You think you don't like ventriloquists? Watch Terry Fator on America's Got Talent.

Steve Bass writes PC World's monthly "Hassle-Free PC" column and is the author of "PC Annoyances, 2nd Edition: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Personal Computer," available from O'Reilly. He also writes PC World's daily Tips & Tweaks blog. Sign up to have Steve's newsletter e-mailed to you each week. Comments or questions? Send Steve e-mail.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon