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Five things you can do to maintain your Windows 10 or Windows 11 computer

We all want to keep our computers running smoothly, but to do that, we need to perform maintenance periodically. So here are five (5) things you can do to keep your Windows 10 or Windows 11 computer running smoothly.

Five things you can do to maintain your Windows 10 or Windows 11 computer

If you are anything like me, you expect your computer always to be running at 100%, ready to work at a moment's notice. And it is possible to get that level of performance, but it does require regular maintenance.

I use all of the procedures outlined in this article on average of once a month, and I will usually perform these tasks at the end of the workday or on the weekend. That way, I minimize the loss of production time.

Check for corrupt system files

This is the first thing I do when I notice a system not running normally. If fact, this is one of the first things we do when a Windows-based computer comes into the shop. With the number of system files Windows uses, file corruption is quite common.

Check Windows 10 system files with System File Checker

How to check and repair system files in Windows 11

Check for drive errors

The next thing I do is check for errors in the file system. Just like scanning for corrupt system files, checking the rest of the files and folders on the drive is essential. A quick check every month is excellent preventative maintenance.

How to check your drive for errors in Windows 10

How to check your drive for errors in Windows 11

Clean up unnecessary Windows folders and files

Now that we have checked for system/file errors on the drive, let's start cleaning up the unnecessary files that accumulate. A couple of different programs built into Windows can do a great job of cleaning up Windows 10 or Windows 11.

Clean up Windows 10 with Disk Cleanup

Clean up your Windows 10 computer using the Storage feature

Clean up Windows 11 with Storage Sense and Disk Cleanup

Clear out your browser cache

Once we clean up all of the miscellaneous Windows files, we need to clean up our browser(s). Internet browsers, like Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, use a cache of websites they have visited to speed up browsing.

But the problem is the browsers do not empty the cache automatically, so left unattended, a browser cache can become extremely large. Periodic clearing of your browser cache is highly recommended.

There is a benefit to cleaning out your browser cache; you will be removing any old website data. This can help if you have difficulty logging into a website, as any saved website data will be purged.

How to clean up and reset Google Chrome

How to clean up and reset Mozilla Firefox

How to clean up and reset Microsoft Edge

Defragment and optimize your drive

And finally, after checking for errors and cleaning up files, we need to ensure that the files and folders are in their correct location. If you use the advanced way of running Defrag, you can optimize the boot performance.

How to defragment and optimize your drive in Windows 10

How to defragment and optimize your drive in Windows 11

Clean up Windows 11 with Storage Sense and Disk Cleanup

Are you running out of free space on your Windows 11 computer? Or maybe you would like to clean up all the clutter that can build up over time? If so, here is how to clean and free up space on Windows 11 using Storage Sense and Disk Cleanup.

Clean up Windows 11 with Storage Sense and Disk Cleanup

Windows 11 has two (2) built-in programs that you can use to clean up Windows 11; Storage Sense and Disk Cleanup. They both have similar features, and they both can be run manually or automatically.

Note: Both of these programs will permanently delete files on your computer, so you need to be careful what you decide to clean up. Remember, once you delete a file or files with either one of these programs, you cannot get them back.

Storage Sense

The Storage Sense feature inside of Windows 11 Settings

Storage Sense is relatively new, as it first appeared in Windows 10 version 1809. It is relatively simple to use, as it only has a few settings that you can change.

Storage Sense can be run automatically when your computer starts to run out of free space or every day, week, or month. It can delete files in your Recycle Bin and Downloads folder based on how long those files have been there. You can run Storage Sense manually too.

How to open Storage Sense in Windows 11

  1. Left-click on the Start Windows logo key button to bring up the Start menu.
  2. In the list of pinned apps on the Start menu, left-click on Settings.
  3. Scroll down the right-hand column and left-click on Storage.
  4. In the right-hand column, left-click on Storage Sense.

Disk Cleanup

The Disk Cleanup program inside of Windows 11

Disk Cleanup has been inside Windows for some time now and has far more options for cleaning up Windows 11. And there are two (2) ways to run Disk Cleanup, which I refer to as Standard and Advanced.

Disk Cleanup can clean up user and system files, ranging from the Recycle Bin and temporary Internet files for users to Windows Update and thumbnails for the system.

The Standard way to run Disk Cleanup

  1. Left-click on the Start button Windows logo to bring up the Start menu.
  2. In the upper right-hand corner of the Start menu, left-click on All apps.
  3. Scroll down the list of programs and left-click on Windows Tools.
  4. Left-click on Disk Cleanup.

or

  1. Open File Explorer using one of the following:
    • Left-click on the File Explorer icon (manilla folder) on the Taskbar.
    • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo + E at the same time.
    • Use the Power User menu by right-clicking on the Start Windows logo button and selecting File Explorer.
  2. In the left-side column, left-click on This PC.
  3. In the right-side column, right-click on the drive you want to optimize and select Properties.
  4. On the General tab, left-click on the Disk Cleanup button.

If you started Disk Cleanup from the Windows Tools shortcut and have more than one (1) drive inside your computer, you may be prompted for which drive you want to clean up.

From the dialog box that appears, you will see a list of user files that can be deleted. If you are looking to clean up your user profile, select the files you want to delete and left-click on the OK button.

If you want to clean up system files, then left-click on the Clean up system files button. If this is the drive with Windows installed on it, you will have several more file options to choose from. Select the files you want to clean up and left-click on the OK button.

The Advanced way to run Disk Cleanup

Using the advanced way of starting Disk Cleanup will give you all of the user and system settings options. And you can also use Task Scheduler to run the advanced Disk Cleanup settings on a schedule you set.

The first thing you need to do is open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges. Note: The full name of Disk Cleanup is cleanmgr.exe, but you only need to use cleanmgr in the Admin Command Prompt.

How to open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows 11

In the Admin Command Prompt, type the following and then press Enter.

cleanmgr

This will start Disk Cleanup, just like starting it from the Windows Tools shortcut. But you can use command-line switches to get all of the options (user and system). You can use several different command-line switches with cleanmgr, but you will only need to use two; /sageset:n and /sagerun:n.

cleanmgr /sageset:n

/sageset:n - This switch displays the Disk Cleanup settings dialog box and creates a registry key to store the settings you select. The n value is stored in the registry and allows you to specify different tasks for Disk Cleanup to run. The n value can be any integer value from 0 to 65535. To get all the available options when using the /sageset switch, you may need to specify the drive letter that contains the Windows installation.

cleanmgr /sagerun:n

/sagerun:n - This switch runs the specified tasks assigned to the n value using the /sageset switch. All drives in the computer will be enumerated, and the selected profile will be run against each drive.

How to create a Scheduled Task to run Disk Cleanup

First, you will need to have created a preset configuration using the /sageset:n switch. Then open Task Scheduler and create a new task.

  1. Left-click on the Start button Windows logo to bring up the Start menu.
  2. In the upper right-hand corner of the Start menu, left-click on All apps.
  3. Scroll down the list of programs and left-click on Windows Tools.
  4. Left-click on Task Scheduler.
  5. In the right column labeled Actions, select Create Basic Task. The Create a Basic Task Wizard will appear.
  6. Give the task a name and description, and then select Next.
  7. Select when you want it to run (trigger).
  8. When prompted for what task you want to perform, select Start a program, then select Next.
  9. When prompted for a program/script to start, select Browse and navigate to C:\Windows\System32\ and select cleanmgr.exe.
  10. In the Add arguments section, type /sagerun:n and then select Next.
  11. Then select Finish, and you're all set.

You can also create a shortcut with the cleamgr /sagerun:n command, that way, you can run it manually whenever you want.

Clean up your Windows 10 computer using the Storage feature

Have you ever gotten a low disk space warning on your Windows 10 computer? Do you wish you could quickly and easily clean up the unwanted temporary files and the recycle bin? If so, look no further than the Storage feature inside of Windows 10.

Clean up your Windows 10 computer using the Storage options

For years now, I have been using the Disk Cleanup program inside of each version of Windows. It has been an easy way to clean up the junk (temporary files, Internet cache, recycle bin, etc.) that can build up in Windows.

But finding the Disk Cleanup program to run it can be a little tricky. There are multiple ways to run it when you find it, which can get confusing for a novice computer user.

Thankfully, Microsoft has integrated most of the functionality of Disk Cleanup into the Storage feature inside the Windows 10 Settings program. And getting to the Storage feature could not be any easier.

The Storage feature inside of Windows 10 Settings

How to get to Storage feature in Windows 10

  1. Left-click on the Start Windows logo menu and left-click on the Gear (Settings) icon. It should be the second icon up from the bottom.
  2. Left-click on the System category
  3. In the left-hand column, left-click on Storage. All of the storage options will appear in the right-hand column.

Note: All files removed using the Storage feature are permanently deleted, so be careful what files you choose to delete. Remember that once you delete a file, it is gone for good.

There are two (2) sections under the Storage area. The first is Storage Sense, with only a slider switch to turn it on or off and a button to bring up the configuration page.

Introduced in Windows 10 version 1809, Storage Sense is a simple 'Set and Forget' utility that can automatically clean out files you do not need anymore, like files in your Downloads folder and the recycle bin.

Storage Sense can automatically clean out a user's Downloads folder and recycle bin on a preset schedule. You can set it up to run automatically every day, every week, every month, or only when you start to run out of free disk space. You can also run it manually whenever you need to free up some disk space quickly.

The second section is part of the Storage Reserve. Storage Reserve allocates space to facilitate proper performance and successful updates to Windows 10. This section lists the drives currently attached to your computer and how that storage is being distributed. That includes all fixed or removable HDDs, SSDs, and USB external drives.

Every drive has a status bar that shows the used / free space. Below the drive status bar, you will find the categories of different types of files that can be safely deleted. You may have to click on the 'Show more categories' button to view all available categories.

The list of categories is pretty extensive, so it may take some time to go through each one. The categories range from system & reserved, apps & features, and all of the special folders (Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, and Videos).

Each category has also has a status bar that shows how much space those particular files are taking up. When you click on a category listed under a drive, you will be taken to another page with more options for that category.

Now when you click on the Temporary files category, you will be presented with a selection of options of which files you want to clean up. These are similar to the categories used in Disk Cleanup.

Remember that the majority of the items listed under Temporary files can be safely deleted. You may not want to remove all the files you have in your Downloads folder, so you might think about cleaning that folder up manually with File Explorer.

Also, if you choose the Windows Update Cleanup option, the clean-up process will happen the next time you reboot your computer. So be prepared for a longer boot time the next time you restart your computer.

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