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Over time, every Windows installation New To Windows? These Tips Will Help You Survive New To Windows? These Tips Will Help You Survive Many kids these days go through school using iPads, Macs, and Android tablets. Sooner or later, though, most people encounter Windows. Learn about the OS and tips on mastering it! Read More  builds up excess cruft that just wastes space. Files and programs that we fail to clean up contribute to the problem. Unless you step in, you will soon encounter a low disk space warning or a slow computer How to Speed Up Windows 10 From Boot to Shut Down How to Speed Up Windows 10 From Boot to Shut Down Registry tweaks and ominous cleaners rarely fix a slow computer. We have compiled a list of tried-and-true methods that will give your Windows 10 computer an instant performance boost. Read More .

Let’s take a look at the tools you can utilize to clean up Windows 10. We will go beyond alternatives to CCleaner How to Clean Your Windows 10 PC Without Using CCleaner How to Clean Your Windows 10 PC Without Using CCleaner Looking for an alternative to CCleaner for cleaning your PC? Here's an up-and-coming app that might be up your alley. Read More ! We’ll examine a variety of programs to use in different situations.

Clean Useless Files

When cleaning up temporary files on your PC, you have two main options: the built-in Windows Disk Cleanup Low Disk Space? 5 Native Windows Tools To Free Up Storage Space Low Disk Space? 5 Native Windows Tools To Free Up Storage Space Don't download a fishy third party tool to reclaim valuable disk space! Windows has its own tools for the job and they're easy to use. Read More and CCleaner. Since they have different strengths, however, they can be used in harmony.

Disk Cleanup

The Disk Cleanup utility is part of Windows. You can access it by typing Disk Cleanup into the Start Menu. Give it a few minutes to analyze the system and it will present you with a list of items for review.

You can remove most of the items without thought. You might want to hold off on cleaning the Windows ESD installation files option though. Removing this saves space, but you won’t be able to reset your computer using the PC Refresh feature How System Restore & Factory Reset Work in Windows 10 How System Restore & Factory Reset Work in Windows 10 Space wasted to a recovery partition is a thing of the past. System Restore and Factory Reset have improved in Windows 10. We show you how it works. Read More without Windows 10 installation media.

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Other than this caveat, you should have no problem removing files using Disk Cleanup. Feel free to exclude any category you aren’t sure about. Make sure to click the Clean system files button first to view everything that can be removed!

CCleaner

If you want to go further, using CCleaner is your best option. This trusted utility cleans many more applications than the built-in Windows tool. Open it up and use the Cleaner tab on the left to get an overview of everything you can remove.

CCleaner allows you to clean up more Windows files 7 Hidden Windows Caches & How to Clear Them 7 Hidden Windows Caches & How to Clear Them Cached files can take up a lot of bytes. While dedicated tools can help you free up disk space, they might not clear it all. We show you how to manually release storage space. Read More than Disk Cleanup, even down to small bits like the last download location in internet Explorer. You’re also able to clean up files for installed apps, such as Chrome and Firefox, media players, and Office applications.

It’s worth reviewing the checkboxes that CCleaner selects by default before using it. Some options, like removing thumbnails, aren’t necessary because Windows will re-create them when you access the files again. Use the Analyze button to find out how much space each category is taking up. Choose Clean when you’re ready to delete those files.

CCleaner also has an option for cleaning the registry. Don’t do this. Even a trusted registry cleaner like CCleaner is useless at best, as removing hundreds of registry “errors” won’t improve performance at all Don't Believe The Hype: Registry Cleaners Don't Make Windows Faster Don't Believe The Hype: Registry Cleaners Don't Make Windows Faster Much advice has been given on how to keep your computer running smoothly, as well as how to fix it when it has become slow. We have even published a Windows on Speed guide, written... Read More , and you’re more likely to break something with the excess cleaning 5 Ways Overzealous Cleaning Can Break Windows 5 Ways Overzealous Cleaning Can Break Windows It's easy to go overboard with cleaning your PC. When you're cleaning your PC, be sure you know what you're getting into -- it's easy to break something. Read More than help anything.

Clean Large Files

Once you’ve removed junk system files, the next step is to analyze installed apps and programs. Here, TreeSize Free can help you identify the folders that take up the most space on your system.

Scan for Large Items

Open up TreeSize and click Scan on the top bar. You can choose your entire C: drive (which is a good idea) or scan a particular folder. You might be asked to provide administrative permission. After a few minutes, TreeSize will show you everything on your system, arranged by the largest files first.

Your largest folders will probably be your Users folder, the Windows folder, and the Program Files folder. There’s not much you can do in the Windows directory without causing issues, so let’s stick to the Program Files and your User folder.

The Program Files folder (including the Program Files (x86) folder on 64-bit installations of Windows) contains all of your installed apps and programs. Massive installations like Adobe creative products, as well as games, are likely to show up here. Have a look to see which apps are taking up the most space.

Eliminate Large Items No Longer Needed

Once you’ve identified which software is taking up space and which you’d like to remove, type Programs into the Start Menu to open Programs and Features. While you can sort by size in this menu, it’s often not reliable, which is why we used TreeSize first. Locate the software you’d like to remove, then right-click its name and choose Uninstall. Follow the prompts, which might be different for different pieces of software, to toss the application out 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 .

If you’re not sure of whether you should remove something, check out Should I Remove It? for advice 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 from other users.

Last is your personal folder under Users. This is where Windows stores all of our personal files, including images and video. Another big folder might be AppData, which contains information used by apps for your preferences and information. Applications usually store cached files 7 Hidden Windows Caches & How to Clear Them 7 Hidden Windows Caches & How to Clear Them Cached files can take up a lot of bytes. While dedicated tools can help you free up disk space, they might not clear it all. We show you how to manually release storage space. Read More  here.

For example, if you’re saving music offline with Spotify Premium, you’ll see a lot of space being used in its folder (if you didn’t already run CCleaner).

To clean up space from your own folder, move large files to an external hard drive, or delete old stuff you don’t need. Additionally, if you have a lot of files synced from Dropbox or Google Drive, use their preferences menus to de-sync some files from your local machine in order to save space.

You’ll always be able to access those files through the web interface.

Clean Bloatware

We’ve cleaned up temporary files and gotten rid of user data we don’t need. The next step is to remove pre-installed bloatware. Whether “recommended” Windows 10 Modern apps 5 Places to Find & Disable Ads in Windows 10 5 Places to Find & Disable Ads in Windows 10 You shouldn't have to put up with advertising in your operating system. Windows 10 features a few ads and promotions. We'll show you where to find and how to get rid of them. Read More or manufacturer-installed junk, removing this is a great step anytime you install Windows or take a big cleaning run.

We’ve shown you how to remove Windows 10 pre-installed apps Tired of Bloatware? How to Purge Windows 10 Store Apps Tired of Bloatware? How to Purge Windows 10 Store Apps For Microsoft, Windows 10 is a cash machine. With future updates, more apps will be pre-installed and promoted on the Start Menu. Let us show you how to easily remove pre-installed Windows Store apps. Read More using 10AppsManager. This free tool gives you control over Windows’ stock Modern apps. Once that side is done, use The PC Decrapifier to uninstall manufacturer crapware How To Remove Unwanted Crapware From Your Brand New Windows 7 System How To Remove Unwanted Crapware From Your Brand New Windows 7 System Read More . This includes premium antivirus trials or branded software that duplicates Windows functionality.

Clean Your Desktop

Even with a clean computer, a messy desktop can lead to confusion. If you’re storing all your important files on your desktop, take some time to clean up your desktop once and for all How To Clean Up Your Windows Desktop Once & For All How To Clean Up Your Windows Desktop Once & For All Your desktop is a mess. Admit it. Just like a desk with papers all over, a messy computer desktop is far from productive. Plus, it just doesn’t look nice. If you’re having issues finding the... Read More — you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

The simplest way to clean your desktop is to move all files to another location. Next, create shortcuts How to Create Windows Desktop Shortcuts the Easy Way How to Create Windows Desktop Shortcuts the Easy Way Smart desktop shortcuts can save you mindless sifting through menus and folders. We show you quick & easy ways to create them. Read More to the files you really need on your desktop. If this doesn’t seem plausible, then Fences might be the app you need.

Fences allows you to manage your desktop icons much more powerfully than built-in Windows tools. With this tool you can wrangle similar icons together and hide them when you’re not using them, among other abilities.

With a clean computer and clean desktop, you’ll feel like you’re using a whole new system!

Careful Cleaning

We already touched on not using registry cleaners with CCleaner, but it bears repeating with all the fake software out there: do not download “My Clean PC 3000” or other such junk programs.

These fake apps How to Spot Fake Antivirus and System Cleaning Apps How to Spot Fake Antivirus and System Cleaning Apps Fake "antivirus" apps that pretend to find malware so you'll buy the premium version of the app are on the rise, and increasingly targeting Mac users. Here are a few tips for identifying these apps... Read More find hundreds or thousands of “issues” that it asks you to pay to clean.

The tools above will do all the cleaning you need for free. And they won’t spawn ads or other crap onto your computer like the fakes do. Even legitimate software should not be used to clean your registry. It’s just unnecessary.

Finally, be careful where you download from. It’s usually safest to grab software from the manufacturer’s website or trusted sites 9 Cleanest & Safest Websites to Download Free Software for Windows 9 Cleanest & Safest Websites to Download Free Software for Windows Downloading software can be dangerous. Visit the wrong site and you might accidentally download malware. We have compiled free software download sites you can trust. Read More as many third-party sites like Download.com include bundled junk in their installers.

Go Back to Stock Windows 10

You’ve read all the above and you don’t want to do the work of cleaning? Maybe you feel that your system is so full of crap that it will never be fixed. Windows 10 has a built-in option that you’ll love!

The PC Refresh option Should You Refresh, Reset, Restore, or Reinstall Windows? Should You Refresh, Reset, Restore, or Reinstall Windows? Ever wanted to reset Windows 7 without losing personal data? Between a factory reset and a reinstall, it was tough. Since Windows 8, we have two new options: Refresh and Reset. Which one is right... Read More is a way to jump back to a standard install of Windows, while keeping your programs. The only problem is that computer manufacturers can customize the Refresh images to install their own crapware back again.

If you want to use Refresh and get a standard Windows 10 image direct from Microsoft, type Recovery into the Start Menu to open the recovery panel. Scroll down to the bottom and click Learn how to start fresh with a clean installation of Windows. This will bring you to a page that helps you get started. You’ll have the option of doing a full reset 4 Ways to Reset Windows 10 and Reinstall From Scratch 4 Ways to Reset Windows 10 and Reinstall From Scratch Windows 10 is still Windows, meaning it will need a fresh start every once in a while. We show you how you can get a fresh Windows 10 installation with as little effort as possible. Read More (deleting your data) or just resetting installed programs.

Some computer vendors are worse than others with junkware. If you’re overwhelmed with crapware, this method might be faster than manually removing everything.

Squeaky Clean

These tools, while different, all work together to give you a clean Windows system. You might not need all of them right now, but they’re great to keep in your toolkit for when things get a bit messy.

Now that you know all about cleaning up Windows 10, take a few minutes to perform spring cleaning The Spring Cleaning Checklist & Toolset for Your Windows PC The Spring Cleaning Checklist & Toolset for Your Windows PC Your computer needs a regular checkup, just like your car or your garden. The hardware can collect dirt, while the software can bloat and slow down your system. Let us guide you through the cleanup. Read More and clean up your hardware, too!

What other tools are essential for cleaning your system? Let us know how much space you freed up using these methods, and add to the list, down in the comments!

  1. Rog
    September 15, 2016 at 4:34 am

    Excellent article. Personally, I already do 100% of this workflow to keep my PCs tidy but this will be an perfect to share with the friends and family who always need maintenance help. It's not easy explaining the maintenance process in a concise way for the less technically inclined, kudos!

    I also appreciate you don't go overboard like a lot of articles do and reccommend actions that can damage your PC like reg cleaners and some all-in-one cleaners out there. Personally, I'm still gun-shy about reinstalling Ccleaner for Windows 10 due to the legit issues it had with the OS pre-anniversary update. The normal file cleaning operation (not the registry cleaner) was responsible for breaking the Windows Store & Windows Update for many users -- even with the innocuous, near-default settings. It's been awhile, so I'm sure they've ironed out those issues. Other than that, never had a problem for all the years I've used it.

    Thanks again for putting this together, It will be shared heavily.

    • Ben Stegner
      September 15, 2016 at 11:39 pm

      I appreciate your kind words. Initially this article was going to be a list of CCleaner-like apps, but then I decided to go with the route I did.

      I'm so happy to hear you'll save this to send to folks — that's my hope for what I write, and I hope you're able to help many friends with it. If I've explaining technical, boring stuff to normal people in an engaging way, I've done what I've set out to do!

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