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SlimCleaner: a PC maintenance suite which actually delivers?

10 June 2011, Mike Williams

The Windows world is packed with PC cleanup tools, most of which look exactly the same. They might try to clean your Registry, list your startup programs, maybe delete the contents of your temporary folders, but this rarely makes much difference to your PC’s performance.

There a few products which take a different approach, though. And the free SlimCleaner is one of the most interesting.

The authors recognise that their tools need to compete head-on with the best of the freeware competition, for instance. So their core Cleaner module doesn’t just delete your Windows temporary folder and Internet Explorer cache; it also wipes a lengthy list of Windows histories and leftover application files, and provides support for cleaning up after IE, Firefox, Chrome and Opera.

This delivered great results in our tests, too, with the program recovering marginally more drive space than CCleaner. That’s impressive, especially considering that SlimCleaner is only just out of beta and will only improve (although if you install CCEnhancer than CCleaner remains the more effective cleanup tool, for now at least).

SlimCleaner’s Hijack Log is another strong point, listing everything configured to launch when your PC starts. And we do mean “everything”: startup programs, shell extensions, Browser Helper Objects, LSP’s, codecs, drivers, services and more (though you need to choose the “Expert” option to see the full list). This goes far beyond the usual brief list you’ll find in many maintenance suites, and is closer in scope to Sysinternals excellent AutoRuns tool. In some ways, it’s a little better, as – after a little configuration – you’re able to use a right-click option to check any selected file at VirusTotal.

Perhaps the most interesting SlimCleaner feature, though, is its crowd-sourced ratings scheme. Users are able to score startup programs, toolbars, drivers, all their installed packages for usefulness, and once the data has been cleaned up then it becomes available to everyone else.

So when we checked the list of startup programs on our test PC, say, we could see at a glance that iTunesHelper and QuickTime Task were both rated as “optional”. More information on any highlighted process is available at a click; you can remove anything you don’t need at a click; and it’s just as easy to optimise your Windows services.

This system doesn’t always help: we found that many items were currently marked as “unrated”, particularly when examining the lower-level areas of your PC (shell extensions, say). But then SlimCleaner is very new, that will change over time, and if you’d like to help out then it only takes a moment. In a few clicks you can rate a program or two, and other SlimCleaner users will soon benefit from your knowledge and experience.

This isn’t a conventional maintenance suite, then. There’s no Registry cleaner, no list of dubious tweaks, no defrag tool that’s actually worse than Windows’ own.

But that’s fine, because instead SlimCleaner focuses on the areas that really deliver, with an excellent hard drive cleaner, and a strong set of tools for displaying the software you’ve installed, and highlighting any components which you may be able to do without. You still need to make the final solution as to what stays, and what goes – there are no unrealistic “one-click” promises here – but the extensive help on offer means SlimCleaner is a good cleanup suite for both PC novices and experts alike.

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