Are pc cleaning apps a scam?

PC cleaning apps are a scam: here's why (and how to speed up your PC)

PC cleaning apps are digital snake oil. The web is full of ads for applications that want to "clean up" your PC and keep it looking new. Don't pull out your credit card - these apps are terrible and not needed.

If you want to "clean up" your PC, you can do so for free. Windows includes built-in PC cleaning tools that allow you to use almost all of the features of the average PC cleaning app.

Let's examine a PC cleaning app

What do these apps do anyway? We ran MyCleanPC to investigate. Do not try this at home. We installed this bad software so you wouldn't have to. MyCleanPC is one of the most famous PC cleaning apps - it even advertises TV ads.

First, let's take a look at the FAQs to see what they promise:

“The paid, full version of MyCleanPC software will attempt to eliminate problems with your PC's registry and hard drive, including removal of junk files, unnecessary registry entries, traces of Internet surfing, and fragmented parts of your hard drive. "

We're already on hold here - Windows can remove junk files, clean up internet browser traces, and defragment your hard drive without installing any additional software.

MyCleanPC offers "free diagnostics" that is little more than an attempt to scare people into believing that their computers have thousands of "problems" that can be fixed for a simple payment of $ 39.99.

After running a scan, an alert will appear on the number of problems on your computer. 26267 problems have been found on our computer. That's an extremely alarming number - but what is it exactly?

  • Each browser cookie and history entry counts as a single problem.
  • Each temporary file counts as a single problem, no matter how small it is.
  • Invalid registry entries are considered a problem even though they shouldn't actually be slowing down your computer.
  • Our registry can be compressed a little, but it shouldn't have a noticeable impact on performance
  • Each fragmented file counts as a single problem. MyCleanPC measures fragmentation based on the number of files fragmented, resulting in a scary looking data fragmentation statistic of 21.33%. For comparison, the Windows Defragmenter indicates that there is 2% fragmentation.

Now that they've scared you, take out your credit card and give them $ 39.99 to clean your PC.

Don't believe the hype

Temporary files do not slow down your computer, and neither browser history entries nor cookies. Registry entries are usually not a problem. There is a reason Microsoft created its own registry cleaner before it was discontinued.

Yes, your computer may be slow because its file system is fragmented. You can fix this by running the defragmentation tool included with Windows. The defragmentation is carried out automatically according to a schedule anyway. Most people shouldn't have to worry about defragmenting their hard drives anymore.

Here's how to actually clean your PC

Suppose you want to clean your PC like a PC cleaner. Here's what you can do:

  • Run the disk cleanup tool included with Windows. It focuses on freeing up space on your hard drive, but it also deletes old temporary files and other useless things. Just tap the Windows key, type Disk Cleanup and hit Enter to launch it. You can even schedule a Disk Cleanup to automatically clean up your computer.
  • Delete the history of your browser or - even better - set your browser so that the history is automatically deleted when you close if you do not want to save a history.
  • Run the defragmentation utility included with Windows. You do not need to do this if you are using a solid-state drive.
  • Don't bother with a registry cleaner. If you have to, use the free CCleaner which has the best-tested registry cleaner out there. It also deletes temporary files for other programs - CCleaner alone does a lot more than these PC cleaning apps.

A test conducted by Windows Secrets in 2011 found that the disk cleanup tool included with Windows is just as good as paid PC cleaning apps. Note that although PC cleaning apps fix “registry errors”, the Disk Cleanup app doesn't. This shows how unnecessary registry cleaners are.

So yes, it has been tested - PC cleaning apps are worthless.

Speed ​​up your computer

The best tools to speed up your computer are things a pc cleaning app won't do for you:

  • Uninstall software that you no longer use, especially programs that run at startup and browser plug-ins.
  • Turn off unnecessary startup apps to improve Windows startup time.

If you regularly see errors on your computer:

  • Run an antivirus and anti-malware program to scan your computer for malware error messages.
  • Google error messages that pop up regularly to find fixes for them.

Don't forget the nuclear option:

  • Reinstall Windows to start over. If you're using Windows 8, use the Update Your PC feature.
  • Check for hardware problems if you continue to experience blue screens or other PC problems after reinstalling Windows.


In the worst case scenario, PC cleaning apps are digital snake oil. At best, they do some slightly useful tasks that you can do with the tools that come with Windows. Don't believe the hype - skip the pc cleaning apps.