MacWasher 2.1

There has been an incredible amount of coverage in the media over the past year concerning personal-information security on the Internet. Not only were there concerns about privacy, but also how secure personal details are during day-to-day use of a computer.WebRoots’ MacWasher is just one of several tools that cleans out files that can compromise privacy.

The first security issue is the safety of your personal details while using the Internet or other network. The second arises if you share a workstation with someone else in your company. MacWasher will seek out and delete – or overwrite – potentially dangerous files.

Cached files
Every time you log on to a Web page, your browser gathers lots of tiny files that are hidden on your computer. Examples of these are cookies and cached files. Not only can these files clog up a computer, but they can also reveal which Web sites you’ve visited.

There’re some instances, especially at work, when this sort of info can be discovered, tracked and possibly abused by others. For example, anyone who uses online-banking facilities should be aware that checking an account online via a shared computer can be pretty dicey – especially if you forget to log out of the site properly, or don’t clear your browser cache. This can leave the door wide open for someone else to get back into your private account. Most online-banking sites provide full instructions on how to avoid any unwanted access, but MacWasher offers a fast and thorough route to avoiding any nasty surprises
in your next statement.

There are quite a few utilities that take the tedium out of rummaging around for files, but MacWasher offers more than just the ability to flush out these files manually every so often. Webroot claims MacWasher is a unique Internet-privacy tool, with more features than any other Web or file cleaner on the market, and it supports all the latest browsers. It will clean up the browser cache, your recent-documents files, recent applications, temporary-files folder, trash, AOL tracks and history.

Installing MacWasher is quick and simple, and there is also an Uninstall option. The user interface could be prettier, but it’s easy to understand.

Before washing a Mac for the first time, it’s advisable to go through all the options available so you keep the cookies you need for logging into your favourite sites. If you’ve never cleaned out your cookies before, you may find that there are loads of files to scroll through. It would be useful if this cleaning feature offered more information about each washable file as you select it. You must make the decision on whether to keep the cookie, or wash it off your Mac completely. Fortunately, you can simulate a wash before launching the real thing.

You can simulate a wash before performing the real thing. A simulated wash runs through the process of washing without actually deleting any files, letting you configure the setup beforehand. MacWasher also tells you how many files have been deleted, and how much disk space has been recovered.

MacWasher can also “bleach” files, which means it overwrites the file a set number of times with random characters. This prevents the file from being recovered by a different application.

The preferences in MacWasher can be set to either automatically wash all the files it recommends, or schedule it to AutoWash at a certain time of day. You can also choose to build your own custom wash cycle, which is a more streamlined option than a normal wash. Be warned, it’s easy to forget to keep cookies. Accidentally clearing cookies from your browser can mean re-registering with sites that require a user ID and password.

Setting MacWasher to automatically clear your cache is a good idea. This is because you then know for certain that you are receiving the very latest information from a server, and that your browser isn’t “lying” by displaying out-of-date content. A browser’s cache works by storing graphics and pages on the hard drive, and therefore speeding up Web browsing as there’s no need to repeatedly download the same data again and again. However, as with the History log in Explorer, this storing of sites can allow others to track your Web use.

OUR VERDICT

If you’re worried about privacy, or just want to avoid possible embarrassment at work, then MacWasher is a good buy – if only to put your mind at rest. MacWasher will certainly save you the trouble of trawling through, possibly, hundreds of different files in different applications and deleting them individually every day.

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