Intego Washing Machine 2014 review

Over a period of time, hard drives get clogged up with data that is no longer required. Duplicates, especially photos and music files, apps that haven’t been used for years, bloated caches and the remnants of long since trashed apps such as preferences and support files all take up space.

Large hard drives started to make this less of a problem but with the modern move towards smaller, solid-state drives, every gigabyte of space is important. While various individual apps can handle different aspects of data cleaning, an all-in-one solution would save time and effort.

Intego tells us Washing Machine 2014 is a complete rewrite from its predecessor, Washing Machine 2, with a brand-new user interface and a fresh approach.

Data is cleaned up via two ‘cycles’ (Reclaim and Duplicates) while the final ‘cycle’ (Organize) optimises your desktop. A click on the large ‘scan’ button starts off each cycle.

Reclaim starts the drum rolling by examining your hard drive for files you probably don’t need anymore. Caches, languages and logs are examined and reported on per app; unemptied trash and older download files are also checked. The resulting circular bar chart gives a clear picture of the current situation. Each individual item can be selected and there’s a three-position deletion criteria switch from ‘safe’ to ‘aggressive’.

A little care needs to be exercised before pressing the Reclaim ‘clean’ button. As logs are small files and useful for diagnosing crashes and other problems, there is an argument to leave them alone. Removing language files from some apps can lead to that app being rendered useless due to a perceived interference with copy protection. Fortunately, Washing Machine 2014 lets you deselect languages by app. As for caches, the larger ones usually belong to web browsers and can be erased from within these apps so this function is of limited use.

Delete caches, logs and unused languages though not all available files appear to show up.

Next up is Duplicates. Sorted into six categories, identical files can be handled individually or by specific criteria such as keeping earliest or latest files. However, the lack of QuickLook support makes it difficult to preview files.

The third feature, Organizer, seems a little out of place here in that it doesn’t offer a data-removal aspect – but it’s still useful. It tidies up your desktop by moving items to one of three places: the relevant sub-folders in your user account; a freshly-created archive folder on your desktop; or the trash. There are also options to tidy up your dock by usage and to create custom smart folders for the favourites list.

Getting rid of duplicates is easy but QuickLook support would help to preview files.

In testing, Washing Machine 2014 performed well though not perfectly. Most user caches reside in the ~/Library/Caches folder, and cache cleaners tend to eradicate almost all files and sub-folders in here. Washing Machine 2014 appears to clear only a select few. Similarly, not all additional language files were found. These two anomalies added up to over 1GB of data on my drive.

There are also some obvious missing features on the data-removal front including an uninstaller to get rid of orphaned files, and facilities to remove universal binaries and older files (aside from within the downloads folder).

Organizer cleans up a Mac’s desktop including sorting out the dock.

There’s a 30-day scan-only evaluation mode so try it and make up your own mind.

OUR VERDICT

While Washing Machine 2014 has an interesting take on data cleaning, this may be a case of style winning over substance. If Intego’s intention really is to increase your Mac’s speed and performance, it needs to include some additional tools. In comparison with Clean My Mac 2, it’s definitely a little feature-light.

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