Don't use cleaners or optimizers on your computer or phone

This troubleware tip was written on 19 April 2018.

There's many optimizing or cleaning products for computers and phones that supposedly speed up your device. They remove temporary files from your computer to free up disk space. But this is a bad idea.

First, computers are designed so just having having files on your computer won't slow them down. This has been a very important factor since the days of floppy disks and tapes. If you need to free up disk space, try a tool that breaks down your disk usage. For Windows, WinDirStat is a good one. For Android, DiskUsage is good too. Then choose what data to remove, such as videos or programs.

Second, temporary files are beneficial. Removing them may slow down your computer. The point of temporary files is to keep some data around to speed up your computer. When you look at a folder of pictures your computer generates thumbnails. When you visit a website your computer saves parts of it to avoid downloading them again. Deleting temporary files just makes your computer have to do all that again.

Third, if you really need to remove temporary files, cleaners are the wrong tool. It's possible to break your computer by having a cleaner mistakenly remove files it thinks are okay to remove. Only the application that makes the files knows if the files are safe to remove.

If you have any questions about this tip or suggestions for new ones, please contact me.

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