NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
Quarterdeck CleanSweep 4.0
A Review by Doug MacDonald, co-President, June 98
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In July of 1996, I reviewed Quarterdeck Corporation's entry into the uninstaller arena -- "CleanSweep 3.0" for our newsletter. Our club has just been placed on Quarterdeck's "reviewer's list," and the first product they sent was their latest entry in this category - CleanSweep (Extra Strength) 4.0. After using the product for a month, I can say that it brings significant improvements to an already excellent product. Like all software designed to perform the uninstall function, however, it must be used with care.

CleanSweep 4.0 retains all of the basic features in the earlier version of the product. It provides monitoring of all software installations, operation, and Internet transactions (automatically if appropriate supervisory programs are allowed to run continuously). This allows the program to identify little-used programs, files, and "cache" that are candidates for removal, to track "behind the scenes" Internet installation of "cookies," "plug-ins," and ActiveX controls, and to provide a quick and easy way to "clean" the disk and thereby to increase available space when needed. You can "archive" less-frequently used software so that it is available on your hard disk when needed but does not take up all the disk space of a regular installation. You can easily "move" program from one hard disk to another or from one computer to another, obviating the necessity for a completely new installation. CleanSweep 4.0 brings along all Windows 95 (or NT) Registry entries and automatically "sets up" the program in its new location so that it runs just as it did in its prior location. Part and parcel of this function is the ability to "back up" programs in a way that is more useful than a simple copying of all files in case of disk problems. Since all Registry entries are retained with the program, "restoring" a CleanSweep 4.0 backup is a seamless operation.

The most thorough and complete way for CleanSweep 4.0 to remove old or unwanted programs involves referring to its continuous monitoring of all program activity. If CleanSweep monitored the installation of the program, it knows exactly what files were installed and where they went. With this information it is a simple manner for it to remove all files, icons, folders, etc., that resulted from the original installation. Obviously, CleanSweep 4.0 cannot use this method when it did not monitor the installation of a particular program. When this situation exists, CleanSweep relies on a "knowledge base" of over one thousand applications as well as an internal ability to analyze both executable and support files to ascertain file associations. When installed, CleanSweep does a thorough analysis of all files on your computer, checks the Registry, and determines when there are links among files and applications. It compares this information with its knowledge base and is usually able to determine what files are safe to delete and what files other programs may use. It provides this information in color- coded form to the user, who must make the final determination as to whether a questionable file may be removed.

CleanSweep 4.0 works much more quickly than its predecessor, and more safely, because it provides a "fail safe" opportunity for the operator to double-check the system. One of my concerns about the earlier version of this program was that it was almost too automatic. Version 4.0 offers "Fast and Safe Cleanup," a one-button or scheduled cleanup system that rapidly frees disk space by automatically removing "temp" files, files in the "recycle bin" and others. The user has the option of requiring CleanSweep to put certain types of files in the "Quarterdeck Safe," so that he or she can inspect and then authorize final removal. For example, the user can tell the system to put all ".doc" files in the Quarterdeck Safe to ensure that none of the user's Microsoft Word files are automatically deleted.

One of the areas where CleanSweep 4.0 offers a significant opportunity to maintain disk efficiency is also one that requires full understanding by the user. This program can automatically remove all Internet cache files, Internet history files, and those Internet Plug-ins, "cookies," and ActiveX controls that are often loaded onto your browser "behind the scenes." This feature definitely keeps the hard disk cleaner and allows your system to run more efficiently, but it also extracts a price. Internet cache files and history files expedite connection to sites you visit frequently. Likewise, there are some "plug-ins," "cookies," and ActiveX controls that you might want to retain because you visit certain sites often. For example, if I eliminate my "cookie" from the Microsoft Developer Web site, the site forgets who I am; I must re-register each time I visit - a time consuming process. If your browser senses that you need a plug-in or ActiveX control to view something on a site you have selected, it will go out and get the necessary add-on again, adding connect time to your session. CleanSweep 4.0 provides ways of monitoring this activity and preventing automatic removal of specific information, but the user must read the manuals and set this up - the default removes everything automatically! This is a warning about the product, not a criticism. The functionality is excellent, but the user must use it intelligently!

Another useful addition to CleanSweep 4.0 is the Registry Genie. This utility allows the user who wishes to explore the Windows 95 or NT Registry the opportunity to do so in a safe and organized fashion. It contains an excellent means of backing up the registry in a visible, traceable fashion - one that allows you to maintain more than one "good" copy of a working registry. This is essential for anyone doing work with the registry - if you foul something up you must have a good, working copy of the registry to return to. Registry Genie allows you to explore the registry system and to see how things connect. You can edit the registry, make use of a helpful "global" find and replace function, and place bookmarks in areas to which you want to return. Entries are color-coded to help the less experienced user identify critical areas. CleanSweep 4.0 retains the automatic "Registry Sweep" of the earlier CleanSweep version, but provides some checks and balances that weren't in earlier versions. You can "clean" the registry automatically with less danger of accidentally deleting critical information than before. This is still a function that must be used with great care. If you do not understand what you are removing and why, do not remove it!

In summary, CleanSweep 4.0 is an excellent utility for hard disk maintenance and represents significant improvements on its predecessor and on most of the competition. Our evaluation copy will be placed in our Software Library and I strongly recommend that you try it yourself. This product is available in two forms: CleanSweep 4.0, the basic product, lists for $39.99; CleanSweep Extra Strength 4.0 lists for $59.99. The Extra Strength CD version includes free upgrades from the Internet via the "Upgrade It" utility, and contains Quarterdeck's powerful file compression utility, "Zip-It." (I will provide a review of "Zip-It" in another article.) If you already own CleanSweep 3.0, you can upgrade to CleanSweep 4.0 for $19.95 or to CleanSweep Extra Strength 4.0 for $29.95. Both of these upgrades are available through Quarterdeck only.

[Although available on 3.5-inch disks from Quarterdeck, these products are normally supplied on a standard CDROM. You must have a CDROM drive on your system to install the product.]

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