We’ve all been there. Automatic updates are on and have installed a whole bunch of junk that you don’t want, need, or understand. You’ve accidentally installed a load of freeware with other software. Or, perhaps like my father-in-law, you’ve uploaded and re-uploaded every single photo you’ve ever taken on your camera, and now your laptop is bursting with 70,000 photos. Yes, 70,000. You’ve never cleared temporary files. You’ve downloaded oodles of “exciting” games, only to find they are “meh”, then you’ve closed them down and forgotten all about them. Or you’ve got tonnes of bloatware. Or somehow, your system has been infiltrated by malware that your security software just can’t deal with. It happens. To all of us. And there are a few simple steps you can take on Windows 10 to make your computer work like new again.
Clear Out the Junk
There will undoubtedly be a whole range of programs and apps that you’ve installed – or that came pre-installed on your system that you just don’t use. You’ll most likely see items on there that you’ve completely forgotten you ever installed. Unused programs and apps, and those that automatically run in the background take up space and slow down your system, so one of the easiest and earliest steps you should take to improve the performance of your Windows 10 computer is to clear out the junk. You’ve got a couple of options. To remove apps and/or programs quickly, simply hit the Windows button, go to your start menu, right-click on the app you want to remove, then hit “uninstall”. It’s really that simple.
If you want more detail or greater control over your installed applications, follow these directions:
- Hit the Windows key
- Go to the start menu
- Choose “Settings”
- Choose “System”
- Choose “Apps & Features”
You’ll then be faced with a list of all the apps and desktop programs installed on your system. Simply right-click on the item you want to ditch, hit “uninstall”, and follow the wizard.
If you’re feeling old-school and you only want to remove desktop programs, you can also go the traditional route and use the Control Panel option.
Check out this video for an easy walkthrough:
Do Some Routine Cleanup
A junk file cleaner is a useful tool and helps to identify and eliminate files that aren’t necessary. We should run this kind of software on a regular basis to keep our computers in tip-top shape. If you haven’t done this before, you’ll likely be surprised at how much junk the software finds. You can use Windows 10’s own Disk Cleanup or go for something like CCleaner by Majorgeeks. The Windows 10 Disk Cleanup utility is really easy to use. Just follow these steps:
- From your desktop, click into the search box
- Type “disk cleanup”
- Select the correct app when it appears in the menu
- Let the utility work its magic.
- Once you get the dialog box with the first results appear, hit “Clean up system files”
- Wait while the utility performs a more thorough examination
- Select all the files you want to delete
- Click “OK”
- Click “Delete files” when the prompt appears
- Wait while the utility removes those files
Watch this walkthrough if you need a little more guidance:
Defragment Your Drive
Defragmenting your drive is a great way to make your computer feel faster. Basically, it sorts and stores files on the drive sequentially in such a way that your computer can access them faster. Like this:
- Head to the desktop search box and type “defrag”
- Select the “Defragment and optimize drives” option
- Select the drive you want to defragment
- Click “Optimize”
Remember that your system should automatically be set to defragment every week anyway, but this is still a worthwhile step if you’re having speed issues.
See this video for help:
Reset Windows 10
This option lets you get rid of everything (or everything apart from your personal files), and truly make your system feel like new. It’s like the old school Windows reinstallations that required boot disks and a whole lot of palaver. On Windows 10, this process is easy and effective and will literally make your system feel like new again. It’s a great option if none of the other steps have worked or you have malware that you can’t get rid of. Just remember that you will be faced with having to reinstall and reconfigure any programs and apps you want to keep, as the reset isn’t selective about what it removes. You can, however, ask the system to retain your personal files like movies, photos, word processing, and data files. As a precaution, however, we recommend putting copies of anything you want to keep in the cloud or on a backup drive. Just in case.
Once that’s done, you’re ready to begin.
- Hit the Windows button and go to “Settings”
- Select “Updates and Security”
- Choose “Recovery”
- Hit “Get started” under “Reset this PC”
- A box will pop up with two options. If you want to keep your personal files, select “Keep my files”, if you want to get rid of everything, choose “Remove everything”
- Let Windows work its magic. This may take a while
This video walks you through the process: