Every hardware and software need regular maintenance, and operating systems are no exception. Many Windows users tend to take it for granted that maintenance runs in the background smoothly, without causing much trouble.
Windows 10 does many things automatically, but if you do a few clicks and tweaks, you can make things all the better. Let’s also see and explain what maintenance tasks are safe to perform in Windows 10, and what mistakes can cost you hours of a bad headache just to get things back to normal.
Yes, Registry tends to accumulate unnecessary entries over time as you uninstall the software. However, the concept of the obsolete Registry entries slowing down your PC and clogging its resources is a myth created by the multitude of commercial PC cleaning apps. PC cleaning apps are the equivalent of passive-aggressive people – they smile but never mean well.
If you ever tried one of these apps, I bet you didn’t notice any difference in your PC performance before and after registry cleaning. If yes, you’re lucky because Registry cleaners can and do create more problems than they “sort of” eliminate.
The rule of thumb when cleaning your PC – know what you’re poking. You could be deleting necessary system files, and if so, you’re in for a few hours of troubleshooting after the cleaning.
Registry cleaners seldom fix anything, so don’t bother wasting your money, and time, on software that’s placebo, at best.
Just like Registry cleaners, RAM optimizers supposedly optimize your PC’s memory so that programs don’t clog it. Again, many apps claiming to optimize RAM are rather controversial, and you will end up with yet another placebo, at best.
Thankfully, Win 10 does a good job of self-regulating at RAM consumption. If you’re experiencing RAM shortage, you may want to reconsider your default programs. For instance, avoid Chrome browser, which is a RAM clog, and use the more customizable Firefox with grouped tabs on, which lets you keep the multitude of tabs you’re not using from loading.
Thankfully, Windows 10 lets you automate some routine and necessary maintenance tasks. With auto-cleaning, your system performs those repetitive yet vital tasks without much of your interference. Needless to say, the ability to schedule maintenance is very liberating.
First of all, have your Win 10 run a cleanup of old files and drive defragmenting, i.e., if you’re not using SSD.
Cleanup Tool in Win 10 can run on a user-defined schedule. To set it up:
Go to Settings → Storage tab to the left → Storage Sense → toggle On → Windows will automatically clean up old files.
If you want to tweak that, choose Change how we free up space. This option lets you toggle on/off to clean temp files and the contents of your Recycle Bin.
Likewise, you can use the Clean Now option to free up some space immediately.
Defragmentation for HDDs
Win 10 normally schedules disk defragmentation for you, but check anyway:
Start Menu → type defrag → open Defragment and Optimize Drives → toggle On next to Scheduled optimization.
Note: you should defragment HDD drives, but not SDD (Solid State Drives) due to the detrimental effect defragmentation has on SDDs.
Installing updates is a part of maintenance, but the catch with Windows 10 is Microsoft just won’t let you have it your way with the updates. Win 7 and 8.1 give you more control, and you can even disable updates altogether. The reason for this – at least partially – is to keep your computer patched, and thus, more secure. So, do update your Windows when you receive those patches and fixes.
Backups are necessary for many reasons. Ransomware, hardware or software glitches can break things, and the worst thing is having to restore data. Even if there’s nothing important, getting your desktop to look like you want it is so time-consuming you simply must have a more or less recent backup of your data.
Windows comes with the built-in backup tool, or you can use a third-party tool of your choice. For privacy reasons, you might want to backup locally to an external drive, or to the cloud storage for convenience.
Run At Startup
The problem is many programs grant themselves a privilege to load at computer startup, thus clogging its resources. Running at startup, however, is only necessary for essentials like antivirus, anti-keyloggers, f.lux or clipboard managers.
There’s no legit reason for Adobe Reader, Skype or Epson software updater to run the moment you boot. But they do by default, and it’s a shameful waste of time and resources at every single boot.
You can weed through the startup programs right in your Task Manager, or use a third-party tool like Revo Uninstaller to disable everything that doesn’t really need to load at boot. Revo is also good at cleaning up leftover files after apps uninstall, and other junk.
Maintenance isn’t just about cleaning up junk files and installing OS updates on time. It’s also about common sense hygiene like vacuuming the dust from PC and UPS fans, wiping the keyboard with antibacterial wipes, and sticking to reasonable browsing habits like using a VPN, encrypting confidential data, and avoiding shady software.