Better cleaner-tweaker

This free registry cleaner beats the pay packs at their own game.

FTweak's FCleaner is one of many free utilities designed to clean and optimize your Windows Registry and disk drives. Like many other free registry tools, it promises to improve your system's performance by removing unnecessary, orphaned, and potentially hazardous files and registry entries without causing residual mayhem. Unlike many others, it doesn't contain adware or spyware. It also offers some security- and performance-enhancing features that many free registry editors omit, like a browser cache cleaner that can remove cookies and erase traces of your online activity, including sensitive data retained in out-of-the-way places that other cleaners often miss. There's also a Startup Manager for configuring which programs and files Windows loads on start-up.

We've tested a lot of registry tools, and FCleaner is both typical of the breed and a bit above average in that there's a familiar look to its interface and a familiar feel to its functionality. Compared with the competition, its three-paned front end offers more options for selecting and excluding items to clean and more information about each selection. Similar to the others, it finds a surprising amount of dross in the registry; where it differs is in that it doesn't make things worse by zapping Windows features or disassociating your software certificates. It even has a superior uninstaller.

FCleaner is free, and it's ready for Windows 7. In fact, new releases include an update for cleaning Windows 7 thumbnail files in addition to enhanced AVG antivirus support and a command-line option to stop FCleaner in its tracks.

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