Do you have some computer tasks that you’ve put off? Sometimes it’s tough to find the motivation to work on a big project when you get a free weekend. We’ve covered some of these important projects for Windows users before.
But that doesn’t mean that smaller projects aren’t just as important. Let’s discuss some small-scale Windows projects you can complete in an hour or two on the weekend.
1. Remove Bloatware
Chances are that your PC came with some junk programs that you don’t use or care about, known as bloatware. These include apps that duplicate system functionality, don’t work without you paying, or serve no useful purpose. Typically your computer’s manufacturer loads them on, but these days Windows 10 also includes garbage like Candy Crush. They waste space on your PC and can use system resources too.
To remove bloatware manually, head to your list of installed apps. In Windows 10, you’ll find this at Settings > Apps > Apps & features. Scroll through the list, and when you find something that you don’t want, click it and select Uninstall. If you’re not certain, check Should I Remove It? to make sure it’s not actually an important program.
2. Schedule the Removal of Old Files Automatically
You probably know that Windows builds up junk files over time. Thus, every once in a while, cleaning out temporary files helps you reclaim space. But you can set up a cleaner to run on a schedule so you don’t have to remember to do it yourself.
In fact, Windows 10 has this functionality built into its latest versions. Visit Settings > System > Storage to have a look at the Storage sense options. Here, you’ll need to turn the Storage sense slider on to let Windows automatically clean up old files.
Click Change how we free up space to enable three options. These let Windows automatically delete temporary files, the Recycle Bin contents, and files in your Downloads folder that you haven’t used in a month.
Follow our complete guide to cleaning Windows for more tips.
3. Start Using Windows Defender
Windows Defender got a bad rap when it was new. It lacked basic features, didn’t perform well on malware tests, and most people continued to use a third-party antivirus. While solid third-party options still exist, for the average user, we think Windows Defender is a great option.
Defender fulfills two critical criteria: it never displays nag screens and doesn’t try to cram in a bunch of trash when you install it — because it’s already built into Windows. Microsoft has incentive to keep Defender solid, and you don’t have to worry about the company behind it bloating it up over time. Other apps like Avast bundle an insane amount of unnecessary software, and half of it doesn’t even work properly unless you pay.
We highly recommend you read the reasoning of Robert O’Callahan, a former Firefox developer, about why third-party antivirus can do more harm than good. Because it hooks its claws into so many aspects of your PC, it can cause issues that seem like something else’s fault.
To swap to Windows Defender, follow the steps in #1 above to remove your current antivirus. Reboot, and head to Settings > Update & security > Windows Defender and click Open Windows Defender Security Center. If you see Your device is being protected, then Windows Defender is active.
4. Update All Your Programs
On Windows, there’s no built-in central utility to update all your apps. Sure, the Store has an Updates page, but you probably don’t get much of your software from there.
It’s not glamorous, but a worthwhile project is making sure that all your installed programs are up-to-date. This will ensure you have the latest security patches, and can also bring new features.
Some apps update themselves, others have an option in their menu, and still others feature a separate program for updating (like Adobe Creative Cloud). In most apps, you can visit Help > Check for Updates or Help > About [App] to trigger a check. Some will also prompt you to update as soon as you open them.
You should definitely check your most important apps, including your browser and plugins like Flash and Java (if you still have them installed). If you need some help, try installing a free update utility like FileHippo Update Checker. You can also bundle all programs you want to update together with Ninite and it will automatically install updates for you.
5. Increase Your System Memory
Most hardware upgrades, like moving Windows to an SSD, take too much time for a spot on this list. But one of the easiest ways to improve your PC’s performance is adding more RAM (random access memory). Depending on your computer, this might be easy, difficult, or impossible.
First, we recommend looking up your PC model and to see if the RAM is easy to replace. For a desktop, it should be no problem. Some laptops have a dedicated cover you can remove for easy access to the RAM. However, other laptops don’t have the RAM in a convenient spot. So unless you’re comfortable taking your machine halfway apart, we wouldn’t recommend it.
On the main page, you’ll see two options. The Crucial Advisor tool lets you enter your computer’s manufacturer and model for recommendations. You can usually find this right on your machine, but if not, use the Crucial System Scanner. This will scan your system automatically and provide the needed information.
Once you’ve found your PC with either option, you’ll see Crucial’s stock that’s compatible with your system. On the left side, Crucial lists the maximum RAM your computer can take.
Then, you’ll have to decide how much RAM you need. Note that in most cases, you’ll want to buy sticks of RAM in pairs. So if you want to upgrade to 16GB, you should buy two 8GB units. Depending on your computer, you could have free slots for more RAM, or you may have to replace the existing RAM. Speccy can tell you how many RAM slots you have free if you’re not sure.
Once you order the RAM, it’s simply a matter of installing it. This will differ by computer, so check our guide to building a PC for some pictures and advice.
6. Try Some Awesome New Software
Are you tired of using the same programs? You should spend your project time installing some fresh apps to improve your experience.
If you don’t have any of the apps everyone should install first, definitely start with those. Then, go further by replacing some default Windows apps with superior alternatives. If you’re feeling bold, try some of the best Modern Store apps.
Consult our list of the best Windows software for dozens more choices. You’re bound to find something new and exciting!
7. Finally Upgrade to Windows 10
Windows 10 is a few years old, but many people refused Microsoft’s free upgrade offer and are still hanging onto Windows 7 or 8.1. Yet you can still upgrade to Windows 10 at no cost as long as you have a valid license key. We’ve written a complete guide to upgrading to Windows 10, including how to roll back to Windows 7 or 8.1 if you don’t like it.
Note that Microsoft will close the loophole that still allows you to upgrade to Windows 10 for free by December 31, 2017.
If you’re already using Windows 10 and hate it, why not stop complaining about it and make a project out of downgrading back to your old version? It’s not as easy as the built-in rollback option, but still possible.
Just make sure you perform a few checks before upgrading to Windows 10 to ensure it goes smoothly.
What Windows Projects Will You Tackle This Weekend?
We’ve shared seven solid projects you can complete in a few hours. These will all improve your Windows experience, so they’re worth doing if you feel a little stale in your computing. You might have put them off for a while in favor of other tasks, but it will feel great to buckle down and improve your PC!
What other Windows weekend projects would you recommend to users? Did doing these improve your Windows experience? Share with us in the comments!
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