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Is CCleaner Safe?

Hackers have blemished the reputation of this popular Microsoft Windows optimizer. So, is CCleaner safe to use in 2021? Read this CCleaner review and find out whether you should trust it again!

Is CCleaner Safe?

minimum price:

Free

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  • Free Trial: Yes, 14 days
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Free Version: Available
  • File Shredding: Unsupported
  • Software Updater: Supported
  • Junk File Monitoring: Supported
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days
  • Customer Support: Email, knowledge base, FAQ, and forum

works on:

Android Android
Windows Windows
Mac OS Mac OS

Best For

Windows optimization

STRENGTHS

  • Free licenses
  • New features
  • Simple functionality
  • Free trials on select products

WEAKNESSES

  • No iOS edition
  • Price discrimination
  • Inconsistent content

PRICING PLANS:

CCleaner Free

$0.00

CCleaner Professional

$24.95/year

Annual CCleaner Professional Plus

$34.95/year

CCleaner for Mac Professional

$24.95/year

CCleaner for Android Professional

From $1.39

What Is CCleaner?

CCleaner is a piece of scrubbing software originally developed by Piriform. It has been around since 2004, garnering countless glowing CCleaner reviews for the most part of its history.

It started out as an optimization tool for PCs. But its developers rolled out iterations for macOS and Android in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

All in all, CCleaner has been downloaded more than two billion times and records more than five million desktop installs every seven days.

In 2017, global cybersecurity leader Avast acquired Piriform. It was a watershed year for negative reasons. It was the time when the first infamous cyber assault on CCleaner made headlines.

To make it worse, CCleaner got hacked again in 2019.

So, is CCleaner safe? Is CCleaner Pro worth it in 2021? I’ll attempt to answer these questions as objectively as possible in this piece.

CCleaner has different apps and subscriptions for individual and business users. But the enterprise editions of this program are outside the scope of this CCleaner review. So, I focused on what it can do for personal use.

Nevertheless, I’ll touch on the plans and prices designed for:

  • Independent break-fix companies.
  • Small, mid-sized, and large businesses.
  • Managed service providers.

Also, I won’t go into deep dives on the CCleaner Browser. Compatible with Windows 10, 8.1, 8, and 7, this standalone app deserves its own review. 

Certainly, its feature set can put the privacy and security of common web browsers to shame. 

So, here’s what to expect from CCleaner Browser:

  • Adblock
  • Anti-Tracking
  • Anti-Fingerprinting
  • Anti-Phishing
  • Stealth Mode
  • Password Managers
  • Webcam Guard
  • Extension Guard
  • Privacy Cleaner

CCleaner Feature

Here’s the lowdown on CCleaner’s capabilities.

Health Check

This is a fairly new freemium feature for CCleaner for Windows 10, 8.1, and 7. In short – it’s a scanner that looks for ways to optimize your PC’s performance.

After a quick evaluation, it would suggest what to remove, what to disable, and what to update. It also provides improvement proposals in the areas of Privacy, Space, Speed, and Security.

If you use a free license, you can carry out only the recommended fixes for the first two categories.

Custom Clean

This free cleaner enables you to manually delete junk by app. You can get rid of internet cache, browsing history, temporary files, and more.

Custom Clean can also be a good CCleaner Intelligent Cookie Scan alternative when you don’t need to delete cookies en masse.

Registry Cleaner

CCleaner can find and erase old, invalid, and corrupted entries in your Windows Registry. Detrimental entries could trigger error messages and slow down your computer.

The CCleaner Registry Cleaner does serve a logical purpose. But it may do your hardware more harm than help.

In general, Microsoft warns against registry cleaning utilities. For incorrect registry maintenance can render Windows unstable.

Startup and Browser Plugins Manager

Using CCleaner, you can select which programs should run as your PC loads. You can also do the same for the plugins for your web browsers.

Disk Analyzer

This scanner reveals which files are consuming your hard drives’ space. So, it can give insight into what may be impacting your computer’s performance.

Duplicate Finder

This tool can comb through your folders and drives in search for duplicate files that you can delete.

Available in CCleaner for PC and Mac, Duplicate Finder lets you match files by name, size, modified date, and content. You can also tell it to ignore some files.

Large File Finder

This tool is available in the CCleaner app for macOS. It can identify oversized files that have been weighing down your system. With its search filter, you can also set a minimum size requirement.

System Restore Manager

With this tool, you can delete scheduled checkpoints, except for the latest one for system safety.

Drive Wiper

Using this CCleaner for Windows 10 feature, you can manually wipe the deleted files from your drives’ free area. This way, they’ll become irrecoverable.

Drive Wiper it can overwrite data on different levels to meet varying security needs without compromising your normal files. It can also erase 100% of the data in a partition.

But due to Microsoft’s data storage practices, this tool can’t wipe all files.

Uninstaller

This feature isn’t meant for program uninstallation only. This uninstaller can also give you the option to repair, rename, and/or delete some apps.

Deep Clean

Upgrading any free CCleaner app to its Pro edition unlocks the software’s deep cleaning capability. So, as a premium user, you’ll be able to find and delete junk files throughout the system.

Scheduled Cleaning

If you have a paid license, you’ll be able to run CCleaner on a schedule. This helps ensure that unwanted files never accumulate on your device.

Smart Cleaning

This freemium monitoring tool keeps a lookout for junk files and notifies you where to find them. Smart Cleaning follows the same rules Custom Clean does.

If you buy a subscription for CCleaner for PC or Mac, all of its settings will be configurable. Then, you’ll be able to adjust the file size parameter.

Also, the paid edition gives you access to Automatic Browser Cleaning too. It can clear the history of one or more of your web browsers after closing them automatically with or without notification. In addition, you can set CCleaner to prompt you to clean your browser(s) or launch the app on closing instead.

Driver Updater

It’s the latest premium feature in the CCleaner Windows 10 edition. It keeps your computer’s drivers updated so that all of the third-party devices connected to your machine can work properly.

Software Updater

It’s another feature that can settle the CCleaner Free vs Pro debate. It scours for outdated programs in your system. Bringing them to life allows you to update them accordingly.

Timely updates should enhance your computer’s performance and help patch up any security vulnerabilities it may have.

App Hibernation

A premium feature in the Android edition – it keeps programs from running in the background. And they remain disabled until you manually activate them.

In short, App Hibernation helps conserve your mobile device’s battery and eliminate unnecessary data usage.

Task Killer

Otherwise known as RAM Booster, it can quickly stop running tasks and clean some memory.

Advanced Photo Optimizer

Having a CCleaner Pro for Android license makes it easy to identify and delete similar, old, and/or low-quality photos. CCleaner can get rid of images from your private chats

With low, moderate, high, and aggressive file compression options at your disposal, you can optimize file sizes at will. You can save the original copies on the cloud.

Pro Battery Life

With the Android app, you can set profiles on CCleaner to automatically adjust your device’s battery usage. It can optimize the performance of your smartphone or tablet at home, at work, or in the car.

Priority Support

CCleaner’s customer support team attends to the concerns of premium subscribers before those of free license holders.

It’s only fair that paying customers enjoy the VIP treatment. But you can still get some assistance via email without buying a CCleaner for PC, Mac, or Android subscription.

The response time will vary by ticket volume, though. In my experience, the fastest reply I received from CCleaner before using Pro was about 12 hours.

License Lookup

If you lose your license key for whatever reason, CCleaner will email it to you. It provides a handy tool on its site where you can easily make a request.

Ease of Use and Interface

For the most part, CCleaner was a pleasure to use. It doesn’t have the sleekest design, but its user interface is efficient and consistent.

I checked the premium and non-premium versions of the software to compare the aesthetics of CCleaner Free vs Pro. So, I can attest that the look of Windows and macOS apps are rather identical.

The Android iteration was a bit different since it’s for mobile devices. Easily, it’s the most modern among the CCleaner apps.

You can get a feel of CCleaner’s full functionality even though you only download the free app. It also displays the premium features, but it grays them out and labels them as PRO.

CCleaner products have links to helpful resources. The problem is its site’s inconsistent information. The prices it advertises are dissimilar to the ones it charges during checkout. I’ll expound on this shortly.

The software had moments of sluggishness. But its occasional performance issues weren’t bad enough to paralyze my device.

Overall, CCleaner is a workable app.

Is CCleaner Safe?

CCleaner has been hacked twice since Avast acquired it in mid-2017. After these infamous incidents, the solid reputation it built throughout its first 13 years quickly went down the drain.

Microsoft flagged registry cleaning utilities like the CCleaner Registry Cleaner as a potentially unwanted application. Coincidentally, the warning came after it fell from glory.

Naturally, many people have been avoiding it like the plague since then. The so-called CCleaner malware was capable of gathering sensitive data, like IP (Internet Protocol) addresses. The stolen data would end up in a third-party server in the United States.

According to reports, Its goal was to spy on select tech companies. Axiom (the alleged Chinese hacking group behind it) was probably trying to steal industry secrets.

Fast forward to today, and it’s still alive. 

Is CCleaner Professional Worth It in 2021?

Yes, here’s why:

The first cyberattack affected the free CCleaner for Windows version 5.33.6162. The other target was the free CCleaner Cloud version 1.07.3191.

So, if you have a more updated iteration of either app, it shouldn’t infect your hardware. If you have a 64-bit Windows system, to begin with, you won’t have to worry about the infection. The CCleaner malware impacted machines with 32-bit processors.

Also, the malware wasn’t a CCleaner virus. It consisted of two Trojans, which couldn’t replicate themselves.

The second was a wave of attacks that occurred from mid-May to early October 2019. The hackers infiltrated Avast’s network through an employee’s VPN (virtual private network) credentials. The company believed that the cybercriminals were trying to slip malicious code into CCleaner.

Fortunately, Avast was able to nip the second coming of the CCleaner malware in the bud.

Although there was no harm done, it’s safe to assume that supply chain attackers would keep targeting CCleaner. Certainly, its massive user base is very attractive to black hat hackers.

Neutralizing supply chain attacks, however, is a reality all blue-chip tech companies constantly have to deal with. It just so happened that cybercriminals view CCleaner as a weak link in Avast’s network.

How to Uninstall CCleaner

Is CCleaner safe to use?

Absolutely!

In fact, none of the recent negative CCleaner reviews on Trustpilot, and G2 were about security. The biggest complaints the company has received were cost- and billing-related.

But if you’re still anxious enough not to keep it in your system, you can uninstall it with ease.

CCleaner’s uninstallation procedure is no different from those of other apps. And the process varies by platform.

But here’s how it works on Windows.

  1. Launch Control Panel.
  2. Choose Uninstall a program under Programs.
  3. Look for and click CCleaner.
  4. Select Uninstall/Change.
  5. Click Yes on the dialog box to verify that you want to remove CCleaner from your computer.

CCleaner Alternatives

CCleaner isn’t the only good disk cleaner in town. You can also consider Avast Cleanup Premium, System Mechanic, and MiniTool Partition Wizard.

Let’s see how CCleaner stacks up against these three.

CCleaner vs Avast Cleanup Premium

Avast owns both CCleaner and Avast Cleanup Premium. Unsurprisingly, the two are more or less the same. Both of them can:

  • Clean registries.
  • Clear browser data and cookies.
  • Optimize the hard disk.
  • Removes unwanted plugins.
  • Stop resource-intensive apps.
  • Automate device maintenance.
  • Set software updates on autopilot.

In terms of differences, CCleaner has no answer to Avast Cleanup Premium’s Disk Doctor, Bloatware Removal, Defragmenter, and Shortcut Cleaner. But going with the Pro Plus license can help offset these weaknesses.

Price-wise, the CCleaner bundle is cheaper than Avast Cleanup Premium’s 1-PC plan ($44.99/year).

But for just $5 more, Avast Cleanup Premium becomes a cross-platform app and supports up to 10 simultaneous device connections.

CCleaner licenses are platform-specific. So, you need different subscriptions to use the app on different devices and operating systems.

Avast Cleanup Premium has no free version. But its free trial is twice as long as that of the CCleaner Windows 10 edition.

CCleaner vs System Mechanic

Next to System Mechanic, CCleaner’s functionality seems basic and limited.

System Mechanic is good at standard PC optimization tasks. But it has specialized features for gaming and music and video production too.

iolo’s PC optimizer can quietly fine-tune your idle device and stop when you’re back in front of the screen.

It has mind-blowing capabilities like Net Booster, which enhances hidden Windows settings for faster internet.

Its Incinerator technology is like Recycle Bin on steroids. It shreds the files you delete, so they’re beyond recovery.

CCleaner has the upper hand as far as updates go. It has dedicated tools for keeping apps and drivers fresh.

And there’s no System Mechanic equivalent to its duplicate and large-file finders.

So, If you’re on a budget, System Mechanic might be out of your reach. Its powerful functionalities don’t come cheap.

To have all the bells and whistles, you may have to spend as high as $79.95 a year. For that price, however, you can buy CCleaner Professional Plus for 24 months.

Fortunately, System Mechanic has free versions and free trials too. But you may only use it on Windows. CCleaner, on the other hand, is versatile enough to work on macOS and Android.

CCleaner vs MiniTool Partition Wizard

There are almost no parallels between CCleaner and MiniTool Partition Wizard. The latter is a disk management app for Windows through and through.

Most of us don’t create, delete, or edit our partitions ourselves. So, just advanced PC users may find value in this reputable disk manager.

Disk Analyzer and Drive Wiper are the only features of the CCleaner app that resemble MiniTool Partition Wizard functionalities.

You don’t need MiniTool Partition Wizard unless you must know your partitions’ properties and run tests to check their performance. But if you think you do, you can download its free license.

Of course, the free plan is short on features. The price of MiniTool Partition Wizard’s premium subscriptions for individual users starts at $59 a year. Long-term users can buy a perpetual license for $159 only.

Similarly, CCleaner uses a tiered pricing model. It has no lifetime license yet, though. But it’s available for trial use, whereas MiniTool Partition Wizard isn’t.

CCleaner Pricing

There’s a free CCleaner edition whatever supported device you have.

If you have Windows, you can test the app’s full functionality at no cost. To clarify – this free trial requires no payment information and/or email address. So, rest assured, you won’t incur a subscription once it expires.

You may pay about $5 more for the same features, however, if you live outside of the US. CCleaner uses geo-restrictions not to block certain users, but to display different prices by region. It bills you in your native currency and automatically applies the extra charge.

Fortunately, you don’t have to put up with the software’s price in your location. You can use a trusted VPN to game the system.

Moreover, the cost of CCleaner subscriptions varies from platform to platform. Supposedly, the price differences reflect the functionality inadequacies between products.

Check out the following lists to see the merits between CCleaner Pro vs Free licenses.

  • CCleaner Free

    • Basic Health Check
    • Custom Clean
    • Registry Cleaner
    • Startup and Browser Plugins Manager
    • Disk Analyzer
    • Duplicate Finder
    • System Restore Manager
    • Drive Wiper
    • Uninstaller
    • Smart Cleaning
    • Inclusions and Exclusions
  • CCleaner Pro

    • 14-day CCleaner free trial
    • $24.95/year (undiscounted price: $29.95/year)
    • All free CCleaner features
    • Advanced Health Check
    • Deep Clean
    • Scheduled Cleaning
    • Adjustable Smart Cleaning settings
    • Automatic Browser Cleaning
    • Software Updater
    • Driver Updater
    • Priority Support
  • CCleaner Pro Plus

    • 1 year: $34.95/year (undiscounted price: $44.95/year)
    • 2 years: 21% off
    • All features in the Pro plan
    • License for up to 3 PCs
    • Defraggler
    • Recuva
    • Speccy
  • CCleaner for Free (macOS)

    • Cleaner
    • Startup
    • Drive Wiper
    • Large File Finder
    • Duplicate Finder
    • Uninstaller
    • Manual OS and Browser Updates
  • CCleaner for Mac Professional

    • $24.95/year (original price: $29.95/year)
    • All CCleaner for Mac free features
    • Smart Cleaning
    • Automatic Browser Cleaning
    • Automatic OS and Browser Updates
    • Priority Support
  • CCleaner for Free (Android)

    • Cleaner
  • CCleaner for Android Professional

    • Available in monthly and annual billing options
    • From $1.39 to $13.39
    • Deep Clean
    • Scheduled Cleaning
    • Long-Term Boost
    • Advanced Photo Optimizer
    • Priority Support

CCleaner has dedicated products for business use. They are:

  • Technician
  • Business
  • Network
  • Cloud

The Technician edition is for break-fix and corporate technicians. It costs $2 per endpoint per month.

The other three are for businesses of different sizes. You can think of them as various tiers of the same product. The Cloud iteration comes with a 14-day CCleaner free trial.

You can buy any CCleaner license with PayPal or any card from Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and also JCB.

When it comes to refunds, you can enjoy a 30-day money-back guarantee on select CCleaner products

You may also request and get a reimbursement for the unused portion of your subscription under certain circumstances. One example is refusing a change to the End User License Agreement.

CCleaner Review – Verdict

CCleaner has fallen out of favor with many critics due to the cyberattacks on it after the Avast takeover.

However, I should all lay the narrative that CCleaner is unsafe to rest. The latest CCleaner reviews can back this up.

We wouldn’t blame you if you go with another computer optimizer with a cleaner history of security. But I found no problems with it in 2021.

The one major grievance I had against it was its surcharges on purchases made outside of the States. It’s bad, but it would have been better if it would openly advertise what it would charge you to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Functionality-wise, CCleaner is getting better. New features keep coming and are rounding out its arsenal as an all-around utility.

It’s a bummer, however, that it doesn’t support iOS. But it’s still more versatile than similar scrubbing software. Its free versions and trials make it a less risky choice.

So, If you trust Avast (despite the attacks), there’s no reason why you shouldn’t trust CCleaner.

FAQ

Is CCleaner a virus?

No, CCleaner is a legitimate app for Windows, macOS, and Android. Piriform originally developed it, and Avast now controls it. In fact, it has been around since 2004.

Sadly, many people have erroneously thought of it as malware after being the subject of two cyber attacks since 2017.

Is CCleaner still hacked?

At the time of writing this CCleaner review, there’s no word on a new wave of cyberattacks.

The last reported hack on this Avast-controlled app was in 2019. And it was unsuccessful.

Is CCleaner Windows 10 safe?

Yes, it is.

Back in 2017, hackers successfully completely compromised the free CCleaner for Windows and Cloud apps. But the affected versions were just 5.33.6162 and 1.07.3191, respectively. Also, these incidents impacted 32-bit Windows-powered machines only.

Subsequent app updates have addressed the Trojans slipped into the impacted products.

The most recent testimonials from Trustpilot users are proof that the popular utility has been safe to use. And the majority of the CCleaner reviews posted on the platform over the past 12 months were positive.

What is safer than CCleaner?

Any utility not owned by a major tech company is less appealing to supply chain attackers. Therefore, such an app may be safer than CCleaner. And you can find countless of them in one Google search.

Then again, programs that have no history of getting compromised are trustworthy until they’re not. So, it’s hard to declare any app to be safer than CCleaner. Even highly regarded secure apps like CleanMyMac aren’t totally immune to cyber attacks.

Besides, Avast has done a commendable job at neutralizing the Trojans that infected CCleaner. The fact that the second attack was fruitless is proof that Avast’s resistance to hackers has improved.

Is there a better cleaner than CCleaner?

Avast Cleanup Premium and System Mechanic are good alternatives to CCleaner.

The first one shares the functionality of CCleaner, save for a few notable features. If you want a license for multiple devices, Avast Cleanup Premium can bring more bang for your buck.

The second is more capable than CCleaner and is more suitable for power users. System Mechanic’s subscriptions, however, sell at a premium.

Although CCleaner isn’t the best, it’s good enough at what it does. Actually, it keeps on getting better every year with the rollout of new functionalities.

But is CCleaner safe to use in 2021? Read this article from the top to find out.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Romj is a veteran copywriter who used to be a Jack of all trades. Now, he's trying to be a master of one: technology. He jumps down the rabbit hole to size the latest innovations up. As a content contributor for TechJury, he hopes to help you keep up in our fast-paced world with his discoveries.