System Ninja: pro-active drive cleaner will find junk files that CCleaner won’t

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System Ninja is a free hard drive cleaning app that can remove unnecessary junk files from your hard drive.

It is different from some other hard drive cleaning apps, such as CCleaner, in that it pro-actively sets out to find junk files wherever they may reside, rather than looking in prescribed locations. As a consequence it can find many files that CCleaner will simply miss.

It is fairly well known that the more you use your computer, the more unnecessary, temporary, and junk files accumulate on your hard drive.

This can be a problem in situations where you do not have a lot of hard drive space, and can significantly slow down operations such as backing up your system or indexing your hard drive for desktop search, to name but two.

Of course, there are many hard-drive cleaning programs out there, but these are of two kinds. The first type, epitomized by the very well known free app CCleaner, “knows” where to go to look for junk files, or at least has to be told. This results in a quick, relatively safe cleanup, but will invariably leave a lot of junk files behind, simply because they did not reside in the locations where it expected them.

System Ninja, in contrast, will look everywhere for junk files and will identify them intelligently. This takes a little bit more time but will find many files that the first type of program will not.

This app is by the same programmer who brought us CCEnhancer, a small program that enhances CCleanerr’s ability to clean up files left over by many programs. On seeing System Ninja, I was wondering why the author would bother writing a hard drive cleaning app of his own given that he invested time and energy creating an app that makes CCleaner better. So I sent him an email to ask, and his response was as follows:

“Almost a year ago I had some problems with Adobe Dreamweaver dumping, hundreds, even thousands of .tmp files in all my Web Design, FTP and local server drives all of which CCleaner would miss. It was way too time consuming to go through the whole drive deleting these files, so I wrote a small tool in Visual Basic to automate the process. As time went on I found more and more stuff that CCleaner couldn’t clean because of the limitations in the way it has been written. CCleaner finds unwanted files based on the exact location of the file, yet it doesn’t recursively scan the entire drive looking for junk. In contrast, System Ninja does not know the locations of the junk files, rather it scans the entire drive and performs a number of checks to decide whether the file is junk or not. This includes looking at when the file was last accessed, whether any processes are reading from it, what file extension it has, the file name and whether it is contained in any internal whitelist. System Ninja will never clean as much as CCleaner, as it was [built] in order to complement CCleaner, together they make quite a good team.”

More notes on this program as follows:

  • Scan settings: are displayed on the right hand side, and users are able to check/uncheck the type of file that they want or don’t want to look for (see screenshot). For example, if you don’t want Internet Cookies to be cleaned simply uncheck them in the settings.
  • Specify what files to delete: once System Ninja concludes it’s scan you can preview and pick and choose the files you would like deleted.
  • Portable software: extract and run, no install needed.
  • Other tools: includes a startup manager and a process malware scanner. It also includes CCEnhancer, which was mentioned above.
  • Folder Cleaner: a handy tool whereby you can point System Ninja to a folder and scan it recursively for junk files.

Wish list (or how this program could be even better)

  • Filtering for found files: via some sort of search box for example, would be great.
  • Display and sort by file sizes: for the files identified, it would be great if there was a column that showed the file sizes that you could sort by. This can be beneficial in a situation where you don’t necessarily want to delete unknown files but would like to weigh the cost/benefit (in terms of how much space will be saved).

The verdict: a great tool. I have a C: partition that is very short on space, and System Ninja has proven to be invaluable in finding unneeded files that CCleaner missed (even after it was enhanced with CCEnhancer) – by which I mean hundreds of megs not kilobytes.

I have been using System Ninja for a couple of weeks and have performed a number of cleanings without seeing any adverse effect. I think it is both effective and trustworthy. I recommend you use it alongside the CCleaner/CCEnhancer combo for a thorough hard drive cleanup.

Version Tested: 1.5.0

Compatibility: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7. Requires MS .NET Framework 3.5 SP1

Go to program home page to download the latest version (approx 652K).