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You’d be surprised at how quickly your computer can get clogged with unnecessary junk. Whether it’s outdated downloads, unused programs or just messy folder structures, keeping things neat and organised will give you peace of mind.

Some clean-up tasks can be performed automatically and others might need to be run as a one-off. Not only will you be able to free up space on your hard drive, but you may see performance enhancements and find your PC easier to navigate.

Please be sure to pop into the comment section afterwards and share your own tips on how we can stop our systems piling up with rubbish.

Removing Duplicate Files

Having duplicate data on your hard drive is just a waste of space. You might not even realise it’s on there. If you’ve got duplicate data on the same drive as an attempted backup plan Cobian Backup - The Best Backup a Windows Computer Can Get For Free [Windows] Cobian Backup - The Best Backup a Windows Computer Can Get For Free [Windows] Cobian Backup is a free backup software for Windows. It is crammed with featured, yet seems minimalistic at first glance. Users can create multiple backup tasks for different purposes, backups can be scheduled individually, back... Read More then that’s even worse. Backups need to be stored on other devices, otherwise they’re just plain useless.

On top of duplicates, you might also have data that is similar. This could take the form of text documents that differ only in a few lines or images that have minor alterations. Providing you don’t need these for version purposes, it’s time to give your drive a clean and tidy up your folders.

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We’ve previously written a guide on how to find and remove duplicate files Save Hard Drive Space By Finding And Removing Duplicate Files Save Hard Drive Space By Finding And Removing Duplicate Files Duplicate files come in a variety of flavors. In addition to exact copies of files, you may have very similar images, music files that contain the same song ripped from different sources, or text documents... Read More . A number of free programs offer you a quick and easy way to sort out the wheat from the chaff. Some are even capable of merging files together, ensuring that nothing is lost along the way.

Clear Out Your Browser

You are creating data and being tracked every time you visit a website, unless you’ve told your browser to behave otherwise. Amongst other information, cookies are used to store your preferences and your browser will track the sites you visit in order to create a list of all your history.

If you haven’t cleared this out, chances are that everything has been stored since you started using the browser. Over time that data can quickly add up and become a strain on your hard drive. Be sure to check out our guide in order to find out how to clear your browser history How To Manually & Automatically Clear Your Browser History How To Manually & Automatically Clear Your Browser History As you browse the Internet, tracks of websites you visit are left on your computer, including cookies, cached websites, a history of visited sites and searches, site preferences, and more. These data reveal your browsing... Read More .

That same guide will also detail how to set it up so that your history is deleted automatically when you close your browser. You may find that inconvenient, especially if you rely on your URL bar to find previous websites visited, but security-minded folk will appreciate it.

Uninstalling Programs

Have you ever gone through your installed programs and wondered why you installed some of them? If you can’t remember the last time you used them then it’s probably best that you uninstall them and clear some space. In fact, it might be that some of those programs are automatically launching on boot and slowing down your system.

There are a number of effective ways to remove programs How to Uninstall Programs on Windows 8 How to Uninstall Programs on Windows 8 Looking to get a particular program off your computer? Whether it's a desktop or a modern app, here's how to do that on Windows 8. Read More . Perform a system search for uninstall a program, select the relevant option and you’ll be taken to the built-in Windows facility. All you need to do is click a program on the list, press the Uninstall button and then follow the wizard. In order to get a better sense of what it might be good to remove, click the Installed On or Size column headers and work your way down the list.

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If the standard Windows uninstaller doesn’t take your fancy then you might want to consider some third-party applications to help you out. If you know what you need to ditch, but there’s just a lot of it to go through, then try out a bulk uninstaller like Absolute Uninstaller. They’ll save you the time consuming task of going through each wizard one-by-one and will instead get the job done in minimal clicks. Be sure to check out our guide on bulk uninstalling How To Install & Uninstall Windows Programs In Bulk How To Install & Uninstall Windows Programs In Bulk A mass installer or uninstaller can save you heaps of time. Remember the last time you set up a new computer? We are going to teach you how to do these tasks in a flash. Read More for further information.

But let’s take it one step further. There’s a program called Should I Remove It? (our Should I remove It? review Know What Software To Uninstall With Should I Remove It? Know What Software To Uninstall With Should I Remove It? Here at MakeUseOf, we've put out many articles reviewing and highlighting software that allows you to completely and cleanly uninstall applications from your system. One issue many of you run into is not knowing which... Read More ) that will scan all installations on your computer and let you know how many other people remove the programs in the list and how they rate them. It’s a good way to gauge what some unsavoury things might be, such as adware.

Manage Your Folders

It’s all well and good to ditch useless data and clean up your hard drive, but it might be pretty pointless if your folders aren’t properly organised. You might want to consider making use of the libraries feature Understand Windows 8 Libraries To Master Storage Space Understand Windows 8 Libraries To Master Storage Space Read More , which was introduced in Windows 7. This allows you to group files in a way that makes most sense to you, rather than where the system think it’s best to keep them.

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To assist with this you may benefit from using a program like DropIt (our DropIt review Organize Your Computer Files In A Flash With DropIt [Windows] Organize Your Computer Files In A Flash With DropIt [Windows] Read More ). This will automatically sort your files into folders based on rules you define and you can also perform specific actions based on file type.

You can also apply methods like grouping content, utilising a download manager and managing your archive files, all of which are detailed in our existing tips on how to keep your folders organised 4 Proven Tips To Keep Your Windows Folders Organized 4 Proven Tips To Keep Your Windows Folders Organized Read More .

Automatically Delete Your Downloads

Your downloads folder is likely a prime culprit for containing files that you don’t need anymore. Whether it’s installers, zipped files or just throwaway pictures, most of us will take any important data from our downloads folder and store it elsewhere, leaving unneeded data behind, or they’ll use a utility like the one mentioned above to do so!

downloads

To that end, you can have your downloads folder automatically cleaned out after a certain period of time. One third-party application you can use to achieve this is Belvedere. Alternatively, you can use a built-in Windows tool and schedule the clean-up with the Task Manager 4 Boring Tasks You Can Automate With the Windows Task Scheduler 4 Boring Tasks You Can Automate With the Windows Task Scheduler Your time is too valuable to be wasted with repetitive tasks. Let us show you how to automate and schedule tasks. We have a few great examples, too. Read More .

Spring Clean

It’s easy for your computer to get bogged down with useless junk quickly and no-one wants to have their hard drive wasting away storing pointless data. Follow our tips above and you’ll be well on your way to keeping things tidy.

Not only will decluttering your system get rid of the excess data, it’ll also free up space on your hard drive and make your folders easier to navigate.

Do you use any of these methods regularly? Do you have any of your own system cleansing tips to share?

Image Credits: trash can Via Shutterstock

  1. Chris
    April 12, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    writers *and* digital artists

  2. Chris
    April 12, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    Also, Git isn't just for programmers. It's very useful for writers age digital artists. Infinitely better than multiple self time-stamped versions of the same file.

  3. g.m.nelson
    April 7, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    to keep my downloads folder under control, once I use an installer or unpack a zip file I move these source files to a 'pending offload' folder that I will later move to an external drive every couple of months. Once or twice a year I will go thru the external archive weeding out all but the last 2 versions of program installers that I can use to re-install if a program gets corrupted.

  4. Bud
    April 6, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    I vaguely remember some of the items mentioned here when I once had a MicroSUCKS OS.
    I have a Mac desktop now and most every night run the app called “CleanMyMac.” Occasionally will check my Safari browser to remove unnecessary/unwanted cookies, and will uninstall old downloaded programs. Average between 300-400 MB’s of accumulated junk using “CleanMyMac.” So far.....so good !

  5. bvssunnydale1690
    April 3, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    With (relatively) massive hard drives redundant data (for most office work) isn't much of a problem. I routinely backup to date I'm pretty sure will no longer be needed to blu-ray disks and catalog those (I use SuperCat but there are lots of alts). TreeSize Free is a great program for drilling down and letting you know what's taking up all your space (sometimes it's surprising that a little utility like ERUNT can take up GB's of space if you don't clean out old registry backups once in awhile). Programs, for me, are the real disk hogs. It's hard to beat RevoUninstaller for program listing and removal. Also, in Windows 7, running 'Disk Cleanup' can find many GBs of updates, patches, service packs, that can almost always be removed without problem (I've seen it remove 20GB's on a lot of machines). Never do anything without having backups guys.. this is an elementary school level need for everyone.. I use TrueImage but lots of alts here too..

    • bvssunnydale1690
      April 3, 2015 at 4:14 pm

      I meant I routinely backup "data", not date - why can't I edit this? Isn't this reddit?

  6. likefunbutnot
    April 1, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    People who are organized will tell you that the best way is to just be organized in the first place. I keep about 40TB (that is not a typo) of media content sorted, synchronized and duplicated. I am able to do that because I gave a lot of thought to how I need to keep that content so that I can most easily find it.

    As I add files, my rule is that nothing I want to keep goes anyplace but a semi-permanent destination. I don't save anything in my home directory and I'd never keep anything on my desktop that I'm not willing to delete five minutes later. I do establish specific Incoming folders for data that I know I'll need to interact with before it can be put where it needs to go (e.g. to match a previously established naming convention or to ensure metadata is correct) and I do take some time to clean those folders out every week, but sorting as I go along is a lot easier than doing any amount of cleanup after the fact.

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