(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
Click on ‘Update & Security’:
Then ‘Check for updates’:
Windows 10 will check for and install any required updates:
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:
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.)
The Security at a glance page shows the different protected areas. Click on Virus & threat protection:
Click the Check for updates link at the bottom of the window.
When the updates have finished downloading, run a scan by clicking `Quick scan.’
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:
Then you will see Microsoft Store on the list of best matches:
With Store highlighted in the list, click it, or press Enter on your keyboard to open the Store app.
Within the Store app and as shown above, click on your user icon and choose Downloads and updates:
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.)
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.’
Then click on Apps & features listed in the Best match list.
Via Windows Settings:
Press the Windows key + I to open the Settings.
Then click on Control Panel listed in the Best match list.
Within the Control Panel, click on the Programs and Features option to open Programs and Features:
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.
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:
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.
6. Disk Cleanup / Storage
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
As shown above, locate your storage drives and right-click one, and choose Properties. Then click on Disk Cleanup:
Windows will then check and create a list of what you can remove from that drive:
From here, you can select any items in the list, click OK, and Windows will ask you if you are sure:
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:
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:
Click Delete Files:
And Windows will delete the data and clean up your drive:
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
Then click on ‘System’:
Then click on ‘Storage’:
From the Storage screen, you can tell Windows how to manage and clean up your storage.
Clicking on one of the local storage drives will open its storage usage page:
You can click then click on the different listings to get more information.
Clicking on Temporary files, for example, opens up the following screen:
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.
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:
Then you will see Defragment and Optimize Drives in the list of best matches:
With Defragment and Optimize Drives highlighted in the list, click it or press Enter on your keyboard to open the Optimize Drives app.
From here, you can choose a drive and Analyze its status and Optimize it.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
Please see the Computer maintenance page for maintenance tips, which include the use of third-party apps.
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.