The night before your big presentation to a potential client, your laptop suddenly crashes and all the files you have been working on, the PowerPoint presentation, the Excel sheet with all the statistics and numbers, and the Word document with detailed documentation, everything is lost. Yes, we’ve all been there!
When was the last time you cleaned up your Windows? Probably never! It is an undeniable fact that most computer crashes occur due to hard drives that are fully crammed with data, from pictures to videos to apps and a lot more, most of which you will never really need and those that you don’t even know to exist. The more space your hard drive has available, the better will be your system’s performance. For this, you need to maintain your computer clean.
Having an almost full hard drive doesn’t necessarily mean you should purchase a new drive. Fortunately, with Windows, there are different ways you can optimize the space, and following are the 5 best and easy ways for the same.
Don’t Forget to Backup
Any computer or laptop owner would know that it is crucial to backup all the files and software in their system before working on it, which includes cleaning up Windows. It is up to you to use an external hard drive or a USB drive for the purpose; all you need to do is copy all the files and software you need from your computer and paste the same on the USB drive or hard drive.
5 Best Ways to Clean up Windows Easily
1. Delete Programs and Files You No Longer Need
Similar to how all of us have a junk drawer at home that has things that you never knew existed or totally forgot about owning the same, your computer will have programs, applications, and files that you no longer use. This could typically be anything: a software that came preinstalled with your system, an application that you downloaded once and completely forgot about or stopped using long ago, some games you only used the trial version of, and even files that are of no use to you anymore. These programs, files, and applications are only taking up your valuable hard drive space, which in turn deteriorates the performance of your computer. Therefore, the best solution would be to uninstall or remove them from your hard drive.
Here is how you can uninstall games and applications on Windows 10:
- Go to the Start menu.
- Select Settings 🡪 Apps.
- Choose the program or application you want to remove and select Uninstall.
- In order to remove any app you downloaded from the Microsoft Store, the process gets much simpler. Simply spot the app on the Start menu, right-click on it or press and hold the app, and then choose Uninstall.
Another effective option to uninstall programs is by sorting them based on their size and uninstalling those that occupy the most space on your hard drive. To do this:
- Go to the Start menu.
- Select Settings 🡪 Apps.
- Click on Apps & Features.
- Click on the Sort by option and choose Size from the drop-down menu. At the top of the list being displayed will be those programs that take up the most space on your system.
- Just choose a program you no longer need and then click Uninstall.
- Once again click on Uninstall from the box that appears.
Follow the same steps to uninstall more programs that you no longer need.
2. Move Files to the Cloud
When you remove files and programs that you no longer need, there will definitely be those that you wish to keep and will be useful to you, such as important personal documents, photos, videos, music, etc. Media files, especially, take up a lot of space in your hard drive, and therefore can still be a hindrance when it comes to making your computer perform at its best. But, you have an easy solution for the issue – move the files to the cloud.
In the case of cloud storage, as many of you would be aware, you will store the files you would like to keep on remote servers and access the same using the internet. There are so many different cloud service providers you can choose from; however, Microsoft OneDrive cloud service is one of the most common and widely used storage solutions for Windows.
One amazing feature of OneDrive is Files On-Demand. What this does is that it allows you to access all your files in the cloud without having to use up storage space on your Windows device by downloading them. With the Files On-Demand feature from OneDrive, you can:
- Files get saved as online-only files, enabling you to save storage space on your computer.
- Get all necessary information about your stored files, like if they are shared.
- Set your files to be available locally on your computer for easy access at all times.
To enable Files On-Demand:
- Click the OneDrive icon on your computer.
- Choose Settings from the drop-down box of the menu button.
- On the Settings tab, under File On-Demand, make sure the checkbox Save space and download files as you use them is enabled.
- Click Ok.
3. Find and Remove Duplicate Files
It is more than likely that your computer has gathered duplicate files over time, which, as their name suggests, are absolutely unnecessary for your system’s operation and performance. Therefore, finding and removing those files is another effective way to clean up Windows. However, unfortunately, Windows does not have an in-built effective way to remove these files, which is why you need a third party software for the same.
Once again, there are numerous options that you can use for this purpose. Some of the most popular and widely used software are Duplicate Cleaner, Duplicate Sweeper, Duplicate File Remover, and CCleaner. Of these, CCleaner is a free software that comes preinstalled in many computers. One benefit of CCleaner is that you can use just the Free version to get the job done. Here is how:
- Open CCleaner on your computer.
- Go to Tools available on the left.
- Click Duplicate Finder.
- Running the scan with all the default settings will do a fine job. However, if you wish, you can also change the settings.
- Next, choose the folder or drive you to want scan.
- Initiate the scan by clicking on the Search button.
- Very carefully select the files you wish to remove.
- Finish the removing process by clicking the Delete Selected button.
4. Stop Automatic Running of Programs at Startup
If you want your computer to perform better and faster, you don’t necessarily have to remove programs from it. An efficient alternative is to stop programs or applications from running automatically at startup, i.e., when you launch Windows. Of course, there will be certain programs you will need to access immediately after loading Windows or frequently when using your computer; however, there will be many programs that are set to start automatically at startup by default, which you may not need or maybe never use as well.
On Windows 10, you can stop this by following these steps:
- Click on the Start button.
- Go to Settings 🡪 Apps 🡪 Startup.
- Turn Off the programs or apps you don’t want to run automatically during startup.
For those of you who don’t have the Startup option in Settings:
- Right click on the Start button.
- Choose Task Manager.
- Click on the Startup tab.
- Choose the program you don’t want to run during startup and select Disable.
5. Use Disk Cleanup
Disk Cleanup is a built-in utility in Windows, which allows you to clear up space in your system’s hard drive by removing unwanted files from the same. You can delete both temporary files and system files using this utility.
To delete temporary files:
- Select Disk Cleanup from the taskbar. You may have to search it on the taskbar.
- Choose the drive you wish to clean up and then click Ok.
- The next step is to choose the types of files you want clean, and this can be done under Files to Delete.
- Click Ok.
For system files:
- Choose Disk Cleanup as mentioned above and then choose Clean up system files.
- Choose the types of files you want to clean.
- Click Ok.
If you wish to maintain your computer in its optimum condition (who wouldn’t?!), delivering good speeds at all times, there are certain cleanups you need to perform on a regular and periodic basis. Here are some tips:
On a Daily Basis
Perhaps the easiest way to keep your system clean is to clean the hard drive on a daily basis. So, before you shut your computer down at the end of the day:
- Delete all unnecessary emails and save only the important ones.
- Delete those files that you don’t need immediate access to. Use a USB drive to back up necessary files on a day-to-day basis.
- Delete web browser cache. This is something not many computer users are aware of. Cache files are basically small data files and images that get stored in your hard drive whenever you use your browser, and occupy a lot of storage space as well. Therefore, delete all the cache files, also known as Temporary Internet Files, regularly.
- One obvious step to keep your Windows clean is to empty the Recycle Bin regularly.
On a Weekly Basis
Allot a few minutes a week to carry out some maintenance tasks in order to tune up your hard drive and enhance the performance of your computer:
- Like any other hardware, since your hard drive also gets overused with time, it is important that you tune it up every now and then to prevent any sudden failure. In Windows, this can be done using the ScanDisk utility, the basic job of which is to assess the hard drive for errors and resolve the issue if any. You can also automate this tool to perform periodic checks.
- Since your computer is likely to already have antivirus software installed, all you need to do is keep it updated to prevent any new virus from overriding it and affecting your system.
- Another step to perform on a weekly basis is to remove any temporary files, and this can be done using the Disk Cleanup utility on Windows, as discussed earlier.
On a Monthly Basis
If you have never heard of defragmenting before, it is crucial to learn about it at least now. When data get saved on the hard drive, it doesn’t get done in an orderly fashion; instead, they get stored in pieces in any available space, with no organization whatsoever. As a result, numerous file fragments keep floating on the drive, which automatically makes it slower. By performing defragmentation of your hard drive, the data are arranged or organized as a block at the hard drive’s center, and this method not only frees up storage space for upcoming data but also makes it easier for you to find older data.
On a Quarterly Basis
Updating your hard drive and an operating system is highly important as well, and this has to be done at least on a quarterly basis. As you know, software makers keep releasing new upgrades every now and then, each of which comes with bug fixes to rectify any problems or errors found. By updating your operating system regularly, it enables your system to run more smoothly, in addition to introducing you to new features that might be of use to you. Moreover, such updates also often come with security enhancements, helping keep your system protected from different threats.
This is also the right frequency to remove programs, files, and applications from your system that you no longer need. Follow the steps given earlier to achieve the best results.
On a Half Yearly Basis
This half-yearly process is just to keep your system clean on the outside, which in turn keeps it performing well from the inside. Since your device will accumulate dust, dirt, pet hair, and so many other particles over time, which also get stuck to the keys, causing your system to overheat, use a proper cleaning kit to clean your computer thoroughly at least twice a year.