Here's How to Sanitize Your PC With PrivaZer
PrivaZer is a computer clean-up utility on steroids. It gets rid of junk files and wipes away traces of activity that could compromise your privacy. Maybe you think that sounds like some other program you've been using, but trust me, PrivaZer does MUCH more. Read on to learn how it works, and why you should try it...
What is PrivaZer?
I admit I get a bit jaded after reviewing many free software utilities each year. Many are only marginal improvements upon dozens of programs that do essentially the same thing. An increasing number are of the irritating “foistware” genre that attempt to trick me into “agreeing” to installation of unwanted software, monitoring of my online activity, and so on. It’s gotten to the point where you can’t just click on “Express install” and go for coffee; you have to watch what an installation program is doing every second.
So I get excited when a program doesn’t make me yawn, and doesn’t try to scam or scare me. I really pay attention when it does things that no other program I’ve seen does, and does old-hat stuff better than anything I’ve ever seen. When I find that it’s truly free, with only a humble request for unspecified donations via Paypal, I pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming!
The "clean and optimize your PC" field has been crowded for years with things like CCleaner, Advanced System Care, and many others. Even some popular anti-virus tools are offering to optimize your computer. But PrivaZer leaves them all gasping in its dust. I first reviewed PrivaZer back in 2013, and I'm pleased that it remains a useful and free tool that has kept up with changing technology and emerging privacy threats.
The first time you run PrivaZer, you may be dazzled by the number of clean-up options. But you won’t be confused, because they are clearly and cogently explained. A recommended option doesn’t just have the word “recommended” next to it; it includes a brief explanation of why it’s recommended and what it will do that’s different from other options. It even has options for Basic and Advanced users, and will adapt to your needs and skill level. Wow! What a concept: treating users as if they have brain cells!
During everyday use of your home or office PC, you may create, modify, delete or download files, install software, browse the Web, watch online videos, and communicate with others in a variety of ways. All of those activities can leave traces, even if you're privacy conscious. This normal computer usage can also make your PC slower, cluttered, and low on hard disk space.
You probably already know that when you delete a file, it's not really gone. Your operating system just removes the link to it, and the file remains on your hard drive until it eventually gets overwritten by other data. You probably didn't know that when you insert and then remove a USB flash drive, some traces of the data on the USB drive (file names and dates) remain on your computer.
Delete, Expunge, Eliminate, Obliterate, Sanitize
PrivaZer permanently and irreversibly gets rid of your old deleted files and removes residual traces from the file access tables and free space on your hard drive. The PrivaZer documentation says that after a cleanup operation, no recovery is possible, even with dedicated data recovery software such as TestDisk, Recuva, Glary Undelete, Easeus Data Recovery, or Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery.
Your personal documents are preserved, but useless temp files, log files, Internet browsing history and image thumbnails are deleted. PrivaZer does a "smart cleanup" of cookies and jumplists so you won't need to enter your saved logins, passwords and shipping address again. Items that you have pinned or bookmarked are preserved.
The first scan and clean-up of my PC's 250 GB SSD hard drive took about ten minutes, not because PrivaZer is slow but because it does an enormous amount of work. After the scan portion, I had three options for the cleanup phase. I chose the middle one, which promised "medium privacy" with a much quicker cleanup. I have run CCleaner and other manual optimizations on this machine, but PrivaZer still found over 20,000 files and about 9 gigabytes of stuff it could trash or fix.
The fixes are good, too. My computer's performance does seem snappier than when it first came out of the box. The disk space recovered is unimportant because I had plenty of free space to begin with. But all my disk sectors – including free space - are now squeaky-clean of file fragments and other “smudges” that can corrupt data, make data difficult to read, and otherwise slow system performance.
But Wait... There's More (or maybe I shhould say LESS)
PrivaZer does more than C: drives. It cleans and speeds up external drives, network drives, USB flash drives, SD memory cards, iPods, MP3 players, and just about anything that you can plug into a computer. Duplicate files, temporary files, log files, and unneeded Windows update files are zapped. Even old, festering Windows installs left over from a system upgrade are detected and removed.
In addition to cleaning files and filesystems, PrivaZer does a thorough (but careful) scrubbing of your Windows registry. But just to be safe, I recommend that you check the "Create a restore point" and "Save registry" boxes before running the scan and clean.
Optionally, you can remove web browsing history, saved passwords, and cookies. If you don't use the Hibernation feature, PrivaZer can disable it and remove the hibernation file, which can be huge. If there's anything there that's unnecessary, or a potential privacy risk, PrivaZer can and will nuke it on demand. It even comes in a portable version, so you can keep it handy on a USB drive and help out friends who need a good PC cleanup.
The only thing I don’t like about PrivaZer is that capital “Z” in its name. Oh, and it doesn't come with a free set of steak knives. I highly recommend PrivaZer. You’re going to like the way it works. I guarantee it. If you want to free up some space on your hard drive, improve your privacy, or erase your Internet history, give it a try and let me know how it works for you.
Your thoughts are welcome! Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 14 Nov 2019
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Most recent comments on "Here's How to Sanitize Your PC With PrivaZer"(See all 37 comments for this article.)
15 Nov 2019
I've used PrivaZer for a very long time on a desktop and two laptops with no issues at all.
For years, I relied on System Mechanic to fix things and it still works just fine but PrivaZer, run after SM, always finds several other things that need to be deleted.
I donated too, because it is worth a lot and is constantly updated.
15 Nov 2019
Ive had a problem with privazer that I wrote the creators a while back but they havent fixed it. When i run quick clean it doesnt remove the cookies. Ive checked it after it has run for months now and everytime it doesnt do it. If i run it a 2nd time it finally does remove the cookies. VERY ANNOYING Otherwise i think it is a great program.
I run Advanced system care, Privazer Quick Clean, Regclean(old windows registry cleaner program), sfc /scanboot(set up to run automatically without a disk) and Puran defrag at boot. Keeps my machine purring along and never bogged down.
15 Nov 2019
Does PCMatic allow the program? And if so, why do they not incorporate it into their programs?
15 Nov 2019
I've used PrivaZer with confidence for years and always found it to work well. So good to read your expert views and reassurance.
16 Nov 2019
I've been a happy camper using PriaZer for several years. Running two desktops and one laptop all have Windows 10
I'm wondering if the negative comments, might be the fact those people tried to run the software with every box ticked. I started out very slow until I had some extra time to figure out all the in's & out.
Just my thoughts.
17 Nov 2019
Downloaded the donner version and ran it yesterday.At 72 years old I don't know much about Computers (My first was a Tandy 1000) but I do trust Bob so.... works and auto password still worked after I ran it so all is good.
17 Nov 2019
I have used Privazer for several years. It has not failed me yet. Does nice job of cleaning up drives, even WD backup drives.
17 Nov 2019
What is the difference between the free and donor
version? If there is no difference, how much do you think I should still donate?
Thanks, I have read your posts for many years and love them.
I even remember when you got married! :)
23 Nov 2019
Been using the Donors version for 3 yrs on Win 7 and now 10 without issue and great results. Must set your parameters how you want them before you dig in the first time! Save your logon passwords.
My only concern is doing it too often given I run a SSD C Boot. I wonder how often IS safe? Anyone know? Monthly, quarterly, weekly, or what for a full boot drive clean with single pass??
24 Nov 2019
Hello Bob. I wondered when you would get around to this one & yes it is a bit mind-blowing disbelief to realize this is FREE.
I have been using it for about 11 years now, & each year I donate $10 AUD for the donor version. (Cheap you might say, but I also donate to others as well, like Wikipedia)
It is an amazing program, way superior to others like CCleaner & PCMatic as well as Wise Care 365, Glary, Advanced System Care, et al, & just love it.
A pity that there is not a tool to check out the browsers with recommendations on what to keep as add-ons.
I highly recommend it.
Thanks again for a superb analysis of yet another program.
31 sleeps till Christmas day :)
01 Dec 2019
Hello to all here, hello to Bob,
here is the PrivaZer Team, thanks for your nice comments. PrivaZer gets always improved thanks to user feedbacks, if you have questions, Bob or yourself, feel free to contact us to firstname.lastname@example.org
30 Dec 2019
Been using PrivaZer ever since you recomended it back in 2013-2014 never ever had a problem with it. I started using the donners version after about a year, there is no difference between donners version and free, because I wanted to support this company and I hope it NEVER goes away. Thank you Bob for steering PrivaZer in my direction.
23 Aug 2020
I may be missing something, but I don't see that Privazer is deleting any Internet "traces." Here is the sequence of what I'm doing (v. 4.0.8):
In opening screen, select "Scan specific traces" > "Internet activities."
Press "Scan" button to scan the five items listed (Internet browsing, Cookies, etc.).
Look through the scanned traces on the right side of the screen, noting hundreds of websites listed, under such categories as "Visited" and "Frequently used."
Press "Clean" button to clean the traces (right?).
Shut down Privazer, immediately re-open it (no intervening web viewing), and repeat the process through "Scan".
Review the traces listed on the right side of the screen.
**THE SAME hundreds of websites are listed!** No traces have been removed.
Again, am I missing something?
05 Dec 2020
yes a do use PRIVAZER for years the best on the market with only a little donation
05 Dec 2020
Just ran PrivatiZer and its FANTASTIC. I have heard about iy for years, but never got around to it. Then a few days ago I was alarmed to see thumbnails of seemingly random webpages buried deep in mozilla folder inside documents and settings. Ran PrivatiZer and all is cleared. Purged over 1600 entries from Registry. 40,000 unused MFT entries and 220,000 log file entries. Even on an old computer it was much faster than the suggested time. The publishers are Wizards. -Greg
29 Mar 2021
The latest free version of 32-bit Privazer screwed up my laptop. After I rebooted when P had finished, the Dell Latitude laptop just kep shutting Dow randomly. I tried reseating the battery, memory and hard drive, but nothing I did fixed it. Luckily I had made a complete backup a few days before, but the laptop failed to recognise the external USB hard drive. Eventually I removed the hard drive and piggy backed it to a desktop PC. Then I was able to do a successful system restore. Since the, it has worked fine.
14 Sep 2021
Before I use any of these devices I need to be sure that I will be able to keep it from removing or deleting cookies or browsing history because I make use of both of these.
24 May 2022
I have used PrivaZer since you first recommended it back in 2013. It does everything you said it does. I run it nearly every day and it keeps 3 systems running smoothly. Thanks Bob!
24 May 2022
I have been using PrivaZer for over 10 years. I especially like the cleaning function every time you close a browser. It's worth the small donation to keep this program up to date.
10 Jun 2022
I've used PrivaZer for quite a few years, and I run the full program at least once a week. The "Clean up Internet Traces" is also very handy. I don't remember where I first heard of this program, but it's very good for speeding up a sluggish computer. AND I've never had a single problem with it.