After using a computer for a while, you will start noticing that it will start showing signs of stress, particularly after you’ve installed lots of programs and stored many files. This all to true with Windows users, which have to work with an operating system that hoards tons of useless data with no purpose. Of course, the blame is not only with the operating system, as users tend to hold on to lots of files that have no use.
If you’ve reached the point when your C drive is so full that you can’t even load a web page, then it’s time to start thinking of ways to declutter your PC and make it run like it once did. Apart from the files that the users save themselves, there a lot of other information that needs to be deleted from the hard drive. There are specialized software that can wipe a hard drive in seconds, but before we get to those, let’s look a little closer to home.
Learn the default tools
Although Windows isn’t particularly good at maintaining a clean working environment, the designers were kind enough to implement tools that will help users declutter their computers and keep them tidy. However, more often than we’d like, these tools are forgotten or simply discarded. If you don’t have anything better, then why not give them a try, as they can prove quite useful. Here are a few of the tools that you can use to clean your computer:
Programs and Features
You should be familiar with this option by now, as it allows users to uninstall most programs installed on their computers. Located in the Control Panel, this option shows users which software is installed on their computers, how much it occupies and when it was installed. From here, they can easily uninstall old software. Using this method also has a dissadvantage, as in most cases, the program will leave some residue behind, call it the “program’s ghost”, which has to be deleted by other means.
In earlier versions of Windows, this was the Disk Defragmenter tool, which was renamed in Windows 8. This trusty tool will allow users to defragment their drives and make them run faster and smoother. The information on your drive tends to clump together after a while, and if you’re not careful, then you might end up with huge chunks of data that are harder to read by the hard drive. Defragmenting your HDD can help with this problem and allow it to run better. If you are interested in defragmentation software, you can check out our list of the best ones available, or you can take a look at some hard drive and SSD optimization tips.
This is one of the oldest utilities that Windows has to offer and it can be of great use when you want to clean your hard drive of temp files, offline web-pages and other useless data. While it doesn’t fair too good when compared to other specialized software, when you don’t have access to anything else, it can be used to free up some space and remove some junk that slows down your computer.
The Disk Management tool is very important to any computer. It offers users lots of tools for hard drive maintenance, as well as the possibility to create new partitions or alter existing ones. While the tool is pretty easy to use, do be careful when using it, as you might encounter data loss. For more information on how to manage partitions using the Disk Management utility, check out our tutorial.
How to start with decluttering your PC
Needless to say that cleaning your computer, like cleaning a house, can be a daunting task. If you’ve never done it before, then chances are you don’t even know where to start, so it’s useful to make a battle plan before you start. It is important to know what data you need to get rid of before you start deleting left and right, as well as knowing the tools that can help you do it more easily.
Uninstall old/unused programs
If some time has passed since you’ve last formatted your computer, chances are that there are lots of programs installed on your computer that you have no use for and their only use now is to occupy space and slow your computer down. To address this problem, you can use the default Windows uninstaller, or you could go for something more specialized.
- REVO Uninstaller – This tool is both powerful and easy to use, allowing any user to see exactly what is installed on their computer. In comparison with the default Windows tool, Revo can unsintall pretty much any piece of software you want, but at the same time, it removes every trace of that particular software from your computer. If you want to know more about Revo Uninstaller, you can check out our review of this software.
- Ashampoo Uninstaller – Ashampoo has developed lots of tools over the years, covering pretty much everything from multimedia tools to antivirus software, and as a part of their “System Utilities” line, they offer their Uninstall utility that can help users permanently delete software from their computers. Of course, this tool has many other uses besides the uninstaller feature, and all of them can be used to improve how your computer works.
Sort your files and organize them
If you plan on decluttering your computer the right way, you will need to sort all your different files by category, so you can easily find them later on. Filter all your images and store them in a separate folder, or organize them via event or any other relevant category that you have. Do the same with your videos and your music, so you will have a single folder with each type of media file, and within that folder, all the files sorted via relevant criteria.
Removing duplicates is also a good way to reduce clutter, and we all know how many copies of the same picture you can end up having. If you are a photographer, then you usually take multiple shots of the same subject, so having duplicates is bound to happen. The same goes with videos and music.
Partition your hard drive
Having multiple partitions is a very good idea. It keeps your computer organized and working better. Have a partition for Windows and other important software, and a few others where you can install your games, save your media files and so on. By using this approach, you can easily find files of a certain type. partitioning a hard drive can be somewhat difficult if you’ve never done it before, but with a bit of patience it can be done. This process is usually completed when you install Windows on your device, but if you don’t want to format your hard drive, it can be done with third party software.
Note: Removing most of the space hogs on your hard drive can improve the overall performance.
One of the best partition managers you could get your hands on is EASEUS Partition Master. It offers an array of tools that will help you create, manage and resize partitions without data loss (if done correctly). This software is easy to use and it will help you create multiple partitions so you can declutter your hard drive easily.
Although not the prettiest tool here, Partition Logic is effective and simple to use. It provides users all the options they would need for managing the space on their hard drives. Format, defragment, move and many other options can be used by users with only a click.
Although this software is pretty old and somewhat out-dated, it can still prove to be very useful at need. Being lightweight and well stocked on features, users can manage their partitions easily and effectively with it. It’s user interface is well designed, having all the features easily accessible, and in terms of ease of use, clear and simple are the keywords.
For more information on hard drive analysis and repair tools, check out our list of the top 25 utilities to use.
Archive everything and backup!
After you’ve finished organizing your files by category or other relevant criteria, you might want to think about those that you rarely use, but still don’t want to part with. If you have such files, the best way workaround is to archive them and store them somewhere else. You can use a free archive tool like WinRAR to do so and afterwords you can backup those files to DVDs or memory sticks This way, you can still keep the files, but they don’t clutter your computer.
Clean your Desktop
Keeping a clean Desktop is pleasing to the eye but at the same time improves ease of use. Saving lots of files on the desktop will make it hard when you try to find a particular file. Also, if you save large files, they will fill your C drive where the Windows is stored. Instead, a better way is to move non-shortcut files to a different partition or to a dedicated folder and all your important shortcuts to the taskbar. This will ensure that you always have them near when you need a specific program.
Keep the Registry clean
The last step to do, and probably the most important, is to clean your registry on a regular basis. Every program you install on your computer will make registry entries, and when you unsintall it, it will most likely leave registry entries that point to empty memory locations. After a while, these will pile up, so cleaning should be performed whenever you are deleting programs from your computer. Even though Windows does not offer a registry cleaner by default, there are a few other programs that can be of assistance with this task.
One of the best lightweight tools for decluttering a computer you can have is CCleaner. This little guy can clean your registry, delete unused files, temporary internet files or website cookies. It’s clean and simple interface allows users to make short work of unwanted files on their computers, but when cleaning the registry, be sure to do multiple passes so you catch every registry entry that is broken.
Norton is a popular name when it comes to computer security, but Symantec also provide other tools for optimizing computers. Norton Utilities offers users an array of optimizing tools, like disk defragmenter or registry cleaner. The program also acts as a shortcut to the default Windows utilities, if you don’t want to sped too much time looking for them yourself. If you’re only interested in using the registry cleaner, be sure to do multiple passes to ensure the program catches every error.
If you’re going for peak performance, then System Mechanic is the guy to see. Even though it has a very good registry cleaner, we encourage you to try out all the other features. This utility allows users to customize the way it works, which can be fully automatic, or manual and every level in between. If you want to set it up and forget about it, System Mechanic will provide this option, but on the other hand, if you want to configure every utility to run manually when you desire, this can also be done.
Last but not least, the most important step of all: maintaining your computer. After you’ve done so much to ensure that your hard drive is no longer cluttered will useless files and unused programs, and all the files are in the right place, you must make a habit of keeping everything tidy from now on. Doing so will ensure that your computer runs at full throttle, boots up faster and it also looks professional.