CCleaner Browser in test: Review – and the latest update version

CCleaner Browser

CCleaner is the most popular freeware tool for Windows maintenance, and since July 2019 it has also been available as a browser. The CCleaner browser is not a cleanup tool, but takes the name of the top dog. It is not a completely new development: The source code of Chromium works in the background, on which a large number of browsers – such as Google Chrome – are based. The fact that CCleaner is a constant in the optimization field turned out to be a starting advantage for the related Internet access program during the initial release a few years ago. The “CCleaner for the Web” was sure to attract some attention. Speaking of security, the program is supposed to be technically secure thanks to special privacy features.

Quite some time ago we tested the application as a 32-bit version, currently you can download a more modern 64-bit version from our download section. After all, CCleaner Browser 32 Bit worked with the DEP protection technology during our previous checks. It is optional for 32-bit software, but mandatory for 64-bit programs; Microsoft’s Process Explorer proves the use of the Data Execution Prevention barrier. The current CCleaner browser program version is 114x.

The CCleaner browser is Chrome

… at least visually: It looks like Google Chrome and feels almost the same in terms of operation. The CCleaner browser calls up websites similarly fast. In terms of user interface, the program stands out minimally: There is a shield icon in the upper right (next to the address bar).

Clicking on it takes you to the “Security & Privacy Center” – Google Chrome does not offer such a thing. The security center contains various protection functions. They can be switched on and off with toggle sliders.

The CCleaner browser
The CCleaner browser foto

The security features were enabled throughout the factory in our test: “Privacy Protection”, “Web Protection”, “Password Manager” and “Extension Guard”. Each of the functions displayed as tiles is accompanied by a short explanation.
Quasi a busybody: Via Ctrl-Shift-Del, the CCleaner browser opens a “Privacy Cleaner”, which you can use to delete surfing traces. Google Chrome also responds to the keyboard shortcut and simply calls the function accessible via this “Delete browser data”. Internal browser URLs have the prefix “chrome://” for Google Chrome, but “secure://” for the CCleaner Browser. The CCleaner Browser also processes URLs with Chrome syntax via address bar input, but the reverse is not true.

Chrome add-ons run – extra protection included

It is common for Chrome-related, Chromium-based browsers to work with add-ons from the Google Chrome Store. The CCleaner browser is no exception. In the test, the CCleaner browser was more cautious than Google Chrome: The latter allows the installation of the privacy add-on “Ghostery” without further ado. The Extension Guard interferes with the CCleaner browser. It warns that “Installing this extension (…) may compromise your security” due to the authorization to “read and modify all your data on all websites”.

Users are encouraged to weigh up warning notifications with regard to add-on installations – and to refuse the installation (“Continue to block”) or allow it (check “I am aware of the risks”, then click “Install anyway”).

The aforementioned message at Google’s “Chrome extension for Google Notes” seems absurd. It can be assumed that the search engine operator does not offer malicious extensions – so the browsing protection sometimes confuses and disturbs. Those who do not need the Extension Guard can deactivate it in the Security & Privacy Center via a slide switch.

Speaking of add-ons: You can set them up directly via the Chrome Store, but also by visiting the latter indirectly. To do this, load the “Addons Store” web page linked in the CCleaner browser bookmarks bar. The “CCleaner Add-Ons” offer opens, where you are shown various add-on programs. If you want to install them, however, you will end up in the Chrome Store again (“…)”).

The extensions offered in the aforementioned CCleaner Browser’s own add-on store are those “trusted by CCleaner”. Similar wording can be read in the Avira Secure Browser; it is practically identical in nature and belongs to the same group (NortonLifeLock gathers Avast, AVG, Avira and CCleaner under it).

Add-ons manager facilitates in access

Installed extensions appear in the add-ons management, which can be reached via the three dots at the top right and a click on “Extensions”. The fact that the latter entry can be found here immediately seems to be an advantage. The Chrome browser has a longer mouseover/click path (“Three-dot icon > More tools > Extensions”; recently: “Three-dot icon > Extensions > Manage extensions”). A keyboard shortcut to reach the add-on manager is missing in both clients.

CCleaner Browser launches CCleaner

If the real CCleaner is installed, there is one more tile in the Security & Privacy Center: “CCleaner”. To start CCleaner, select “Start CCleaner”. The question arises whether a browser needs to start other software. But in view of the name CCleaner Browser, a cooperation seems obvious. The reverse also looks good in terms of cooperation: CCleaner recognizes its browser sibling program and lists it under “Advanced Cleanup > Applications”.

There you clean up the CCleaner browser via CCleaner, if you don’t want to do it via the client application itself.
There used to be add-ons for Firefox that were capable of running Windows software. In the wake of Mozilla’s shift to the WebExtensions model, the add-ons in question disappeared from the scene in 2017.

Test conclusion CCleaner Browser: Solid, not much more

Google Chrome is fast, so is CCleaner Browser – and in most respects, both seem identical. Considering the Chromium base, the speed and user interface are not surprising. A rough look at the user interfaces does not reveal whether CCleaner Browser or Google Chrome is running; other Chromium derivatives are similarly reminiscent of the latter Internet access program. The many parallels allow Chrome web surfers to make a smooth transition without having to get used to it.

On the other hand, the congruence stands in the way of the CCleaner browser: Most contemporaries are likely to lack unique selling points, and there is a lack of killer features as a reason to switch. The security center is a nice bonus, but it is nothing fundamentally new. Google Chrome also offers phishing protection; tracking protection can be upgraded with add-ons and Windows software, for example.

One of the biggest advantages of CCleaner Browser is its add-on installation protection wall. However, this also causes false alarms, so as with antivirus software (which CCleaner Browser cannot replace), you should read all messages carefully and consider whether you want to allow blocked code or not. The fact that the CCleaner Browser starts CCleaner tends to be chalked up to a gag, but the added value is low. You can call up CCleaner more quickly by pinning it to the Windows taskbar and then making a single mouse click to “hoist” it into RAM.

If you like Chrome/Chromium technologies, but want to stay outside of the Google/Chromium cosmos for privacy reasons, the CCleaner browser is potentially a good choice. The fact that Piriform (CCleaner maker), which now belongs to Avast (which in turn belongs to NortonLifeLock), is a large provider behind it, speaks in its favor. This speaks for a better update supply than in smaller browser projects with a Chromium core – where updates are sometimes sluggish or no longer happen at all. This makes the CCleaner browser one of the best Chrome replacement tools. Chromium and SRWare Iron are equally good alternatives, but both lack automatic updates.

CCleaner Browser: More alternatives

The CCleaner browser looks a bit like a copy of the Avast Secure Browser, which has been around for a while. The AVG Secure Browser is also a homegrown alternative. Like the antivirus tools of the same name, the security browsers do not make you invulnerable while surfing, just like the CCleaner Browser. The security gain by no means keeps malware at bay so that you can surf carefree. The protection bonus is probably only slight. Avast’s browser starts Avast Free Antivirus as a treat (if installed), AVG’s surfing program does the same with AVG AntiVirus Free. The product portfolio is similar elsewhere: Antivirus, tuning, anti-tracking and software/driver updater are available from Avira (also belongs to NortonLifeLock), Avast, AVG, CCleaner and NortonLifeLock.

Another CCleaner browser replacement: Comodo Dragon (based on Chromium) and Comodo IceDragon (with Firefox code base). The anti-virus provider Comodo wants to offer particularly secure surfing bases with them. Exact explanations of how exactly the extra protection comes about are scarce.

CCleaner Browser
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