Sunday , October 22 2017

Avast GrimeFighter (aka Cleanup): An app that actually does what it says, and cleans up your phone

avast grimefigher cleaner
Ausdroid, like the broader Android community, has typically been a little sceptical of products and services that have tried to make the jump from traditional desktop motifs to the mobile environment. Hot on the heels of a tour through Asia, Ausdroid caught up with Vince Steckler and Ondrej Vlček from Avast in Sydney yesterday for a bit of a chat about their mobile security and utility apps. Some things simply don’t translate from desktop to mobile too well, and anti-virus software has been a big cause of consternation. It’s this that we wanted to discuss with the guys and girls from Avast.

This distrust of such applications is likely due to early attempts to bring anti-virus to the mobile market. In the early days of smartphones (and to an extent, this remains true today) anti-virus truly was snake-oil on mobile devices. There wasn’t a need for it. Apple’s iOS (and Android, to a lesser extent) obviate the need for anti-virus due to the silos that each app operate in; put simply, one malware app can’t really affect anything else, or trash your phone.

These days, though, this isn’t quite so straight forward; those who would cause us harm have limited interest in getting into our mobiles, and far more so in getting us off them, and onto other things. Think about it. A hacker gets into your mobile, what does he get? Your contacts? Your SMS? That’s not nearly as lucrative as tricking you into handing over your internet banking details in a website that looks, seems (and for all practical intents) IS your internet banking site. That’s worth a lot more, and there’s malware out there doing precisely that.

It’s with this in mind that we decided to sit down with Vince and Ondrej to have a chat about what Avast is doing in Android, and what their value proposition is.

In this piece, we wanted to look at their Cleanup app, only because its perhaps the most surprising of the bunch. I’ll admit, I first thought it was bunkum. It seems, as with many things, first impressions can be wrong.

Avast Cleanup makes big promises, admits Vince. He says, with a straight face, that it can save between 500MB to 1GB of data on the average handset, and it can do so without impacting negatively on user experience. While we spoke, I had to try this out, and moments after installing, Cleanup told me it could automatically save me 620MB. I let it do its thing, and bam, it worked.

Some of the things that Cleanup removes include offline maps that Google has cached, cached music, copies upon copies of the same photo and more. That’s just in its automatic mode. Switch it over to the advanced cleaning mode, and you get a very powerful (much moreso than Android’s built in tools) view of where your limited storage space is being used up. You can instantly see large videos taking up room amongst your photo collection. If Facebook is taking up 500MB, you can instantly see that, and do something about it.

The beauty is in the simplicity. Vince likes to make clear that this is truly a one-click app for most users. I made the point that this app doesn’t do things that a user couldn’t otherwise do using other tools, a point that was happily conceded. It’s not that it does something you can’t. Vince points out that it does something that is otherwise tedious and annoying, and does it in a fraction of the time.

Better yet, Avast Cleaner helps automate other tasks which — for non-power users especially — can be a pain in the neck; moving photos and documents to the cloud?

Sure, most of Ausdroid’s readers probably know how to do this, and wouldn’t use a third party tool to do it. But what about our family and friends, you know the ones who ask us whenever we visit how to use “that Dropbox thing”? This tool lets them use that one, and makes it easier. Sadly the app doesn’t integrate with other cloud service providers just yet, such as Google Drive, but one has to begin somewhere.

Cleaner gives the non-power user access to other tools too, in the one place — you can uninstall apps here, in one click, as well as remove app data from apps you know are going to be using up quite a bit. Spotify is the example given, which readily caches offline music.

Avast Cleanup’s interface is nice and clean; it’s not material design by any stretch, but it’s clean and functional, and easy for anyone to pick up and understand. That I was able to install it, figure it out and make use of it while engaged in conversation speaks to the ease of use.

The best bit? Avast doesn’t sell the product. It’s free. It’s not advertising supported, there’s no in-app purchases. It’s just free. Some of Avast’s other products — Mobile Security & Antivirus, for example — do have premium, paid options, but Cleanup doesn’t.

Give it a try, and see what you think. When considering it, though, don’t look at it as a well-educated Android user, because you’ll come to the same conclusion as I did: you can do this fairly easily yourself without an app. Look at it from a somewhat novice smartphone user’s perspective, and think about what it allows that user to do.

 

Chris Rowland   Editor and Publisher

Chris publishes one of Australia's most popular technology websites, Ausdroid. His interests include mobile (of course), as well as connected technology and how it can make all our lives easier.

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10 Comments on "Avast GrimeFighter (aka Cleanup): An app that actually does what it says, and cleans up your phone"

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Sujay Vilash
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Sujay Vilash

Hi Chris, based on your comments, I installed AVAST! GrimeFighter. I was pleasantly surprised. The Auto mode said I had 450MB of crap that it could get rid of. Went ahead and cleaned and cannot report any adverse reaction performance wise. I then went into Advanced Mode, there a couple of apps that have major OBB files, apps that have installed but never used (e.g. Word for Android). What happens if I “clean” these OBB files?

Chris
Valued Guest

Pretty sure if you go removing OBB files you’ll break the app; they’re typically additional resources that are too big to fit in the APK for an app, but the app won’t run without them there (or will act unpredictably).

forgot69
Valued Guest
forgot69

I cannot recommend against installing Avast products enough after some of the shady, malware, crapware shenanigans this compan get involved in.
Big shame! The core engine is quite good. I used to be the biggest Avast fan and had it installed on all my family’s PCs. Never again!

Chris
Valued Guest
Avast made some mistakes in the past, something they freely admit. Their chief technology officer, who I met with and spoke to just yesterday, has discussed online some of the things Avast has tried in the past which haven’t worked so well, and which they’ve since abandoned. Compared to some of the mind-boggling junk that’s out there, Avast seems pretty clean by comparison. Their bundled software on desktop platforms is limited to offering to installing Dropbox. Dropbox, many would agree, is hardly ‘junk’, and something that a good many people use and enjoy, whether it’s come from a bundled install,… Read more »
TheBagging Man
Valued Guest
TheBagging Man

There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Whats the bet it works great and saves you space, couple months later your phone is laggy, you read a few forums and “people” in those forums recommend you purchase Avast Anti Virus. Just my 2 cents, never trust anything that is too good to be true and free.

Chris
Valued Guest
The old adage is probably true; if the product is free, then you’re the product. I have little doubt that Avast does obtain an advantage by having users install this — they get insight and intelligence on what apps people are using, what the storage patterns of those apps are, and this, in turn, benefits other users of the product down the line. This is how much online security software works these days, and it’s not surprising to see Avast leveraging that amassed intelligence, in the cloud, to benefit users. At the end of the day you’d have to imagine… Read more »
Pumpino
Valued Guest
Pumpino

I’ve used CCleaner on my handsets, but it doesn’t seem to remove that much. It performs better on a PC. I’ll give this app a try.

Pumpino
Valued Guest
Pumpino

Both apps offered to remove 62MB. I guess I’ll stick with CCleaner.

Member

I have always been sceptical about these types of applications, but looks like i’ll be giving this one a try! Thanks for the review.

Chris
Valued Guest

We wouldn’t write about it if we hadn’t tried it, and satisfied ourselves that it was safe and reasonable.

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