With the increased interest in the Internet and the ever growing number of notebooks now being sold, PC security is something of a growing and hotly debated topic. This is even more true if you share your machine with others, as the potential to have your files hacked significantly increase.
That said, removing traces of your presence is nothing new, as even Internet Explorer and Firefox have options to delete the cache and recent history when you close the browser. However, shredding or hiding your traces can stop people discovering the applications you’ve used or the websites you’ve visited but it can also be used to free up valuable hard drive space, as it will wash out temp and cache files.
Window Washer has been updated and now has full support for Windows Vista and has increased support for an additional 180 programs, which takes the programs supported to close to 400. You’ll see this in action when you first load the program, as a list of applications you have installed is listed. This allows you to specify which programs you want to be cleansed after they’ve been used.
After this you’ll drop down into the main console. The first thing you need to get accustomed to are the analogies to laundry washing. For instance, you perform a "Wash" when cleaning up your system, and in order to make it an even cleaner and stronger wash, you can "add bleach". Whenever you delete a file it doesn’t mean it’s physically removed, just that Windows allows that portion of the hard drive to write over it. This is why recovery programs can often located deleted files. Bleach is a tool that repeatedly overwrites your hard disk with random information, so the files Window Washer has deleted are thoroughly untraceable.
On our first pass, without bleach, the system freed up over 450MB of files, which is quite astonishing and shows how versatile the program is.
If you’ve recently defragged your hard drive, you should see an even better improvement. However, if space is still an issue, you can opt for Clean Free Space utility. Once again, you can choose the degree of vigorous cleansing it will carry out on your hard drive.
This can be time consuming, as even the quickest pass took over an hour on our 80GB test machine’s hard disk. Once again, the results are impressive. We didn’t see a vast improvement in overall performance but used in conjunction with an array of tools it should help preserve the life of your HDD.
The Options setting allows you to set schedules for cleaning. This can be as often as every 15 minutes, or you can choose certain times, such as when you come out of your internet browser.
Windows Washer 6.5 is one of those curious applications that on the surface don’t seem to offer a great deal but once you start to use it, you’ll find plenty of benefits to be had.