PC cleaning apps are digital snake oil. The web is full of ads for applications that want to “clean your PC” and “make it feel like new.” Don’t pull out your credit card — these apps are terrible and you don’t need them.
If you do want to “clean your PC,” you can do it for free. Windows includes built-in PC cleaning tools that can do almost all of what the average PC cleaning app will do for you.
Let’s Investigate a PC Cleaning App
So what do these apps do, anyway? To investigate, we ran MyCleanPC — don’t try this at home; we installed this bad software so you don’t have to. MyCleanPC is one of the most prominent PC cleaning apps — it even advertises itself with television commercials.
First, let’s look at its Frequently Asked Questions to see what it promises:
“The full, paid version of the MyCleanPC software will attempt to remove issues found with your PC’s registry and hard drive, including removal of junk files, unneeded registry entries, Internet browsing traces, and fragmented portions of your hard drive.”
We’re already on thin ice here — Windows can remove junk files, clear Internet browsing traces, and defragment your hard drive without installing additional software.
MyCleanPC offers a “free diagnosis,” which is little more than an attempt to scare people into thinking their computers have thousands of “issues” that can be fixed for an easy $39.99 payment.
After running a scan, you’ll see an alarming count of the number of problems on your computer. It found 26267 issues on our computer.
That’s an extremely alarming number — but what exactly is an issue? [read more below]