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Do I Need Both CCleaner & Antivirus? (For Beginners)

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CCleaner is a very popular program for PCs to help you keep the system clean and tidy. It does a lot of things but what about antivirus protection?

Does CCleaner Contain Antivirus Protection?
The CCleaner program does not include antivirus protection. You will need a separate program to take care of that in order to keep your system safe and protected. But it does have some overlap with antivirus programs like automated system checks.

So, where’s the line between CCleaner and antivirus programs and what will I need to run in order to keep my computer updated today?

Let’s dig into the details.

Is CCleaner an Antivirus Program?

CCleaner is not an antivirus program. It is owned and run by the same company that owns the Avast Antivirus program but CCleaner is a program designed to optimize your PC. You need an antivirus program to get protected from viruses.

As we shall look at below there are some overlap between the CCleaner program and antivirus programs. For starters, they often get installed together as Avast will try and convince you to install their antivirus program along with CCleaner.

But let’s start by looking at the differences between CCleaner and a classic antivirus program.

Differences Between CCleaner and Antivirus Programs

CCleaner will clean out excess files on your computer and help you delete browser data and cookies on a regular basis. It’s a program to optimize your system. Antivirus programs, on the other hand, are made to protect your computer against outside threats like viruses.

CCleaner has been a good addition to any PC computer for many years.

But…

The purpose of using CCleaner has faded over the years as Windows has gotten much better at doing this itself. Back in the days (like a decade ago and before that) people would need programs like CCleaner to remove files that were built into Windows.

CCleaner and Antivirus Features (Compared)

[su_table]

CCleaner Antivirus
Delete cookies Yes No
Delete browsing history Yes No
Remove unused files Partly No
Remove duplicate files Yes No
System analysis No Yes
Anti-Phishing No Yes
Detect viruses No Yes

But we need to clarify a few things here.

As you can see, the basic functions of CCleaner are to delete cookies and browser history as well as removing unnecessary files on the system.

Let’s take these features one at the time and see what you really need if you run Windows 10.

  • Deleting cookies
    As we will see below, you can do that directly in the browser today.
  • Deleting browser history
    This is also something you can do easily yourself. You can also set it to automatically delete itself when you’re done browsing or at certain intervals.
  • Removing unused files
    This was a clever thing to do back in the day when we were using previous Windows versions. But Windows 10 does a really good job at removing unused files and it doesn’t store a lot of unnecessary files as it once did.
    So this feature is not really important to have a third party program for anymore.

My conclusion here is that you don’t really need CCleaner anymore.

[/su_table]

One of the primary features of CCleaner is that it will clean up your browser data and cookies on a regular basis. But today this feature is built into most browsers and you can simply set these settings directly in the browser.

Today you can let Chrome delete all cookies as soon as you close the program.

Here’s how:

  • Click the Chrome name at the top bar
  • Click Preferences
  • Scroll to the bottom and click “Advanced”
  • Click “Privacy Settings”
  • Click “Site Settings”
  • Click “Cookies and Site Data”
  • Click “Clear cookies and site data when you quit Chrome”

You definitely need to know how to do this but it’s doable. And it’s only something you need to do once! So, it’s not that bad. It’s just that you can do a ton of things with Chrome which makes it really great but also hard to navigate for these things.

CCleaner May Install Avast Antivirus as Well

A while ago the CCleaner company (Piriform) got acquired by Avast. Avast is one of the big antivirus companies with a ton of users and they had an interest in doing so because CCleaner is VERY popular and widespread among Windows users.

Afterall, CCleaner was being used by more than 100 million people not long ago!

They will try and have you install a free version of Avast Antivirus on your computer when you install CCleaner.

You might not notice the little box that can be clicked to not have Avast installed during the install process. It’s at the very bottom and you probably mistake it for being a yes box for agreeing to their terms of use. But when you read the text it says “Want to add security to your installation? CCleaner recommends Avast Free Antivirus”.

So, this is something to be aware of.

Especially if you already have an antivirus program running on your system.

Why This Is a Problem

The fact that CCleaner will install other programs as well (like antivirus programs) is problematic for two reasons:

  1. Antivirus should never be an add-on
    The fact that the Avast company will try and have people install their antivirus program as an add-on that’s not very clearly stated and obvious in the process is a little weird. Simply because antivirus programs are supposed to protect you against exactly that, foreign software getting installed on your computer without a strong and clear concent form the user.
    (Many users have mentioned that they didn’t realize that Avast was installed along with the CCleaner!)
  2. You might already have an antivirus program
    The program will not detect whether you already have an antivirus program running on your system before they prompt you to install their own antivirus program.
    That means that you will often end up with two antivirus programs that may end up causing your system to overheat when running the antivirus scans.

This is not the first time CCleaner has installed additional software unto the user’s machines. They have previously been known to install these programs as well:

  • Google Chrome
  • Dropbox
  • Skype
  • etc.

So, make sure you read ALL the text and check ALL the checkboxes really carefully before you install CCleaner. You might end up with another piece of software (like antivirus) as well.

Do I Need CCleaner When I Have An Antivirus Program?

CCleaner and antivirus programs do different things. Antivirus programs are designed to find viruses and other things that may infect your computer and CCleaner is made to optimize your system by deleting unneeded files.

That’s the quick answer.

But, as we looked at above, you probably don’t need CCleaner at all if you run the lastest Windows programs like Windows 10.

But it’s important to understand that’s there’s a clear distinction between the two types of programs. On the one hand, you have CCleaner that’s an optimization program for Windows and on the other hand, you have antivirus programs that are designed to keep your system safe.

It’s apples and oranges: Optimization programs and protection programs.

Even though CCleaner also claims to be a program designed to enhance your data privacy because they delete browser files and history. But that’s not really related to the protection of your system. That’s more about making sure your personal browsing data are not shared. That’s not critical to the security of your computer.

Do I Need an Antivirus Program When I Use CCleaner?

You will need antivirus protection even if you have CCleaner installed. CCleaner will not detect viruses but only help you optimized your system so it runs more smoothly. You need antivirus programs to keep you safe from viruses and hackers.

Take a close look at the table at top of the article where we compare the features you find in CCleaner with the features you find in a typical antivirus program.

They are very different.

Do CCleaner Contain Virus?

CCleaner has been caught installing malware along with the program. Along with the 5.33 version of CCleaner users got infected with malware but antivirus programs quickly caught this and the breach was fixed. But only after more than 2 million users were impacted.

This was terrible and something that really gave the Piriform (maker of CCleaner) a bad reputation.

It took almost a month before the next update came out that took care of this problem. The next version (5.34) was out and this might also be one of the reasons why the antivirus company Avast acquired the company.

Today, however, you should be safe from that. After all, the CCleaner program is now owned, maintained, and managed by a large antivirus company (Avast).

Sources:

https://www.computerworld.com/article/3226046/heads-up-malware-found-in-piriforms-ccleaner-installer.html

https://blog.talosintelligence.com/2017/09/avast-distributes-malware.html?m=1

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