Why is CCleaner Asking me to Pay? I Thought it was Free!

CCleaner Said it Was Free but Now It's Asking for Money! What Gives?

Image with several FREE stamps
© Alex Belomlinsky / Digital Vision Vectors / Getty Images

CCleaner is without a doubt one of the better free registry cleaners in existence, but is it really free?

There seems to be some contradictory information out there about CCleaner - it can't be totally free but also a trial program that forces you to pay before the registry cleaning will actually work!

The following question is one of several you'll find in my Registry Cleaner FAQ:

"Why is CCleaner asking me to pay for it? It's on your list of FREE programs!"

CCleaner is free.

Absolutely, positively.

The program is 100% freeware, at least as of my latest review. This means that it's free to download and use in its entirety. In other words, the registry scan is free, as is the actual "cleaning" part.

Remember, too, that CCleaner is a lot more than a registry cleaner and so all other aspects of the program are free to use completely as well. You can find a complete list of features here.

Why, then, is there so much confusion about CCleaner? Why do I get nasty emails complaining that part or all of the program is asking for payment?

Unfortunately, one or more other not-so-free programs masquerade as CCleaner, often times in large banner advertisements on some websites, tricking at least some people into downloading their program.

After finding lots of "problems" and maybe infecting your computer with some malware, it demands that you pay-to-fix.

The poor victim then searches for more about CCleaner, finds me, and...

well, here we are.

To avoid this problem, make sure you're only downloading CCleaner from here, the "Builds" page on Piriform's website, the only maker of the software. That's also the only page I link to in my review.

See my How to Safely Download & Install Software guide for some general information on how to make sure you get what you expect when you download programs.

Beyond that, I think there's also sometimes some confusion with the editions of CCleaner that Piriform offers.

For home users, Piriform offers CCleaner (the free version I've linked to already), as well as a Professional and Professional Plus edition. Both of those offer some optional extras and do cost money but are clearly labeled as such on their site.

Several commercial editions of CCleaner are also offered for business users but are also clearly labeled.

If you're using CCleaner as a registry cleaner, there's no need at all to use anything beyond the free version. There are no bonus registry cleaning features offered in any of the pay-for editions of CCleaner.