Introduction: Cleaning Up Your Windows 10 PC

(Note: this is for a course at my university, so I apologize for any redundancies.)

Whether you've just upgraded your operating system to Windows 10, or you've had it around for a while, there are many steps that you can take to improve the speed and storage space of your computer at any time.

Step 1: Disk Cleanup Utility

The programs that you use on a daily basis require space on your hard drive in order to function properly. Often times, they don't delete old files that they no longer need. As such, they might take up more space than they really need. That's where the Disk Cleanup utility comes in to play.

To access this utility...

  1. Open your Windows Menu in the lower left of your screen.
  2. Type "Disk Cleanup" and launch the program that pops up in the results.
  3. You will be presented with the option to choose your disk if you have more than one. Choose the disk you wish to clean up and hit "Ok".
  4. Next, a screen similar to the one linked in these instructions will be shown. You may select/deselect any number of these options, but please note that anything you delete will be gone permanently.
  5. Clicking "Clean up system files" will also enable you to safely delete additional files, usually from error dumps or files from previous versions of the operating system.
  6. Once you have selected everything you wish to delete, hit "Ok" and let the computer do the rest.

Step 2: Optimize and Defragment Your Drives

If you have a hard disk drive, fragmentation of the data it stores can and will cause slow downs. By defragmenting your hard drive, the computer organizes the storage of the data to be more efficient in retrieval. This is surprisingly easy to execute and even automatic.

To defragment and optimize your drives:

  1. Search "Defragment and Optimize Drives" in the windows search bar and launch the top result.
  2. Once the application opens, you will see a window similar to the one above. Selecting any of the listed drives will allow you to Analyze your disk (check for defragmentation problems) and to Optimize the disk (actually defragments the disk). Both of these may take a few minutes for your computer to complete and will temporarily slow down your computer, so bear that in mind.
  3. You may also choose to schedule optimization, which I highly recommend. What this does is has your computer automatically analyze and optimize your computer every set interval and at a time where your computer is not being heavily used.
  4. Click "Ok" to apply any of these settings.

Step 3: Other Tips

  • Install Ad-Blockers for your web browser of choice. For every ad that loads, that consumes more resources.
  • Scan your computer for viruses - Make sure that you don't have any viruses running in the background that will slow it down!
  • Only have one anti-virus - Having two anti-virus programs causes them to slow each other and the machine they operate on down.
  • Install recent updates - Windows 10 receives free updates on a daily basis. Make sure you periodically reboot your computer to ensure that they get installed.
  • Re-install your Operating System - Windows is known for suffering from decreased performance with age. A good trick to countering this is re-installing the entire operating system every year or so. Make sure to back up your documents, first!