Here are five easy ways to remove clutter from your PC and laptop and make it run more efficiently
A slow running PC or laptop can be very frustrating, especially productive ones.
One reason for a slow device can be that the hard drive is almost full, but it is very unlikely that you will need all the files that are large enough.
Luckily, Windows 10 has several built-in tools to help you get rid of clutter. Without further ado, here are five easy ways to clean your PC or laptop.
Clean your hard drive
Like any aging PC, data will fill the hard drive. This in turn slows down performance, because your PC has to go further and work harder to find files and programs that need to be accessed. This does not apply to SSDs, because they function differently, but if there is a hard drive that is really full (or almost full) Windows will not have the space needed to run properly. You should always try to have several empty gigabytes (ideally 10-20GB).
Removing as much trash as possible will help restore your device’s response. Windows has a built-in cleaning function to make more space: they do it by emptying the Recycle Bin, and deleting temporary and other files that you no longer need. Just type Disk Clean-up in the search box next to the Windows Start button.
Select the Disk Clean-up program at the top of the list, then select the drive that you want to repair. Disk Clean-up will now check the drive and give you options on which content to delete. As we said, it’s usually a mixture of downloaded, temporary, and other internet files in the Recycle Bin. Just check the check box to choose what you want to clean then click OK.
Remove programs that you don’t use or need
Next, delete all programs that you don’t use – again Windows has its own tool for this. Simply open the Windows Start Menu and look for Add or remove programs. Select the top option and you can then use it to sort the list of installed programs by size to quickly find the application that uses the most disk space.
If you see a program on the list that you no longer need, click there, then select the Uninstall option. Remember you want to delete only programs that you don’t use. If you are not sure what it is, delay until you can find out whether it is important or not.
It is not always possible to completely erase all traces of a program using Windows utilities. For this, you need a third party tool that can be a little deeper, so see our guide to the best free uninstaller program.
Defrag your hard drive
After you delete unnecessary files and programs from your PC, a good next step is to compress the remaining data so that your PC can access the data as efficiently as possible.
Defraging your hard drive is a way to speed up your PC or laptop in Windows – at least in principle. The idea is that when data is saved and saved back to the spinning disk on your hard drive, small packets of information are stored in random places throughout the disk. This then takes longer to read, when Windows calls your hard drive to find out information.
Defragmenting or compressing operating system data removes gaps between data packets, moving everything closer to the center of the disk. This in turn makes each hard drive access (and therefore running your PC) a little faster.
Don’t defrag if your PC has an SSD. Defragmenting an SSD doesn’t make sense because the technology is very different, so don’t do it!
In Windows 10 automatic defragmentation and your computer will sort itself out every week thanks to a scheduled task: Optimize Drives. So, if you haven’t changed any settings yet, you don’t need to defrag. But if you are not sure and you want to check the status – or manually defrag your drive, open Search and type Defragment. One result is Defragment and Optimize Drives. Choose this.
You will see a dialog that displays a list of hard drives on your PC or laptop, its media type, when it was last defragmented, and how fragmented it is. You really need to defragment only if the drive is more than 10 percent fragmented. If you cannot see the numbers in the Current status, to find out whether a particular drive needs to be optimized, highlight it and press Analyze. Then confirm your choice. This will update the current Status column.
If any of your drives are fragmented by 10 percent or more, highlight and press Optimize. Confirm your choice.
Stop the program from starting automatically
You don’t have to get rid of the program from your PC to speed it up. You can prevent them from loading automatically when you start Windows. Many programs default to starting with Windows so you don’t have to wait when you later want to use it. But some are really unnecessary and you might never use them.
Do you know how old your Windows PC is to boot? Removing the startup program will help.
To find the cause, you must open the Task Manager. So open the Windows Start Menu and type Task Manager, then select the Task Manager icon that appears or you just press Ctrl + Alt + Delete and select Task Manager.
After you open Task Manager, you must select the Start-up tab. It lists all programs that are launched together with Windows. It also tells you every app publisher, and its impact on startup performance that is listed as ‘low’, ‘high’ or ‘medium’.
Now click on the program that you don’t want to start with your PC, right-click, and select Deactivate. You can reverse this process at any time by clicking on an item and right-clicking, then selecting Activate.
Clean and manage your desktop
Finally, here are some tips to make your life easier when using Windows. They will help you find files and folders faster, regardless of the condition of your PC or laptop.
If you need to find the file in a hurry, enter its name in the Start menu Search box. With Windows 10 search is very good, because the box is in the task bar.
Keep document from desktop:
Documents must be stored in the relevant folder, not on the desktop. To ensure this happens, open File Explorer, open the Documents folder and create a new folder by right-clicking in some white space on the right and selecting New, then Folder. Named New Folder by default, you can rename your archive just by typing the highlighted text. Finally, drag-and-drop relevant files into your folder.
Remove unused shortcuts from the desktop – this will not uninstall the linked program, but this will help keep things neat and organized. Next, right-click on the desktop and select View> Automatic settings icon. This will force the remaining shortcuts to the neat grid on the left side of the screen.
Name the folder correctly:
You must be able to identify the contents of the file by name, without having to open it. Adding locations to vacation photo file names is a good example. It can also be useful for entering dates. If you have many similar files to rename, copy and paste general information into each file you renamed.
The keywords, which are visible when you right-click on a file and select Properties, make the file easier to find. In Word, open File> Properties, fill in the Keyword field and press Ok. For photos, tags are the same as keywords; click the Tag field at the bottom of the Windows Explorer panel to add it.
If nothing has the desired effect for your device, try some of the tips in our special guide on how to speed up Windows. As an alternative, here is our best collection of PC cleaning software.