Workstation Cleaning with CCleaner and Group Policy

Performing digital workstation cleaning in a corporate environment is usually sparked by one of two reasons:

  1. The workstation performance suffers as the local disk fills up (including a point where reads become sluggish due to thousands of files existing in a folder), or
  2. The workstation needs to be in a state where no user history is left behind.

In either event, performing regular maintenance is not only a good idea for increasing performance, but can also help alleviate some compliance issues as well. Note that this article does not focus on any sort of physical cleaning; dust bunnies are your battle to fight alone.

Cleaning with CCleaner

CCleaner is a software package created by Piriform that takes a lot of the hassle out of cleaning a computer. You can view their product page to view more detailed information and download the software. The software is free to use at home or in the office, and offers premium business support for a small fee.

What makes CCleaner nice is the simplicity. The interface is clean, has only a few buttons that you need to learn and navigate, and it works well. Piriform frequently updates the software, with v3.0 being the current version as of this post, and supports clean up for all of the major browsers (IE, Firefox, Chrome, etc.).

Automated Cleaning with CCleaner

The real crown jewel to CCleaner is the ability to automatically run a cleaning by using the /AUTO argument against the executable.

ccleaner.exe /AUTO

Running this command will perform an automatic cleaning of all browser histories, cookies, temporary files, along with the windows recycle bin, temporary files, and recent documents, and more. The registry cleaner is not run when the /AUTO argument is passed.

Setting up CCleaner for the Domain

While you could go around to every computer and install CCleaner, the easier option is to either extract the ccleaner.exe file from the installation, or install it on one lab machine and locate the ccleaner.exe file, then copy the executable to a network share. Distribute using your preferred method, I suggest either:

  1. Create a user logon script: User Configuration > Policies > Windows Settings > Scripts > Logon, or
  2. Create a GPP that runs a script at user logon

Now, when a user logs on to the computer, the task tray will show the CCleaner icon briefly as it purges data, and disappear automatically when complete. It may also be wise to add this to the user logoff script to purge data when the user’s session is completed.

CCleaner is a great way to keep computers clean of temporary and cached files that requires almost no effort to get running immediately. Having used this tool many types of  user, I’ve seen it clear off as much as 10GB of worthless data in just a few minutes.