CCleaner is a free (zero cost) program which helps you remove old temporary files. Temporary files are files automatically created by programs for a relatively short period of time (hours through weeks). There are some significant advantages to regularly removing temporary files.
Remove Old Temporary Files To Save Space
If your computer is about to run out of disk space, removing temporary files can recover some disk space. Be aware, though, that the programs which created those temporary files will probably soon create new temporary files which will start to fill up your disk drive again.
Most programs with temporary files use them to cache (store) data which will save them computer processing power or Internet bandwidth later. These programs often try to store as much temporary data as possible so they work as efficiently as possible, so even if you delete weeks or months worth of temporary data, you can expect these programs to fill that space back up in hours or days.
Remove Old Temporary Files To Speed Up Your Computer
You can speed up your computer during certain operations by deleting temporary files. The main example of this is doing a whole disk scan with anti-virus software or other programs. If you delete unnecessary temporary files, the program won’t need to scan them, which will make your scan go that much faster.
Of course, the temporary files were there for a reason—to speed up the program which created them, so you’re making a trade off. I usually rather have a faster Web browser with its temporary files than a faster virus scanner without temporary files—after all, I can always walk away from the computer as the virus scanner does its work.
Remove Old Temporary Files For Privacy
The best reason I know of to remove old temporary files is to help protect your privacy. Many of the programs which use temporary files, such as your Web browser and email program, store potentially personal information in those temporary files.
For example, Web browsers store HTTP Cookies in temporary files. Cookies are small pieces of text set by a website on your computer. Each cookie contains that text plus the address of the webserver where it’s valid. If you visit Google.com, you get a cookie with a long code and the address *.google.com. Anyone who looks at your temporary files now knows you visited Google.
Visiting Google probably won’t get you in trouble, but what if you visit a site you aren’t supposed to? There’s a good chance that site will set a cookie on your computer and that anyone going through your temporary files will find it.
Removing old temporary files will remove your cookies and other possibly damaging information on your computer. Note that removing temporary files won’t cover all of your tracks; it will only remove some of the evidence.
But for some people, that’s a good enough reason to remove old temporary files.