Warning against CCleaner - a cleaning program for Mac and Windows

Does CCleaner spy on its users and is it dubious?

After this article went online today, it only took me a few minutes to get multiple feedback from readers advising me to warn rather than recommend the program. The two main criticisms are:

  • CCleaner spies on user data and there is no way to turn it off
  • CCleaner automatically installs updates without user consent

In order to respond to this and other criticism, I would like to name a few sources that reported some time ago about the privacy problems with CCleaner.

Sources reporting on CCleaner's problems

  • CCleaner spies on its users: This is the manufacturer's lame excuse - chip.de
  • Warning: CCleaner 5.45 is spying on users, cannot be switched off - winfuture.de
  • Big update for CCleaner: New version without hidden espionage - chip.de
  • CCleaner overwrites settings and makes a forced update to version 5.46 (Original: “CCleaner Disregarding Settings and Forcing Update to Latest 5.46 Version”) – bleedingcomputer.com
  • Attention: The CCleaner not only spies, it also overwrites your data protection - futurezone.de
  • Be careful with the CCleaner: the program wants to install Avast without being asked - chip.de
  • CCleaner 5.46: Developers want to regain trust - pcwelt.de
  • CCleaner Malware Disaster: What You Need to Know Now - pc-magazin.de
  • CCleaner infected with malware - malware infects known maintenance software - mirror.de
  • Backdoor in CCleaner enabled remote access - update strongly recommended - heise.de

All points that were not the case in the past - before the takeover by Avast. I know an old version of the program and it has served me well to clean the programs and memory of my friends ’bitchy Windows boxes. For this reason I wanted to pass it on to you as a recommendation.

If you read the comments in the messages linked above, you can see that many felt the same. The old versions of CCleaner have been praised and served well, but the software has been going downhill since it was acquired by Avast.

In hindsight, I have to say that I'm glad I got so much feedback from my readers. Now that I've read so many reports about the tool, I can confidently put it in the "dubious" corner and advise against installing it.

More interesting posts in the blog:

Open source alternative to CCleaner

A reader sent me the program”BitBleach” as a possible free alternative to CCleaner. BitBleach is open source and therefore ad-free. So you can be sure that you won't get another "helper program" installed along with it or that your own user data will not be sent around the world.

Due to the messages about CCleaner linked at the top, I am no longer sure whether CCleaner is a recommendation. The sometimes very dubious practices that the developers have shown here do not create any trust in me - even if the software may actually do a good job.

I would tend to go for the free”BitBleacher” (WIN) or the paid tools CleanMyMac or CleanMyPC guess.

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12 Responses to “CCleaner Warning – A Cleaner for Mac and Windows”

  1. An indication of the company's critical data collection behavior would have been nice. Since then I have been using the open source software BitBleach ... not so pretty, but sufficient functionality and no data collection.

    1. Hello Enc! Thank you for this interjection. In fact, I wasn't aware of that. The post will be extended by a paragraph about it... obviously this data collection started after CCleaner was taken over by Avast. The privacy settings to prevent this data collection apparently no longer exist... so it's now more of a "questionable" program.

      I would write an article about BitBleach in the near future. That sounds like a good alternative!

      1. Hello Lara! Yes, that's right. I just did a search, but there is only one version that you have to run with the terminal. I don't know of a free alternative either. Except “About This Mac” > “Disks” > “Manage” and then “Optimize Storage” and “Reduce Chaos”. Those are two new options in macOS (since High Sierra I think). This will get rid of a bit of junk data.

        The software works nicer, more effectively and more comprehensively CleanMyMac XI've been using for years. Unfortunately, it costs money.

  2. Now that the second enormously harmful "tool" has been published here, I will probably have to uninstall the RSS feed from "Sir Apfelot" in my reader.
    In my opinion, it is outrageous to present such things here and also to recommend them.
    This disqualifies the author as an expert.

    1. Hello Froyo52! Thank you for your comment. I really made the wrong recommendation here. CCleaner used to be fine, but has apparently evolved into a data collector (spyware) since the Avast acquisition. I'm sorry ... the article will be rewritten as appropriate tonight to provide a warning. I hope I can keep you as an RSS reader. It would be a shame to lose such professionals and critical readers as you. Even if we disagree with CleanMyMac - there are no discussions with CCleaner! LG!

    1. Hello Siegfried! Thank you for your feedback signal. I know CCleaner from before, but obviously the software has gotten a lot worse. I will rephrase the article and make it a warning. That is more likely than a recommendation.

  3. Hello, I didn't take part in the first update and I'm still in the U version without the tangled spiogentenkruff. Still does its services without problems and only complains when starting because of update. I can live with that.

  4. Following the discussion, I think it is completely wrong to leave this article in its assessment in the blog, only the warning should remain, I agree with the previous speakers.

    Jens, clarity is required here, I understand, you put a lot of time into research etc., but the result is clear.

    Delete article and leave the warning of data octopus!

    1. Hello Piet! Yes, you're right. Even though I've read by now from people who still achieve good "clean-up results" with old versions, I also think that it's better to warn than recommend. I take everything out after the warning first and will revise the article again when I have the opportunity. I wish you a merry Christmas time! LG!

  5. Hmm, some people have discovered a lot, but the relationships don't seem to be really clear for everything.
    Years ago I started with CCleaner, then downloaded from FileHippo, where I've never downloaded since, a package of malware, so it's not exactly new.
    With downloads from formerly piriform now ccleaner.com I've never caught anything over the years.
    Then there was an auto-download from Avast during an update.
    That only happened to me because I had overlooked the hint that you could tick whether you want Avast or not.
    CCleaner spies on activity?
    I can't check that, but that would be really bad!
    All in all, I still find it very useful, but just download ONLY FROM THEIR website and check with every click whether there is anything else that you should read first.
    When installing, the following recommendation: Don't just click install, but MUST open the small text link below that says something like "Settings or Preferences" or something like that, there you can un-check everything you don't want installed, for example I always choose there only one point “Create a desktop icon”, I don't want anything else, especially not that it is also an active program in the taskbar!!

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