The health of your computer is just as much a matter of software as it is about hardware. As time goes by, a variety of tiny problems can accumulate – files get jumbled about, programs that aren’t updated experience slowdowns, undetected viruses bog down performance, and overall your computer will just feel sluggish compared to when it was new.
That’s why having a regular computer tuneup cycle is important, addressing these and many other concerns to ensure that your computer is in tiptop shape. Not only will your device be faster after a tuneup, it’ll also be better protected against data loss, as well as malicious software and intruders.
Having a professional do your computer tuneup is a great idea, but they often charge an arm and a leg for their services. If you’re up for it, you could try doing it yourself! The steps you need to take aren’t extremely complicated and most can be done with free software. All you’ll need is a little virtual elbow grease and some patience.
Here are some of the most important steps you should take when performing a DIY computer tuneup.
Backup your data
Before you do anything else, it’s important to create a backup of your files. Doing this won’t explicitly make your computer faster, but backing up your data is always important to any user of any device. Even if you avoid every possible freak accident or power surge, hard drives and other storage devices won’t last forever. It’s also especially important to back up before you make big changes to your computer – while this DIY guide won’t do anything too crazy, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
For your most essential files, consider following the industry 3-2-1 rule of backups:
Keep three backups, two on-site (such as at home), and one off-site (anywhere but home).
You could do manual backups onto an external drive or the cloud, but that can take up a lot of time, and if you miss or forget a backup cycle you could lose data. It’s better to use Windows’s onboard tools to keep regular copies of your files automatically.
To do this, fire up the Start Menu and click on the Settings icon, which is a little gear icon above the Power button to the lower left.
From here, click on Update and Security, then select the “Backup” option on the sidebar.
Turn on the option labeled “Automatically back up my files,” then click “More options.”
You may customize your update frequency, folders to be backed up, and select a backup drive.
Update all your frequently used software
Really, ideally you should be updating all of your software, but just the frequently-used ones should be enough. Windows does this by itself in the background, but it’s helpful to check every once in a while. This is important because software updates might not only help speed up your PC, but may also contain patches that protect against security flaws. You can check if your installed software needs updating by using Kaspersky Free Software Updater.
Uninstall unused and unnecessary software
Programs you don’t use may sometimes have background processes that eat away at your PC’s performance. It’s difficult to tell whether a program is running in the background if you’re not experienced, so just to be safe, it’s best to uninstall software that you no longer use. You’ll free up disk space and peace of mind as well.
One great way to do this automatically is to use the software PC Decrapifier, which can help you remove programs that are known to slow your PC down without being particularly useful.
Fix your startup items
A lot of little programs automatically start up along with your operating system whenever you boot your PC. You should check on these and make sure that only the ones you really need are on the startup list. Having a lot of startup items not only slows down the time it takes to turn your PC on, but they could be running in the background and slow down your PC if left unchecked.
You can check on your startup items by going to the Task Manager.
Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc, and navigate to the Startup tab.
From here, you’ll see all the programs that load whenever you boot up Windows, along with how much they affect your startup time.
Enable or disable them as you need, though you should be careful about touching items whose purpose you don’t know!
A safer bet would be to use the aforementioned PC Decrapifier to help you manage your startup items, as it can provide recommendations for what to remove.
Do a regular virus scan
Viruses have been a problem for computer users for decades, and they’re not going away any time soon. Commit to the regular scan schedule that your virus scanner automatically sets up. For most people, the built-in virus scanner in Windows should be sufficient to handle threats, but it wouldn’t hurt to get a third-party suite.
Open your Start Menu and type “Windows Defender” then select “Windows Defender Security Settings.”
From here, check the sidebar for “Virus and threat protection” and run a scan.
You can also set a regular scan schedule from here, though Windows often already has one set up for you.
Our virus removal team will secure your computer from future threats.
Defragment your drive
Somewhat related to hard drive errors is the concept of fragmentation. While fragmentation isn’t an error in itself, it’s what happens when files that are related to each other become physically separated on the surface of the hard drive. This means that when they’re accessed together, it becomes slower to get anything done. Fragmentation accumulates over time, so you should defragment your hard drive on a regular basis, or set up an automatic schedule for it. Modern operating systems do try to defragment drives while idle, but it’s not always effective. Keep in mind that you should never defragment a drive if you’re using a solid state drive, or SSD, because there’s no benefit to it and you might wear out your SSD!
To defragment your hard drive, open the Start Menu and type “Defragment,” then select “Defragment and Optimize Drives.”
You’ll be able to perform manual defragmentation cycles for each of your hard drives.
If you have any solid state drives, you’ll also get the option to Optimize them, though generally, you should leave this to Windows.
Scan your hard drive for errors
Errors can accumulate in your hard drive as time passes, due to botched file transfers, power outages, and any number of mistakes. These can build up over time to seriously slow down your PC whenever it has to read or write data that’s stored in an area filled with errors. You even risk data loss if this is allowed to persist. Regularly use the built-in hard drive error scanner in your operating system, especially after an improper shutdown.
To run a disk check, open any Explorer window or Folder, and select This PC. Right click on the disk you want to check for errors, then select “Properties.” Navigate to the “Tools” tab and click “Check.”
Delete unused files
It’s something of a misconception that having a full hard drive will slow your PC down. Your OS already allocates a set amount of space that it uses for its own purpose, so you don’t need to worry about it being too full to act. However, deleting unused files will be helpful in reducing the files that can be fragmented, and even free up space for you. Some software may also be sped up by deleting unused files, such as browser temporary cache.
To free up your disk space, download and run CCleaner. It’ll analyze your drive for unused and unnecessary files and allow you to choose what to delete.