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RobertK

Tracking files not cleared?

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I am using Ccleaner Portable on a Windows 8.1 PC. About two weeks ago I sent an enquiry to Piriform support but have as yet not received any reply or acknowledgement so I am trying this forum as an alternative.

First, what is it that Ccleaner calls 'tracking files'? Are these what everyone else calls 'tracking cookies' or something different? My query concerns the fact that Ccleaner seems never seem to remove these entirely. The easiest way to express my question is to copy in the text of my (unanswered) email to support (you will have to imagine the screen shots for yourselves!)

Quote begins

I have a further query and would be glad if you could cast some light on the matter. It concerns 'tracking files' and whether Ccleaner is deleting them or not. I attach three screen shots in support of my query.

I ran a test as follows:

1. I turned off the Internet on my PC (running under Windows 8.1) and then ran Ccleaner Portable. The result screen is shown in screen1.jpg. According to this, Ccleaner has deleted 85 tracking files.

2. I closed Ccleaner Portable and then ran it again - see screen2.jpg. This time it claimed to have deleted 5 tracking files.

3. I repeated 2. above - see screen3.jpg - and this time it claimed to have deleted 4 tracking files.

It seems to me that there are only two explanations: TfL status either Ccleaner is not deleting all the tracking files but only thinks it is or that more tracking files are being produced between runs of Ccleaner but how can that be if the Internet connection to the PC is turned off?

Perhaps you have an idea of what is happening and, if so, I would be glad to hear it.

Quote ends

Perhaps someone here can furnish an explanation as Piriform seems unwilling to do so,

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Thanks for bringing this issue up  RobertK, I was beginning to think there was something very strange going on too, with my CCleaner Pro v5.41.6446. 

Your numbers are considerably smaller than those that I have been getting, so much so that the 'tracking files removed' are always well in excess of the 'Junk' files that are removed by my CCleaner Pro v5.41.6446. For example; After cleaning up all the stuff that CCleaner warns me to do (Set to .3 GB) I only browsed two websites and checked my very small email Inbox.

Did another run with CCleaner shortly afterwards and got a staggering 3310 tracking files removed against a miserly 241MB's of removed unnecessary files! :( 

In view of the type of activity that takes place on my local club Facebook page (which, as club secretary, I reluctantly have to use for communicating with club members) the annoying volume of advertisements that FB insists on bruising my vision with, is kept in check with my uBlock Origin 1.16.0, which does an excellent job of blocking FB's futile adversing efforts.

My Malwarebytes PREMIUM is always up to date, and it too is an excellent defence against nasties, although I have to say, I would be very surprised if nasties were hiding in the web pages I choose to visit, so it generally only warns me when I follow links on websites such as Forums. Please Note: Malwarebytes does not produce any warnings about my very many years of visiting Piriform or https://forum.piriform.com/ ;) My Post count is very low 'cos I don't usually have any Piriform issues.

Here's hoping that the Techsperts in here, may be able to shed some light on this strange imbalance RobertK, if only to enlighten those of us that do not have their skill level. B)

 

 

 

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I'm sorry to disappoint but when I run my 'test' (running Ccleaner repeatedly while offline) I still see a positive number of tracking files supposedly deleted each time.

 

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I'm intrigued Stephen Piriform and RobertK, even after installing the latest release (v5.42) and performing two clean-up runs, here is what I found.

Ran CCleaner twice in succession, there were no traces of 'Privacy' files or 'Junk' files. But Before closing CCleaner, I clicked on the CCleaner Professional logo in the top left hand corner to open http://www.ccleaner.com/ccleaner home page, which I arrived at only after being told I was being re-directed after I clicked on the CCleaner Professional logo.

I did not click on any area of the very informative CCleaner home page except to close my Firefox browser. Remember that my CCleaner program is still running, so I now click on the 'Run Cleaner' button and only have to wait a few seconds before I am informed that under 'Privacy' 66 tracking file(s) removed  and under 'Junk' 2.6MB of unnecessary file(s) removed.

Question: Where did the 66 'tracking' files come from;  Firefox browser or http://www.ccleaner.com/ccleaner home page? 'Cos I sure did not go anywhere else during this test. :(

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On 25/04/2018 at 14:59, Palebushman said:

 Where did the 66 'tracking' files come from; 

I think that this is a sematics question.

ie. What exactly do Avast/Piriform mean by 'tracking files'? It's probably not the same as we would mean.

I suspect that things such as diagnostics, crash monitoring/reporting, browser version update checks, browser history, etc. is being flagged as a 'tracking file'.

Those are not things that I would regard as trackers, but they do fall within a broad definition of tracking. (eg. your browser history is 'tracking' what you have been doing).

It's a common tactic with AV vendors, make files found sound more suspicious than they actualy are to try and sell more product.
(And it's noticiable that this term only appeared in the new results page, since Avast acquired Piriform).

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I decided to take a closer look.

I just ran CCleaner (5.42) and the new graphic results showed "1,283 tracking file(s) removed".

Switching to the Advanced Report I counted all the file detections and totalled them - you guessed it, 1,283 files.

So the new graphic UI is reporting every file found as a "tracking file".

As I suspected it's obviously a 'scare marketing' tactic.

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14 hours ago, nukecad said:

I decided to take a closer look.

I just ran CCleaner (5.42) and the new graphic results showed "1,283 tracking file(s) removed".

Switching to the Advanced Report I counted all the file detections and totalled them - you guessed it, 1,283 files.

So the new graphic UI is reporting every file found as a "tracking file".

As I suspected it's obviously a 'scare marketing' tactic.

Well spotted, nudecad.

That makes sense. It would also explain why 1. the makers did not respond to my original support request and 2. why they have not responded to us here.

I can accept that some system files are regenerated between runs of Ccleaner so, I suppose, it means that now I understand what is going on, my faith in the Ccleaner's cleaning ability has been restored. On the other hand, if there is an intention to mislead the user in this way, then perhaps I should be looking for an alternative, more honest, application to use.

Ccleaner receives almost universal, uncritical, praise from reviewers and it's rather surprising that none of them have noticed this piece of obfuscation.

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22 hours ago, nukecad said:

I think that this is a sematics question.

ie. What exactly do Avast/Piriform mean by 'tracking files'? It's probably not the same as we would mean.

I suspect that things such as diagnostics, crash monitoring/reporting, browser version update checks, browser history, etc. is being flagged as a 'tracking file'.

Those are not things that I would regard as trackers, but they do fall within a broad definition of tracking. (eg. your browser history is 'tracking' what you have been doing).

It's a common tactic with AV vendors, make files found sound more suspicious than they actualy are to try and sell more product.
(And it's noticiable that this term only appeared in the new results page, since Avast acquired Piriform).

 

6 hours ago, RobertK said:

Well spotted, nudecad.

That makes sense. It would also explain why 1. the makers did not respond to my original support request and 2. why they have not responded to us here.

I can accept that some system files are regenerated between runs of Ccleaner so, I suppose, it means that now I understand what is going on, my faith in the Ccleaner's cleaning ability has been restored. On the other hand, if there is an intention to mislead the user in this way, then perhaps I should be looking for an alternative, more honest, application to use.

Ccleaner receives almost universal, uncritical, praise from reviewers and it's rather surprising that none of them have noticed this piece of obfuscation.

Hi  nukecad and RobertK,
Back in October last year, I was more than a little concerned to see Avast and CCleaner in the same wrapping, mainly because my experiences with the Avast AV program has been far from a happy one. ( To check what had happened with the CCleaner 'take-over' I wrote to Piriform before deciding what to do with CCleaner.
Below is part of the email reply that I received from Piriform:-
Hi Dave,

Thank you for your email. I'm happy to say that Piriform is indeed a British company; we're headquarted in London as you can see on our website here: http://www.piriform.com/about/offices (the 'main US office' notation is due to the fact that we have a few very small satellite offices in the US, like mine, to try to help cover more time zones for support).

Please note that while we have joined with Avast's operations, we're still operated independently, and that there's no Avast code in our software, nor do we require the usage of their antivirus software. (We'll be happy to recommend it if someone asks for suggestions about antivirus software, of course, but that's about the extent of it.) 

Unfortunately, I don't know of any UK-based cleaning software beyond our own; for instance, I just checked each of the companies listed in this article: https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2371155,00.asp and none of them are in the UK (the article is by no means exhaustive, but I figured it'd serve as a representative sample).
In all fairness to the awesome Piriform/CCleaner development team, I suspect all these mysterious 'Tracking' files are really to do with Browser 'Add-ons' etc,
rather than anything nefarious.;)

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7 hours ago, RobertK said:

 if there is an intention to mislead the user

I don't think there is an intention to deliberately mislead, just general 'advertising speak' such as you see all the time.

As I said above it's semantics and how broadly you define 'tracking'.

In a sense:
Cookies do 'track' what you have been doing, for instance so if you close then reopen your browser it can remember what webpage you were on, or how you prefer to view a forun page, etc.
Logfiles are a record of something you did so have 'tracked' you.
Temp files are a record of something you did so have 'tracked' you.
etc.

I personally would call these 'record' files rather than 'tracking' files, (I would call things like key-loggers 'tracking' files).

But it's not actually lying to call them 'tracking' files and as long as you realise that this is just 'advertising speak' and no one is actively tracking you, then I don't see a problem.

Lets face it CCleaner is a cleaner, it's not meant to be antimalware dealing with trackers, key-loggers, etc.
(Which is why I suspect that it was the Avast marketing arm that had a hand in using this particular wording in the graphic results display).

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Ok I was going to answer that these tracking files were likely what is often called "usage tracks" or "usage tracking files",  of which there are plenty that have nothing to do with cookies or the internet, and are locally created. Things like the stuff that appears in jump-lists, recently opened sections, and explorers recent files, for example. However, I ran a test (i.e I cleaned only the System temporary files entry) as it dawned on me I haven't done a clean since this new "results" display was implemented, and that answer was simply wrong.

I think the naming convention has very little to do with logic here. For some bizarre reason with this new summary screen, they seemingly decided to call all files removed tracking files, while the junk section is simply the size of all the files removed and are labeled unnecessary, which, well that last bit at least makes sense.

The point is, the number of "tracking files" removed seems to correlate with simply the total number of files removed, they may or may not be tracking files in any real sense of the word, other than I suppose if you stretch logic one could make the argument that all files are tracking since they happen to show something about your computer & potentially you.

I do think it's a terrible idea to label them this way, but essentially it's just a scummy way of saying total files removed. I say scummy because in my mind, it reeks of some warped marketing idea to attempt to create FUD (Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt), and is the sort of thing I'd expect from many PUP's (Potentially Unwanted Programs) which use scare tactics, to get you to buy/install their software, but for reasons unknown to me they decided to go this way with ccleaner, and I'll admit it doesn't sit well with me.

TLDR - "Tracking Files Removed" seems to be the new marketing buzzword for "Files Removed".

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Thanks for your input on this topic Noesis, nukecad and RobertK, very much appreciated.

Just as long as CCleaner remains 'Independent' from outside forces, as is mentioned in that email response I posted above, that will be great.

I have been using CCleaner since the turn of the century, without any issues at all, which is why I purchased the Pro version. They are a great team at Piriform

and I for one would hate to see them swallowed up in any sort of 'hostile' take-over.

Had to come back and apologise for leaving out two other contributors to this thread; Stephen Piriform and Noesis. Thank you too guys.:wub:

 

 

Edited by Palebushman
Correct a serious omission.

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I didn’t see/read the answer I was hoping for.

I ran CClean Professional

Response:

1,234 tracking files removed; x amount of file space

I ran it again:

86 tracking files removed; xx amount of free space

I ran it again:

3 tracking files removed; xx amount of free space

Why did I have to run and rerun the cleaner to get all of the tracking files removed?

Why didn’t it clean all the tracking files the first time around?

Maybe government tracking files only get cleaned if you run it four (4) time in a row?

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13 minutes ago, tdixon said:

I didn’t see/read the answer I was hoping for.

I ran CClean Professional

Response:

1,234 tracking files removed; x amount of file space

I ran it again:

86 tracking files removed; xx amount of free space

I ran it again:

3 tracking files removed; xx amount of free space

Why did I have to run and rerun the cleaner to get all of the tracking files removed?

Why didn’t it clean all the tracking files the first time around?

Maybe government tracking files only get cleaned if you run it four (4) time in a row?

This is essentially the question I started with though I was more concerned with the designation 'Tracking files'. The latter point has been answered (the word 'Tracking' is not to be taken literally) but not the point about finding files remaining when one runs the program several times.

It seems to me that there are two possible answers. The first, and less likely, is that between runs of Ccleaner, new (Tracking) files are being created (how? and by whom?). The second is that Ccleaner does not delete all of these files but only a proportion of them on each run. That seems to me the more likely but I hope some clever soul will find a way to prove or disprove it. If this is so, then why is it so?

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10 minutes ago, RobertK said:

This is essentially the question I started with though I was more concerned with the designation 'Tracking files'. .,,. The second is that Ccleaner does not delete all of these files but only a proportion of them on each run. That seems to me the more likely but I hope some clever soul will find a way to prove or disprove it. If this is so, then why is it so?

I accept the latter and having said that,  why doesn't the cleaner clean them all the first time around? I am sure that when other users run the tracking clean function they believe all is cleaned and do not run it again and again

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Sorry, was looking at the designation 'Tracking Files' as being the important question.

As to CC finding new things just after a previous run, your first answer was the correct one. They are the same files you have just deleted.

Some of the files that get deleted are Windows (and other) files, that get recreated straight away when you delete them.
Others take a while longer to get recreated, it depends just what is running at the time. (Which is why you see different numbers of new files).
Your computer is using and creating temporary files all the time.

These files are created as empty 'storage' and 'fill up' with information as you use your computer.
Rather than trying to edit these and delete any contents, it's simpler just to delete the whole file and let Windows create a new, empty, one.
So when you run CC again it finds and deletes these files again even though they are empty.

Think of it like someone putting an empty box on your desk and then coming back and putting notes inside it; you throw the box away getting rid of the notes and they immediately put new empty box in its place, you throw that away and they immediately put a new ..............

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6 hours ago, nukecad said:

Sorry, was looking at the designation 'Tracking Files' as being the important question.

As to CC finding new things just after a previous run, your first answer was the correct one. They are the same files you have just deleted.

Some of the files that get deleted are Windows (and other) files, that get recreated straight away when you delete them.
Others take a while longer to get recreated, it depends just what is running at the time. (Which is why you see different numbers of new files).
Your computer is using and creating temporary files all the time.

These files are created as empty 'storage' and 'fill up' with information as you use your computer.
Rather than trying to edit these and delete any contents, it's simpler just to delete the whole file and let Windows create a new, empty, one.
So when you run CC again it finds and deletes these files again even though they are empty.

Think of it like someone putting an empty box on your desk and then coming back and putting notes inside it; you throw the box away getting rid of the notes and they immediately put new empty box in its place, you throw that away and they immediately put a new ..............

Thanks for this explanation. I was about to put up a post saying that I was sure some of the files Ccleaner was reporting deleted had been recreated between runs becaue the same names kept reappearing, the main two being these:

Internet Explorer - Temporary Internet Files 5121KB
System - Windows Log Files                           1024KB

Well, for  me, that about wraps up the topic. It seems that you have to run Ccleaner several times to remove all of the unwanted files and that there will still be regenerated system files remaining at the end. I can live with that!

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9 hours ago, RobertK said:

Thanks for this explanation. I was about to put up a post saying that I was sure some of the files Ccleaner was reporting deleted had been recreated between runs becaue the same names kept reappearing, the main two being these:

Internet Explorer - Temporary Internet Files 5121KB
System - Windows Log Files                           1024KB

Well, for  me, that about wraps up the topic. It seems that you have to run Ccleaner several times to remove all of the unwanted files and that there will still be regenerated system files remaining at the end. I can live with that!

You show there one of the other ways that you can spot these 'empty' files that get created automatically - the byte size is always a multiple of 128 doubling up. These are binary multiples - 2, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, etc. Programmers, and computers, like binary multiples.
(To continue the metaphor - the higher the number the bigger the empty box someone has put on your desk).

Other files will usually be an 'odd' number of bytes not in that sequence, only as big as their contents need.

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If this is causing so much confusion and these files are not "Tracking Files" then Piriform should remove the labelling of files as such.
I think this is unethical and misleading; people have probably wasted much time trying to sort out this issue that Piriform/Avast is responsible for.
Piriform run the program themselves and must be aware of this issue.  What did the Piriform developers think people would understand when they see thousands of "Tracking Files" have been removed from their computers?  I am sure there are Piriform people reading these posts, why have they not given a complete and precise explanation of what is actually happening?  As for the image of the man in dark glasses, they are obviously trying to imply these, "Tracking Files" are something sinister.
Disgusted!

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2 hours ago, wombat1st said:

As your 1st post is only 2 hrs old, you could easily be forgiven for your tirade. The fact of the matter is, this thread had its last entry back on the 3rd of May, and most of us in here have accepted the explanations provided by those qualified in this matter. BTW and without going into details; Piriform is not part of Avast.;)

 

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20 hours ago, wombat1st said:

You could easily be forgiven for your ignorance.
 

Avast Buys Piriform, the Company Behind CCleaner and Recuva

https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/business/avast-buys-piriform-the-company-behind-ccleaner-and-recuva/

 

Your link, wombat1st is dated July 19, 2017.
Copied from an earlier post in this thread, I wrote the following:-
Back in October last year, I was more than a little concerned to see Avast and CCleaner in the same wrapping, mainly because my experiences with the Avast AV program has been far from a happy one. ( To check what had happened with the CCleaner 'take-over' I wrote to Piriform before deciding what to do with CCleaner.
Below is part of the email reply that I received from Piriform:-
Hi Dave,

Thank you for your email. I'm happy to say that Piriform is indeed a British company; we're headquarted in London as you can see on our website here: http://www.piriform.com/about/offices (the 'main US office' notation is due to the fact that we have a few very small satellite offices in the US, like mine, to try to help cover more time zones for support).

Please note that while we have joined with Avast's operations, we're still operated independently, and that there's no Avast code in our software, nor do we require the usage of their antivirus software. (We'll be happy to recommend it if someone asks for suggestions about antivirus software, of course, but that's about the extent of it.)
The last paragraph is pretty conclusive to me wombat1st.
My sincere apologies to you too, if you felt offended by my earlier reply to you, it was not intended. Engagement in that type of behaviour is not permitted in here.
 
 
 
 
 

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5 hours ago, mta said:

let's keep this civil gentleman.

My sincere apologies mta,  I was not my intention to appear uncivil or rude.

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