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Easy Windows 10 Maintenance

a computer technician

(Using the Built-in Tools)

If your computer is starting to feel slow or sluggish, following these easy Windows 10 maintenance tips will help you get it running smoothly again. These are maintenance tips using only Windows 10’s built-in tools. For maintenance tips, including the use of third-party apps, see Computer Maintenance. Remember to keep Windows 10, your security, and your apps up to date.

1. Run Windows Update

As long as you are online, Windows 10 and Windows Security should update automatically via Windows Update. To run Windows Update manually, do the following:

Press the keyboard shortcut Windows key + I to open the Settings.

Windows + I – Settings
Windows key (Windows 10)plusI

Windows 10 Settings screen

Click on ‘Update & Security’:

Update and Security option via Settings screen

Then ‘Check for updates’:

Check for updates button

Windows 10 will check for and install any required updates:

Windows Update status screen


2. Check Windows Security is up to date

(If you followed step 1, you don’t need to do this step 2 as Windows Security should automatically update Windows. However, this step will show you how to check that Windows Security is up to date.) You can install a different free security app for Windows or a paid security app, of course, if you choose.

To open Windows Security, do the following:

Press the Windows key on your keyboard or click the Start Menu icon to open the Start Menu, and type security:

Search for Security

Then you will see Windows Security in the list of best matches. With Windows Security highlighted in the list, click it, or press Enter on your keyboard to open the Windows Security app. (You can also see links to Windows Security Protection areas listed on the right-hand side.)

Windows Security - Best match

The Security at a glance page shows the different protected areas. Click on Virus & threat protection:

Windows Security - Security at a glance

Click the Check for updates link at the bottom of the window.

Windows Security - Check for updates

When the updates have finished downloading, run a scan by clicking `Quick scan.’

Windows Security - Virus and threat protection

Please note that Windows Security updates with Windows Update.

(Another way to find Windows Security is by pressing the keyboard shortcut Windows key + I to open the Settings. Then click on Update & Security – Windows Security.)


3. Check that your Microsoft Store apps are up to date

As with Windows Update, Windows 10 should automatically keep your Microsoft Store apps up to date as long as you are online. But you can manually check and update them if you wish.

To check your Store apps, do the following:

Press the Windows key on your keyboard or click the Start Menu icon to open the Start Menu, and type Store:

Search for store

Then you will see Microsoft Store on the list of best matches:

Microsoft Store Best Match

With Store highlighted in the list, click it, or press Enter on your keyboard to open the Store app.

Store app showing download and updates option in pull-down menu

Within the Store app and as shown above, click on your user icon and choose Downloads and updates:

Downloads and updates app list

On the Downloads and updates page, press Check for updates to look for updates to your Windows Store apps. From there, you can manually update any apps. (These apps are also updated automatically by Windows.)

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4. Uninstall old and unused apps

It may help you to uninstall any third-party apps which you don’t need or expect to use. These apps can take up space, use up resources, and make your Windows device less secure if they are not updated. (Please see Computer maintenance for tips on keeping third-party apps up to date.)

There are two easy ways to find the apps installed on your device:

Via the Start Menu:

Press the Windows key and type `apps.’

Press Windows key and type `apps'

Then click on Apps & features listed in the Best match list.

From the Apps & features screen, you can click on and uninstall any apps you don’t need or foresee yourself using.
Apps and features page

Via Windows Settings:

Press the Windows key + I to open the Settings.

Windows + I – Settings
Windows key (Windows 10)plusIWindows Settings screenThen click on ‘Apps‘ to access the Apps & features page (as above).

An older way to see your installed apps (which is still available for now) is via the Control Panel: Press the Windows key and type `control panel.’Press Windows key and type `control panel'

Then click on Control Panel listed in the Best match list.

Windows 10 Control Panel

Within the Control Panel, click on the Programs and Features option to open Programs and Features:

Programs and Features Windows 10

You can select a program from the Programs and Features page and choose the uninstall option to uninstall that app if you don’t want or need it.

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5. Empty the Recycle Bin

Deleting a file within Windows doesn’t remove it from your hard drive – until you empty the Recycle bin. To do this, right-click the recycle bin icon on your desktop:

Recycle Bin right-click menu - Empty Recycle Bin

Then choose ‘Empty Recycle Bin.’ Then select ‘Yes.’
(You might want to press Open to check the contents of the Recycle Bin before you empty it.) Emptying the recycle bin is a straightforward tip, but it will help free up space on your drives.

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6. Disk Cleanup / Storage

(Original method.)

Let’s check our storage drives and see if we can remove any junk on them and create space:

Press the Windows key + E to open File Explorer

Windows + E – Open File Explorer
Windows key (Windows 10) - Keyboard Shortcuts for WindowsplusEWindows key + E - Open File Explorer

File Explorer

As shown above, locate your storage drives and right-click one, and choose Properties. Then click on Disk Cleanup:

Disk Cleanup - Calculating disk space

Windows will then check and create a list of what you can remove from that drive:

List of safe to remove files

From here, you can select any items in the list, click OK, and Windows will ask you if you are sure:

Are you sure you want to delete these files?

If you are sure, then you can go ahead and delete the files.

Clean up system files

You might have noticed the Cleanup system files option:

Clean up system files button

Clicking Clean up system files does the same thing as before, but any unnecessary system and installation files will also be listed. Removing these files will undoubtedly help you to create more disk space:

Select the files:

Disk Cleanup for C showing amount of disk space you gain

Click Delete Files:

Are you sure you want to delete these files?

And Windows will delete the data and clean up your drive:

Cleaning up files..

Storage Cleanup Settings

Since the Windows 10 Creators Update, there are a few other ways to manage your storage cleanup settings.

Press the Windows key + I to open the Settings.

Windows + I – Settings
Windows key (Windows 10)plusI

Then click on ‘System’:

System option via Settings screen

Then click on ‘Storage’:

Settings - Storage option

From the Storage screen, you can tell Windows how to manage and clean up your storage.

Storage screen - Local storage (in Windows 10 Creators Update)

Clicking on one of the local storage drives will open its storage usage page:

Strorage Usage (Windows 10 Creators Update)

You can click then click on the different listings to get more information.

Clicking on Temporary files, for example, opens up the following screen:

Temporary files screen - Remove temporary files options

Here we can manually select which items we’d like to remove to free up disk space permanently.

Back on the Storage page above (3 images up), we have the ‘Change how we free up space’ option:

From here, you can tell Windows to automatically delete temporary files and empty the recycle bin every 30 days.

Change how we free up space options

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7. Check drives are optimized

By default, Windows 10 should optimize your drives. Optimization defragments traditional hard drives or triggers Trim for SSDs.

Here’s how to check or do it manually using the Optimize Drives app:

Press the Windows key on your keyboard or click the Start Menu icon to open the Start Menu, and type Optimize:

Search for Optimize

Then you will see Defragment and Optimize Drives in the list of best matches:

Best match - Optimize

With Defragment and Optimize Drives highlighted in the list, click it or press Enter on your keyboard to open the Optimize Drives app.

Optimize Drives - Windows 10 maintenance

From here, you can choose a drive and Analyze its status and Optimize it.

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8. Clean your computer, dust filters, and inside your case

Some people forget that dust, fluff and animal fur, etc., can get inside the computer case. Over time, this dirt builds up and sticks to dust filters, fan blades, heatsinks, vents, breather holes, and most other things, causing the computer to overheat from lack of airflow.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to periodically clean inside and around your computer case to keep everything neat and dust-free. Better airflow will keep the computer and its components cooler.

For Desktop PCs:

Switch off and unplug your PC. Open the case (usually by taking off a side or top panel). Try not to touch electrical components inside the computer case in case you accidentally damage them from any static electricity you have in your body (from carpet, clothes, etc.). To minimize this possibility, touch the metal frame of your case to discharge any static you might have or wear an anti-static wrist strap.

Then vacuum out your case. Wipe and vacuum close to all fans and stationary heatsinks. Gently wipe all fan blades, too, if you can access them, and you can check that they can spin freely.

For Laptop PCs:

Switch off and unplug your laptop. Vacuum all of the vents or breather holes to remove as much dust and dirt as you can.

When you use your laptop, make sure you use it on a hard flat surface, as opposed to a carpet, so that air can easily flow underneath and up into the vents to keep it cool.

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(9) Windows Recovery – Reset this PC

Quite an advanced Windows 10 maintenance tip – so please back up your relevant data to a separate USB drive or an external and then disconnected storage device.

If you’re having problems with Windows and prefer to start all over again, you can reset the PC or Windows device via the Windows Settings – Recovery option. Resetting is similar to completely reinstalling Windows, so be careful when choosing this option. Before using Recovery, it’s recommended that you back up (save) any essential files to a separate storage device for safekeeping first, if you can.

To access Recovery, go to Windows Settings – Update & Security – Recovery.

Windows Recovery - Windows 10 maintenance

Reset this PC

Clicking the above Reset this PC – Get started option will give you the choice of resetting your PC while keeping your data or resetting your PC while removing your data. Both options remove your apps and Windows settings.

Reset this PC - Windows 10 maintenance

If you choose to go ahead with one of these Recovery options, follow the steps, and Windows will reinstall and recover itself. From there, you will need to reinstall your apps again if you need them and set up some settings in Windows.

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Final thoughts

These Windows maintenance tips should especially help you if your computer is old or feeling slow or sluggish. There are a few general rules to follow. Keep your PC clean inside and out. Keep Windows and installed software up to date. Remove unnecessary apps to create space. Be careful of clicking on links included with any email spam or junk mail. Consider using a second opinion anti-malware app to look for and remove malware.

Nowadays, Windows does an excellent job with automatic maintenance. However, if your device seems to be running slowly, following some of these maintenance tips should help.

See also:

Please see the Computer maintenance page for maintenance tips, which include the use of third-party apps.

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Extra Microsoft Security Options

Here are two less-known Microsoft security tools in/for Windows 10.

a. Malicious Software Removal Tool

Once a month, Windows Update automatically downloads, installs and runs an anti-malware scanner called Malicious Software Removal Tool. If you’d like to run the manual version of this tool, see my guide on the Malicious Software Removal Tool page.

b. Microsoft Safety Scanner

Very similar to the Malicious Software Removal Tool, Microsoft also has Microsoft Safety Scanner.
To find out more, see my guide on the Microsoft Safety Scanner page.

Microsoft Security Update Guide

Microsoft keeps an online guide of the latest Windows security updates at its Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC).

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