Clean Computer Files, Improve the Speed of Your Computer

Being a Systems Administrator and working with clients for years has given me an insight to some common questions. One of the most common things I see on a day to day basis is someone needing to clean computer files of old files, software, or just plain junk in general. There are a few steps to this and by following these, your computer will run a lot faster, you will have more space, and things will be less messy. Deleting junk files is a big deal, but do not forget that some files and folders delete content themselves.

Some folders accrue over time however and these do need to be emptied manually. The useless software also gets in the way when we are trying to move big files over or update a program. Running disk cleanup will help find some files we may have missed when clearing out everything. Make sure to keep your folders organized so that you can double check everything is still there after cleaning out your computer. Lastly, 3rd party software is always amazing because it makes things way easier. Below you will learn how to free up space on a computer and have it running like new again!

Delete Junk Files Manually and Safely

Okay, so first thing is first, deleting those old junk files. These steps are for someone who doesn’t necessarily trust 3rd party software or someone who wants a better understanding of what is cleaned up by disk cleanup or software. This is the most secure way to empty space on your computer because you and you alone are doing this.

Temp:

  1. Open the start menu
  2. Type “run”
  3. Type “temp”
  4. Go to the right upper corner and type “.tmp”
  5. Hit the keys “control + a”
  6. And “control + d”

This will clear your temp files from the Windows Temp folder. Basically, temp files are temporary files that store information when you browse a site and tons of other things store as temp files also. Let’s get to the next step!

Software Distribution:

  1.  Open the start menu
  2. Type “cmd”
  3. Right-click and select run as administrator
  4. Type “net stop wuauserv” (Keep cmd open as we will use again)
  5. Open File Explorer
  6. Navigate to the C: drive
  7. Go to Windows > SoftwareDistribution
  8. Open SoftwareDistribution
  9. Hit the keys “control + a”
  10. And “control + d”
  11. Open cmd up from step 4.
  12. Type “net start wuauserv”

Sometimes updates hang and Windows will keep pushing them out. This will cause the Software Distribution folder to gunk up and generate a lot of update logs. After doing this, you generally will want to go check your Windows update results and make sure you are up to date.

This sums it up for some of the biggest places I find junk folders when cleaning a system. Comment if you see I missed anything!

Uninstall Useless Software

Getting rid of software you do not use or software that companies pre-install is a big space holder for your hard drives. This is commonly referred to as “bloatware” and will cause major headaches. This is also a secure way to do this because you alone are responsible for what is deleted so be careful. If you do not know what it is, do not delete it. Find out what it is and then when you are sure, delete it. Let’s find those rascals!

  1. Open the start menu
  2. Type “control panel”
  3. Click “Uninstall a program”
  4. Go to the top menu bar and find the Size column
  5. Click on this and have the biggest sizes shown first (Example 60 GB > 55 GB)
  6. Go down this list and find programs you do not use anymore.
  7. Be 100% certain you do not use this program as you will be removing it from your computer.
  8. When you have found a program you want no longer, simply left click on it.
  9. Now right click it and click uninstall.
  10. Exhale.

This is really handy for finding programs you no longer use that are taking up disk space. 3rd party cleaners and disk cleanup will not delete these for you as these programs are under your control alone. They will give you options in the advanced menus however, we will get into that later.

Run Disk Cleanup Safely

This one is pretty simple but can take a while to perform. No worries though, you can still continue browsing on your computer during this.

  1. Open File Explorer
  2. Find the drive you want to format (like the C: drive)
  3. Right-click it and go down to properties
  4. Select disk cleanup in the bottom right corner
  5. Leave it to default if you are unsure of what to check
  6. Hit okay and then delete files.

This will find things you may have missed manually or this may find remnants of old files pertaining to uninstalled software. I do not really use this as much because if you do a good job manually, you do not have much left to worry about. This is also safe and you get a good idea of what you are deleting, but you have less control than you would manually.

Use 3rd Party Software to Clean Computer Files

This is where things can be quick and easy or scary. Some 3rd party programs are good, while others aren’t. The download locations for these are also fairly sketchy so be careful when installing 3rd party software. I am going to recommend two different types of software I utilize on a daily basis. CCleaner and Treesize Free. Both of these are free and effective. I will discuss the pros and cons of these below:

CCleaner Pros:

  • Relatively fast
  • Finds quite a bit of data to delete
  • Cleans internet browser files
  • Scan for registry fixes and clean up space there
  • Uninstall software from there
  • Run disk analyzer
  • Manage plugins
  • Manage startup processes

CCleaner Cons:

  • You may want to double check what is being deleted and be 100% sure
  • If you do not know what you are deleting, that could cause major problems to your system
  • Corrupt versions of CCleaner have come out. See below for more details.

It was recently announced that a malicious version of CCleaner (v5.33) was released directly from the vendor between August 15th and September 12th of 2017.

Please note that CCleaner can still be used in client environments (assuming it is using version 5.34 or newer). Verify that your CCleaner is not v5.33. It is in the top left corner.

Treesize Free:

This software is really awesome and is really simple to use. It shows you every file and how much space it is taking. It also shows you the exact location, but be careful because this is a very powerful tool. There are no real downsides because all this software does is simply show you what is where.

Cleaning Your Computer has Never Been Easier

I suggest doing all of these in succession. Each one has their own advantage and disadvantage. Going through and cleaning out your system is always a great idea that you probably will want to schedule. You generally want 20% of your disk space free on older SATA hard drives. The newer SSD hard drive does not really have this problem and you can get away with maybe 10% free of your drive. Deleting junk files manually is the safest way to go. Uninstalling software is where the big money is. You may have Android Studio or something massive that is taking an entire fourth of your space and by deleting that, you free up a ton of space. Disk cleanup is a safe alternative if you are not comfortable with anything else. It will cover the basics. 3rd party software is always great for someone who wants things more automated. Please feel free to comment and let me know if I missed anything.

 

-Pat

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About Pat 26 Articles
I love to play the drums, build websites, learn tech, and explore! My passion is music and technology. I want to be in the fast lane of life, not the slow lane or the sidewalk.

4 Comments

  1. Hey Pat! Thanks so much for this information. I’m not a techie per say, but the way you inform and guide us through this process is very simple. Although I don’t have a windows, this information will come in handy for when I do end up cleaning up my girlfriend’s computer. Thanks so much!

    • Hey Robby,

      You’re welcome and I am glad you found this easy to grasp. I want to help you guys and break things down on a simple level and to the point! Now go forth and impress your girlfriend with those cleaning skills! Thank you for reading!

      -Pat

  2. Thanks for the useful post Pat. This is good information for those of us that are a little less techy.

    I have this bad habit of saving things straight to my desktop. It seems like every three months or so I log into my computer and it will just look like garbage, so I have to do a purge/organization of files on my desktop. Do you have any recommendations for a file structure that would make it easier for me to get out of that habit. I really just end up saving to my desktop just out of laziness.

    • Anytime Dustin, glad I could help!

      I have 1 folder on my desktop which then goes down into subfolders, that goes down into subfolders. I try to stay organized with my file structure because I have been there where I save everything to my desktop. I will create a post on how to create a better file structure and I hope that it will help you! I also really recommend OneDrive, which I will try to break down later as well. It is useful if you work in different locations with a different computer. Thank you for the idea and I will definitely come up with something for you!

      -Pat

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