The beginning of the year is a great opportunity to take control of your computer. From the inside and the outside! You can clean your PC with the tips from this article, so that your system can take it again for a while.
You already knew that it is wise to give the computer periodic maintenance. We start under the hood: with the software. You may know disk cleaning, but did you know that this program does not reveal all options at first sight? There is more to clean up than you think. Open the Start menu and type Disk Cleanup. Check if the correct disk is selected and click OK to start the check. In the window that you see below, click on the button Clean up system files. The program performs a new, more thorough check.
In the results screen you have the choice to clean up even more parts, such as Clean up Windows Update (copies of all updates that are installed), Windows upgrade log files (useful in case of installation problems and otherwise) and Windows installation files (the original Windows installation files). Walk critically through the list and place check marks next to the parts that you want to clean up considerably. We easily won 3.5 to 5 GB of space on our test system.
OneDrive locally or not
There is a good chance that you now also save part of your files in the cloud, for example via the OneDrive built into Windows 10. Did you know that it is not necessary to also save all files locally? You can also only save part of the files online. You will see them appear nicely in the Explorer, but they will only be downloaded if you double-click them to open them. Especially for files that you do not use (often), but do want to keep, this is a pleasant way. Clean up the disk by marking files you don’t need as “only online.”
Right-click on the OneDrive cloud (next to the clock in the System Tray, click on the triangle to see all the icons if necessary) and choose Settings. Open the tab Account and click Choose folders. Remove the check mark Make all files visible and determine which folders should or should not be available locally. Then open the tab Settings and check the option Save space by downloading only the files that you use.
A little help in keeping your computer tidy will not hurt. Windows has Smart save in house: with this component you automatically free up space by cleaning unused files (such as temporary files and the contents of the Recycle Bin). The option is disabled by default: turn it on. Open the settings window (Windows key + I) and choose System, Storage. Set the slider up On at the option Save smartly. Click immediately Configure smart save or execute now. We put Storage insight Also immediately: Windows thinks along with you if the disk space is considerably reduced. You decide when this should be done, for example With insufficient disk space. In the section Temporary files indicate what needs to be done with the temporary files.
Then take a look Locally available cloud content. Here you can indicate that OneDrive files are automatically set to “online only” if you have not opened them for a certain period. For example, choose 14 days if you want to move local OneDrive files to the cloud after you have not opened them for 14 days. As we are impatient, we do not wait for the first time that the settings are made automatically, but we click on the button Clean up now to start the promotion immediately.
Find and delete large files
We want to get rid of large files that take up space and are not useful. First we look at which programs can better clear the field. Windows has a handy indicator for this. Open the settings window (Windows key + I) and choose Apps. Bee Apps and components Sort the list of apps by Size. The room guzzlers appear at the top of the list. Scroll through the list and remove the apps that you are not using. We then view the files on the computer. To get a quick overview of large files, we call on the help of the free TreeSize Free.
This program shows at a glance which files take up a lot of space: click on the button Select Directory and select the desired disc. Click on the column Size to sort by size. Delete files that are not needed and take up space. Be careful with system folders such as Users, Program Files and Windows: only remove files from this if you are sure that this will not hurt.
Back to factory settings
Has the computer become so polluted over time that you feel the strong need to start with a clean slate? Finally, you can consider returning the PC to the “factory state”. In Windows 10 this takes considerably less time than in the past. Open the settings window (Windows key + I) and choose Updating and security, System recovery. Press the button To work in the section Reset this PC. You can choose to keep your personal files, so that you have the best of both worlds: a clean environment, but not having to put the discomfort of all files back after the cleanup.
We move to the outside of the PC. Whether you are working on a laptop or desktop: take the tension off. So unplug and remove (laptop) battery. Then wipe the machine with a dust cloth. To remove greasy fingers on the outside, use a damp cloth.
Whether it’s your keyboard, the fan openings of your laptop or desktop or other hard-to-reach parts of your computer: a bottle of compressed air should not be missing in your cleaning cabinet. Use the compressed air to clean your keyboard and – if you use a desktop computer – to make the fans dust-free
Keep the can with air a few centimeters away from the surface that you want to make dust-free. Start with a steady stream of compressed air and then increase it until no more dust is released. Make sure the compressed air blows the dust out of the computer and not into it. Also prevent the fan blades from turning due to the air displacement: stop them while using the compressed air.
Never use a vacuum cleaner to clean the computer. After all, a computer is a precision instrument and a vacuum cleaner is too coarse for this. Use a cotton swab for hard-to-reach places.
If you are a more advanced user, you can unscrew the desktop cabinet and make all components individually dust-free, but for most situations you will get the machine clean as described. If you decide to open the computer after all, take into account static electricity and use an antistatic wristband.
Keyboard, mouse and screen
Use a microfiber cloth with cleaning alcohol or a damp cloth to clean the keyboard. Use the same routine for cleaning the mouse and use a cotton swab for the areas that are difficult to access.
The screen naturally also deserves the necessary attention, and with policy. We use a cleaning gel and a microfiber cloth for this. You will find various cleaning sets on the internet. Make horizontal or vertical movements when removing and never use force when brushing away an unevenness. Consider using cleaning alcohol or demineralized water and gently rub the dirt until it comes off.
Do not use paper (bag) wipes to prevent scratches. Also, do not use normal cleaning agents, but invest in a cleaning agent specifically intended for cleaning the screen. Your PC is now clean both internally and externally!