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 Whether it’s outdated downloads, unused programs or just messy folder structures, keeping things neat and organised will give you peace of mind.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 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.
We’ve previously written a guide on how to find and remove duplicate files. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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 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) 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, 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.
To assist with this you may benefit from using a program like DropIt (our DropIt review). 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.
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!
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.
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?
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