BleachBit is a free and open source alternative to CCleaner. The program original was designed for Linux back in 2008 and is written in Python, it got later with v0.5.0 a second life with the announcement that it supports Windows XP. The program was improved over the years and new features were added, like support for a command-line interface or a an option to compress Firefox database.
The program in his current forms works for Linux the same way like on Windows, it offers a bunch of functions in order to delete files, folders and program leftovers. The interface is minimalistic and you need to check what you like to clean, by default every program which you see on the left side is unchecked.
The overall goal of the program is to clean remove private information relevant files and the second main function is to remove temporarily or junk files. The program is translated in over 61 languages. Prominent users include Bruce Schneier and Hillary Clinton’s team.
The first time you start the program it tries to communicate with the Internet to the following URL
https://update.bleachbit.org/update/2.0 (over HTTPS) in order to check for program updates. You can disable this (if you like) in the options menu.
The developer of BleachBit created a video that visualizes the development of the program from its humble beginnings in 2008 to 2018, you can find more videos from the developer and the program history over here.
- It supports all Linux systems and all Windows versions from XP up to Windows 10. MacOS support is somewhat limited, see here why.
- The program can be used/downloaded in a portable package, so you don’t have to install the program.
- The program shred your files and wiping unallocated disk space to minimize data remanence
- BleachBit also has an option menu with ‘advance settings’ in order to e.g. whitelist specific files or folders
- A command line interface which allows you to automate some cleaning processes
- CleanerML allows you to write your own cleaning rules.
You can directly get access to the downloads of the setup or portable versions over the official website. There are also unstable (nightly) builds available here, keep in mind that these builds are beta which mean they might contain more bugs compared to the final versions.
Using the program
BleachBit works similar like CCleaner, you select the things it should clean, like temporarily files, old database backups or saved passwords. In case something important gets wiped you see an approval Window which warns you if you rally like to clean it.
BleachBit detects which software you have installed based on it’s integrated database, if one of your programs are detected by it’s database and installed on your OS it shows you options to clean it’s integrated temporarily files. You can improve the database with more entires by downloading the Winapp.ini (for Windows) and place it into the same location as the BleachBit executable. This offers more database entries which are then been checked and if a match appears also displayed in BleachBit.
BleachBit itself requests administrative privileges in order to get access to the files it like to clean, this is done because several files or folders are might be protected and need higher rights in order to delete it’s content.
The preferences menu brings you to some more options the program has to offer. You can set your custom cleaning paths or folders you like to clean (Blacklist) and you also can exclude some folders or files (Whitelist).
In case the program crashes
If there any crashes then you see a Window which shows you that a log file was created, you can use this logfile to show what was causing the crash or to submit it to the developers so that they might can take a look at it and fix the program.
The program includes a BleachBit.ini file which allows you to manually edit the program settings, this is useful if you’re on a portable version or not like to manually re-configure the program and it’s given options or black-/whitelists every time you re-install or unpack it.
Differences BleachBit and CCleaner
CCleaner is the all-in-one solution, it has more options like a Registry Cleaner, a Cookie auto-cleaning option and a better user interface (matter of taste of course). However, BleachBit does exactly what it promises and that it doesn’t have other features like a missing Registry Cleaning function is not a bad thing, I think it’s a plus because you simply won’t need it.
The missing monitoring option is also not a big deal, you simply can work with command line interface (bleachbit_console.exe) in order to get the ability to clean the junk via a script and a scheduled task. It’s not as comfortable as CCleaner because it doesn’t have an integrated option for it but it’s still possible. An example how you do it is given here. The official forum also is a good start in case you need help or to get example scripts.
BleachBit is a real alternative to CCleaner, that some functions are ‘missing‘ is pretty much okay in my eyes – I’m not a fan of registry cleaning and it’s not needed. The little program is underrated and deserves more support, what I don’t like is the GUI which looks awful and has room for improvements, it could get some Icons to quickly identify the specific cleaning sections and the explanation what it clean is here and there incomplete.
The real criticism point I have is only that the command line interface should be integrated into the main program, so you have one executable for everything and beginners might find it easier to automatically clean cookies after they restarted their system. I think this could really be improved and it would be a win-win situations for experts the same like for beginners, the usability is in my opinion always an important point in ever program and not something BleachBit exclusive.
The program gets my full recommendation, when it comes to it’s cleaning functions. It does exactly the same as other programs and you can work with it straight from the beginning. The Winapp2.ini function ‘pimps’ the integrated database (the same way like with CCleaner) and allows you to clean additional leftovers.