Free version of CCleaner monitors your computer

The free version of CCleaner monitors your computer unless you disable the two options

UPDATE – September 2017: Hackers Hid Backdoor In CCleaner Security App With 2 Billion Downloads — 2.3 Million Infected – https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2017/09/18/…

October 2014. – I have just installed the latest free version of CCleaner, the system-cleaning tool that also provides a useful Windows Registry cleaner. Unfortunately, I discovered new settings – now CCleaner monitors your computer.

Cookie management in your web browser(s)

You should always go through the settings for the web browser(s) that you use. I use Mozilla Firefox and Opera. In Firefox, you access the settings from Tools => Options. In Opera, you click on the red O icon in the top left-hand corner of the browser’s window that brings up a menu that includes Settings.

I set Firefox to delete cookies when it closes because it leaves cookies alone by default. Look for Cookies under Privacy & Security. I enable Keep local data only until I quit my browser.

Cookie management in CCleaner

CCleaner can use “Intelligent Cookie Management” by default, depending on which version you are using. I don’t ever update CCleaner because my customized settings get overridden. If you have installed a version of CCleaner that uses “Intelligent Cookie Management”, you agree to using it during the installation. There is no setting in the tool that disables it. You have to reinstall it using the same installation file.

Anyhow, CCleaner provides a good and easy way to find out which cookies it deletes when run and which cookies it keeps (usually the one that track you, such as Google, Facebook, etc.)

Just open CCleaner, click on Options => Cookies. The window has two panels – Cookies on computer and Cookies to keep. The <= => arrows allow you to move cookies from one side to the other. When run, CCleaner only deletes the cookies on the computer. Move the cookies listed in “Cookies to keep” to “Cookies on computer” and then run CCleaner to delete them. Check regularly to make sure that CCleaner hasn’t put any cookies in “Cookies to keep” because CCleaner might be able to override your browser’s setting to delete all cookies when it is closed.

Enable Intelligent Cookie Scan

During the installation the usual options of what the user wants the cleaner to do appeared. I always disable the option called “Enable Intelligent Cookie Scan” because this leaves in place the cookies of Google, Yahoo! and other tracking sites and there is no option to disable the setting other than by re-installing CCleaner.

To me, that is very suspicious indeed. It looks as if the tool expects you not to go through the settings during installation and allow this default setting while making sure that you don’t see it again in the Settings after installation.

For some reason, with this installation, there was no annoying default option to install Google Chrome as my default web browser or to install McAfee security software.

CCleaner monitoring icon in the Notification Area

When the tool was installed, I noticed that a CCleaner icon was in the Notification Area. The tool was actively monitoring the system like a malware scanner. Since CCleaner is sponsored by Google, I don’t want it to monitor my system in any way, I just want it to remove the usual web debris when I want it to, not even during system startup. I certainly don’t want a system cleaner, which is not a malware scanner, to scan for stuff to clean.

I discovered the settings, applied by default, under Monitoring, under the Options heading. The top one is called “Enable system monitoring” and the bottom one is called “Enable Active Monitoring”. Who knows what the difference between them is? I don’t care, because I am never going to enable either if them. The middle option called “Enable browser monitoring” is only available in the paid-for Pro version of the tool.

It’s up to you if you use the tool if you want it to monitor your system, but I would advise against it, because, yet again, this monitoring has been sneaked it, and is therefore very suspicious. Its options, shown in the image below, did not appear during the installation.

Free CCleaner monitors your computer with these default settings

Free CCleaner monitors your computer with these default settings. Click the image to see its full size