Over time, your PC can accumulate a lot of digital detritus which may cause some slowdown in your machine. If you’re experiencing longer startup times, slow loading of web pages, delayed program launch, and sluggish file retrieval, your PC probably needs to be decluttered. Although the current version of Windows does a bit of its own housecleaning, there are several ways to boost performance and keep your PC running at optimal speed.
You can do a Marie Kondo on your machine using the built-in tools in Windows so that it will spark joy once again in no time. We’ve broken it down into several steps.
1) Optimize Startup
Unnecessary apps and programs loading during startup contribute to the overall slowdown in the bootup process. You can limit the number of apps during startup and only allow essential programs and processes during bootup. To access the Startup tab in Windows, Press CTRL + ALT + DEL then select Task Manager. Go to the Startup tab and highlight an app. Click on Disable to stop the app from loading during startup. Note that you may need to leave some essential apps to run such as the system audio and anti-virus in order to keep them working.
2) Virus and Malware Cleanup
Windows 10 already has a built-in anti-virus and malware program called Windows Defender. To make sure it is running and properly updated, scroll through your programs list under the Start button and click on Windows Defender Security Center. It should inform you that your PC is being protected. To check if Windows Defender is updated, go to Virus and Threat protection and click on Protection Updates and click on Check for Updates. Click the back arrow and go to Virus & Threat Protection settings. Make sure that Real-time protection, and Cloud-based protection are on. You can also perform a Quick scan to make sure your there are no threats to your PC.
3) Remove Shovelware and Bloatware
Although your PC may come with freebies, you may find that some of them are just unnecessary crapware. Your PC maker may have struck a deal with these software companies and you’re getting the short end of that deal. To take back your computer, go to the Start button and click on the Settings icon above the Power button. Go to Apps. Under Apps & Features, you’ll find a list of all the apps installed on your PC. Depending on how much you install apps, you may find that there are programs that you don’t use anymore or ones that you don’t use at all. Click on the program or app and click on Uninstall.
4) Drive Cleanup
There are several ways you can do this. First is the manual method. Go to your main drives and see what folders you can either delete or move to an external backup drive. Be careful when sorting through your files since you may unintentionally delete them. If the files are too big, you may not be able to recover them anymore. When copying to an external drive, make sure the number of files are the same as the source files. If you have cloud storage, you can also move your files there. If possible, your important files should be backed up to at least two cloud locations and one local external drive. For auto backups, you can set your cloud storage to mirror your local drive. For Google Drive users, log in to your account and click on Settings and go to Download Backup and Sync. Once the app is installed, you can select which local folders can be backed up to Google Drive.
5) Defrag and Disc Cleanup
From the Windows Start button, go to the programs list and go to Windows Administrative Tools and select Defragment and Optimize Drives. You will see a list of drives that the tool can analyze and optimize. The tool will also show you the level of fragmentation for each drive.
Select the drive and press Optimize. Continue doing this until all drives are optimized. If you want to automate the process, you can schedule optimization by clicking on Change Settings. From here you can select a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule. You can also select what drives to optimize. Under Windows Administrative Tools, you can also initiate a disc cleanup. Select Disc Clean up and select the drive to clean.
This step is only recommended for computers with persistent problems after all the previous optimization steps have been taken. We recommend that you do this only as a last resort since you will need to reinstall your apps and you may lose your settings. Before you proceed with this step, it is also recommended that you backup your files to the cloud and external storage. Go to the Start button and click on the Settings icon. Select Recovery and under Reset This PC click Get Started. You are given options such as Keep my Files and Remove everything. The second option will reset your machine to factory settings and erase all your files. Before you proceed, make sure that you are plugged in and not on battery power if you are using a laptop. This procedure will require several minutes to complete.