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Who do you listen to about cleaning your PC, checking it for malware, and making it run all-around faster? Free utility SlimCleaner is powered in part by the cloud and community intelligence. This software from Slimware Utilities (makers of SlimComputer and SlimDrivers) includes a variety of modules that will clean your PC, uninstall software, help you decide whether to remove certain programs from running on startup, and more.

SlimCleaner's Cleaner module works much like the popular, free CCleaner. It looks at a wide variety of unnecessary files created by Windows, browsers, and applications, then deletes them, freeing up hard disk space, and protecting your privacy when you browse the Web. It's straightforward to use, and doesn't use the cloud or community intelligence.

The Optimize module is where the cloud-and-crowd aspect of SlimCleaner comes in. This module helps you decide what programs run on startup. Each program that runs on startup receives a community rating that is a compilation of others who have used it, so that you can decide whether any is necessary. The rankings run from Unnecessary to Good, and the ones I encountered appeared accurate.

In addition, each application is rated by SlimCleaner's "Cloud AV" (anti-virus) as being safe or not. If SlimCleaner recognizes a program that it has checked for viruses and is safe, it puts a Good next to it; it also rates those that may not be safe. SlimCleaner doesn't actually scan the file itself. Instead, it uses the cloud to run a handful of anti-virus scanners on it. If SlimCleaner hasn't yet checked the program for viruses, click Upload, and the file gets uploaded, the anti-virus software is run on it in the cloud, and you see results.

The Uninstaller module similarly uses community ratings;- it ranks each piece of software from unwanted to Good. When you uninstall software, though, the Windows uninstaller launches; SlimCleaner is essentially a front-end to the Windows uninstaller.

SlimCleaner's Windows Tools section is useful, although not earth-shaking. It's basically a simple-to-use front end to many of Windows' management tools, such as for system information, registry editing, security, and more. So, for example, click Registry Editor, and the built-in Windows Registry Editor launches, not a Registry cleaner. The same holds true with other icons; click User Accounts to get to Windows' normal User Accounts management screen. Still, it's a well-organized way to see all of Windows' system tools in a single location.

Anyone who wants to keep their PC in tip-top shape could benefit from SlimCleaner. It offers some tools that CCleaner doesn't, such as removing programs that run on startup, but it also doesn't include a Registry Cleaner, which CCleaner does. As for helping with startup, it's not quite as sophisticated as fellow freebie Soluto, because it won't let you have programs delay launch on startup, rather than banning them altogether. So mix and match among the three tools--I encountered no problems running them simultaneously--until you get the right balance for your system. You can't go wrong with these free programs.

--Preston Gralla

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