How to spruce up and speed up your Windows 10 PC for Chinese New Year in 8 steps

Find out which files are taking up the most space on your Windows PC with Windows 10's built-in storage analyser.
Find out which files are taking up the most space on your Windows PC with Windows 10's built-in storage analyser.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE (HARDWAREZONE) - With Chinese New Year around the corner, why not also clean up, declutter and speed up your Windows personal computer too? Here are eight tips to spruce up your Windows 10 computer.

1. Run a virus and malware scan

Microsoft's Windows 10 has a perfectly reliable anti-virus, malware and spyware detection capability built-in called Window Defender and it is free. Make sure to set it up for automatic updates and background monitoring so that you do not have to worry about the basic health of your Windows machine.

Microsoft has several Cybersecurity Centers around the world, including one in Singapore, and they work in conjunction with Microsoft's Cybercrime Satellite Center Singapore (an extension of Microsoft's Cybercrime Center in Redmond). But if you still feel the need for third-party validation, there are more options.

Avira Free Antivirus does not cost anything and scans for both viruses as well as malware. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is another free app, but it focuses solely on removing malware, not viruses, from your PC.

2. Uninstall old programs

Uninstall old programs to clear out disk space. Click on "Start" in the taskbar at the bottom, then view all apps, right click on any program you do not want and choose "Uninstall".

You can also type "Control Panel" in the taskbar's search box or icon, select "Programs" then "Programs and Features" and select an app to uninstall it.

Another way is to right click on Start then "Apps and Features" and select an app you want to uninstall.

3. Clear out old large files

Find out which files are taking up the most space on your Windows PC with Windows 10's built-in storage analyser. Go to Start, Settings then System and finally Storage, and choose a drive. Windows will then show you a list of categories and folders with information on how big they are. Take a look inside each section to see if there are any large, unused files you can delete. But be careful not to delete important programs.

4. Clear junk using Disk Clean-up

Use Windows' Disk Clean-up utility to delete unnecessary Windows files on your hard drive. Type "admin" in the taskbar's search box, choose Windows Administrative Tools, then Disk Clean-up. Choose the drive you want to clean, and then click "OK". Select the files you want to delete, choose OK, then select "Delete Files". To delete system files you may no longer need, click "Clean up system files".

5. Stop apps from slowing down system start up

After installation, some apps will set themselves to launch at the same time you boot up your system. This can be convenient - it reduces load time for commonly used programs - but it can also slow down your star-up process.

To see which programs load at startup, press CTRL+SHIFT+ESC on Windows 10 to bring up your Task Manager. Switch to the "Start-up" tab, and you can see which programs run on start up. Right click to disable any that you do not use. Windows 10 will even tell you which programs have the biggest impact on start-up speed.

6. Clean up your Windows 10 taskbar

If you prefer a cleaner look for your Windows 10 taskbar, you can remove icons on it.

If you have pinned items on the taskbar which you do not use anymore, right click the item and choose "Unpin from taskbar".

Right clicking and unchecking "Show Cortana button" removes the Cortana digital voice assistant icon.

If you do not use virtual desktops (known as "Task View" on Windows 10), right click the taskbar and uncheck "Show Task View button."

7. Turn off all notifications

You can turn off annoying notifications so you can focus on your work. Go to Start, Settings then System and select "Notifications & actions" and turn off all the notifications there.

8. Defrag your PC

If you are still relying on a mechanical hard disk instead of a solid state drive (SSD), an old and good method of speeding up your Windows machine is to defragment the hard drive. You do not need to do this if you are using an SSD. Windows 7, 8 and 10 should automatically stop you from doing so if you are.

If you are running Windows 7 and above on a hard disk, your Windows is set to run defrag automatically on a regular basis and you will not need to defrag your PC. But if you have turned this feature off, or turn your PC off every time you finish using it, Windows might not have defragged your hard disk in a while, in which case you can do it manually.

In the taskbar's search box, type "defrag", select "Defragment and Optimise Drives" and select the disk you want to defrag.

The feature will tell you when a disk was last defragged, and whether or not you should optimise it now. If you are still not sure whether you should, select your drive and click "Analyse" first to check. If the percentage of fragmentation on the disk is above 10 per cent, it is recommended that you defrag it.