If you’ve spent sufficient time working or playing on a Windows PC, you’ve surely felt the sting that comes with firing up a computer and realizing that something is…off. The PC boots slowly. Apps take forever to launch. Files open at a snail’s pace. In years past, a third-party tune-up utility was a necessary tool for remedying PC performance issues. Now, Microsoft now ships the Windows 10 operating with numerous, capable, system-enhancing utilities.
Tune-Up Windows 10 With Windows 10
In terms of operation, Windows 10 is a superior operating system compared to Windows 8 and 7. That said, you still should run a tune-up utility to make sure that your PC runs at peak efficiency. A tune-up utility lets you defragment your hard drives (though, not solid-state drives), delete temporary and duplicate files, and controls the apps that launch when your PC boots. The result? Your PC will boot faster and run smoother.
Unfortunately, the tune-up tools are scattered across the operating system, lacking a centralized location. The fact that Windows 10 lacks a big Tune-Up My PC button that starts all the wheels turning is a knock against it. Still, the tools are all there, if you’re willing to dig for them (don’t worry, we’ll show you how).
Note: Microsoft doesn’t recommend that you use tune-up utilities to tweak Windows 10, as those programs tweak the registry. That’s a no-no in Redmond’s eyes.
Windows 10 vs. Third-Party Tune-Up Apps
One undeniable strength of third-party tune-up utilities is their ability to perform several system actions from within one easily negotiable interface—often with just a single mouse-click. Iolo System Mechanic, for example, lets you click a single icon to get the system-cleaning process started. Windows 10 lacks the one-click, tune-up button that Iolo System Mechanic and so many other tune-up utilities use to quickly clean up your PC.
In addition, tune-up utilities frequently include file shredders that permanently delete your unwanted data, though there are plenty of free and paid file shredders that perform the same action. Program uninstallers and driver updaters, which are also bundled in some tune-up utilities, can also be purchased as standalone software from Ashampoo and IObit. Windows 10 has file-deletion programs, but it’s hidden in the system. Again, third-party tune-up utilities have the benefit of gathering everything into one central location.
That said, Windows 10’s tools are free, unlike many third-party tune-up apps that charge a one-time free (and, depending on the app, demand a monthly subscription). Considering that Windows 10’s tune-up tools are free and quite capable, they’re attractive apps.
In fact, we suggest using them instead of third-party apps. There are two reasons for this. The first is that we no longer suffered lethargic PC performance after activating Windows 10’s tune-up tools. It’s a set and forget experience. The second reason involves computer safety. Windows 10’s tools never harmed our testbeds, but we’ve experienced boot issues with third-party tune-up utilities. Naturally, your mileage may vary.
Clean Up Windows 10 Now, Here’s How
If you don’t mind exploring Windows’ many PC-improving options on your own, you may not need to download a tune-up utility. If you’re well-versed in Windows 10, you’ll know precisely where to go. If you’re a Windows 10 novice, the tips below will put you on the healthy PC path. Happy cleaning.
Fire Up the Disk Defragmenter
Over time, the data on a hard drive disk (HDD) scatters across the storage device, thus increasing load times. As a result, defragmenting your PC’s hard drive disk—the act of bringing those data bits closer together—is an essential task. Fortunately, Windows 10 has a tool that lets you do that with ease.
You launch Windows 10’s disk defrag app by typing “defrag” into the taskbar search box and clicking Defragment and Optimize Drives. Once that window is open, select the drive (or drives!) that you wish to defrag and click Analyze. The tool then scans your PC’s HDD and display the fragmentation percentage. After that, click Optimize to begin the repair process.
If you wish to defrag your PCs hard drive on a regular basis, click the window’s Change Settings option. That enables your PC to automatically run the drive optimizer on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
Note: There’s no need to defrag a solid-state drive (SSD). In fact, Windows 10 doesn’t let you analyze and defragment those storage drives. Windows 10 optimizes SSDs to the extent of making sure deleted data has been removed to free up more storage.
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Activate Storage Sense
Storage Sense is a feature that’s deactivated by default, but if you want to keep your Windows 10 machine in tip-top shape, you should turn it on right now. Storage Sense automatically deletes unimportant files, such as items in the Recycle Bin and temporary files, when your PC is low on storage space. So, once you set it, you can forget it.
You can find the option by keying the word “storage” into the Windows 10 taskbar search box and selecting the System Settings > Storage result that appears. You can even select how often Windows 10 runs Storage Sense by clicking the Change How We Free Up Space Automatically option on the Storage home screen. In our experience, it finds more junk than Windows Disk Cleanup option, a feature that’s now considered a legacy tool.
In addition, if you want to immediately dump those files, click the Free Up Space Now option on the Storage home screen.
Control When Apps Launch With Task Manager
Windows 10’s streamlined Task Manager, activated by keying the app’s name into the desktop search engine or by pressing Ctrl-Shift-Esc, lets you control the apps that boot at launch. Once Task Manager is open, select the Startup tab, click an app, and then click Disable. This is one of the most effective ways to decrease your PC’s boot time, as nearly every app will want to launch when you press the power button. Don’t fret, however; even if you disable a virtual private network from launching at startup, you can launch the VPN at any other time.
We recommend sorting the Startup apps by their system impact and disabling the ones marked as High (unless you use them frequently enough that it’s worth the wait, of course). On the flip slide, cloud storage services, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive, should run at startup, so your files will stay synced.
In addition, you should launch System Configuration to double check that the items you’ve de-selected aren’t starting up. You see, some applications have an auto-updater or another component that continues to launch in the background after your PC boots. After you open System Configuration by keying its name into the desktop taskbar, click the Services tab and uncheck non-system entries that are from apps you don’t use.
Run Anti-Malware Software
One of the risks of visiting a less than scrupulous website or downloading freeware is the installation of potentially unwanted programs—PUPs for short. These malware apps may not be overtly malicious, but they can negatively impact your PC’s performance or prove incredibly difficult to remove. In such cases, you should install Malwarebytes Free, an app that digs deep and remedies issues caused by malware that got by your antivirus app.
That’s Just the Start
There are many ways to improve the performance of your Windows PC beyond what’s noted here. For more PC-enhancing tricks, check out 10 Tips to Speed Up Windows 10, How to Rid a New PC of Crapware, and How to Update Your Drivers in Windows.