Like any computer, Windows PCs benefit from an occasional bout of physical and virtual cleaning. Here are some simple, easy–to-follow tips to give your trusted machine a new spring in its step.
Clean Up Your Hardware
clean them pretty easily with just a few household objectsclean them up with a magic eraser
You’ll also want to get inside your computer’s case and clean any dust out of the fans to keep everything running cool and quiet. We’ve shown you how to do this on a desktop before, and all you need is a little compressed air to do a pretty thorough job. Laptops, unfortunately, usually require a lot more work. You’ll have to refer to your computer’s instruction manual for more information on how to take it apart.
Tame Your Cable Clutter
simple cable shortening techniquesrain gutter methodslapping a couple of binder clips on your desk
Get Up To Date
Mac guideWindows 8’s Metro interface isn’t that greatspeed increases
Uninstall Unnecessary Apps
followed our advice about being conservative with the apps you installuse something like Revo Uninstallerde-crapify your printer or scanner setup
You might also want to take a look at your startup items in
msconfig and uncheck options you don’t need. This will decrease your computer’s boot time significantly, not to mention free up a few resources. If you’re having trouble deciding what to disable, we highly recommend checking out previously mentioned Soluto, which will help guide you through the process.
Reclaim Hard Drive Space
If you’re starting to run out of space on your drive, it’s time to take a really good look at what might be causing it. That means ditching Windows’ built-in Disk Cleanup app (which is fine, but probably won’t gain you a lot of space savings) and check out something like WinDirStat or Disk Space Fan. They will show you exactly what’s taking up so much space on your machine, organised by folder, file type, and more. Armed with that information, you can start deleting stuff you don’t need and getting some of that disk space back. For more information, check out our feature on how to analyse, clean out and free space on your hard drive.
Do Some Maintenance And Optimise Your System
CCleanerrun on a schedule so you don’t have to worry about it ever again
Apart from that, the only maintenance you need to do (besides the other things mentioned in this post) is keep your anti-virus program turned on and up to date. We recommend Microsoft Security Essentials: It’s good at killing viruses, and dead simple to use. But there are lots of other options out there.
Most users shouldn’t have to do much more than this — Windows 7 users don’t need to defragment, clean their registry, mess with Windows prefetching, or do anything else you’ve been told to do over the years. Check out our guide to Windows maintenance for more info.
Back Up Your Refreshed PC
we recommend setting up a bulletproof, offsite backup system with CrashPlan
Alternatively, you can always just back up to an external drive using the built-in Windows Backup — I personally use this to back up to my NAS — but we’d still recommend backing up your super-important files to something like Dropbox, since this won’t protect you from things like fires, earthquakes, drive failures or anything else that could destroy your backup.
Alternative: Do a Clean Install
really don’t have to
If you do want to do a clean install, then I highly recommend checking out how to customise your Windows installation with RT Se7en Lite and create the OS of your dreams. You can remove unnecessary Windows components, add Service Pack 1 to your installer, and even automatically install all your favourite apps in one fell swoop (you could always use something like Ninite, too). As you go through the process, be sure to check out our Lifehacker Pack for Windows to make sure you get all the essential apps installed on your new machine.
That’s all there is to it. Windows doesn’t need quite as much maintenance as it did in the old days, but there will always be a few things you can do from time to time to keep it clean and fast. Have any Windows cleaning tips we left out? Share them with us in the comments.