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Step-by step guide on cleaning Windows 10 to make it shine.

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Every Windows installation accumulates junk over time that takes up space, and wastes resources. Regular maintenance can be easy to forget. Many times the problem is caused by old programs and files.

You will soon notice a decrease in disk space and slow down if you don’t clean up your computer. Let’s take a look at how to clean Windows 10 and Windows 11 using different tools depending on the situation.

Step 1: Get rid of Temporary Junk

Windows 10 and 11 come with a pair similar tools to clean out temporary files. This means you don’t have to use a separate Windows cleaner app. These tools are a great place to start your Windows cleanup.

Disk Cleanup

The Disk Cleanup tool is a classic option if you don’t mind a traditional interface. You can access it by entering Disk Cleaning in the Start menu, and then selecting the disk to be cleaned.

After a while, Windows will display a list with unneeded files that it can clean up. If you are an administrator, click the Clean Up System Files button to run a scan for other types of data.

With a few exceptions, you can delete almost any category of data found here. Downloads will delete all data in the folder if you are using an older version of Windows 10. If you aren’t sure you don’t need anything, you might want to avoid cleaning the Recycle Bin.

You’ll notice a Previous Windows install(s) entry if you have recently upgraded to a major version of Windows. This will delete the 10 day old files Windows keeps. These files allow you to quickly go back to an older version. It is important to not remove the Windows ESD Installation files option. This is because it allows you to reset your computer via Settings.

For more information on specific items that you can remove using disk Cleanup, see Windows Folders You Can Delete to Save Space

Storage Sense

Windows 10 and Windows 11 offer similar functionality for Disk Cleanup. However, the interface is a bit more user-friendly at Settings> System> Storage. To automatically clean out files when you have less disk space, or whenever it is necessary, you can use the storage Sense option. To modify these options, click Configure storage Sense or run it now.

In the list of what’s using space on your PC, click Temporary files You can also delete the same data as Disk Cleanup. Show more This article provides additional information about data types that don’t take up as much space.

Step 2: Delete large files

After you have deleted unnecessary files, the next step in cleaning Windows 10 is to remove any data that is taking up too much space. Download TreeSize to help you find the largest files in your storage.

After installation, search for TreeSize in the Start Menu. Launch it by using the Administrator link to scan all locations. Select Select Directory from the top-left, and then choose your main storage drive.

After a while, you will see a visual representation of your computer’s storage. The largest files are at the top. To expand by one level, click the dropdown arrow next to any folder.

The Users and Windows will be the largest folders. You can’t do much in the Windows directory that won’t cause problems (or strong>Program Files (x86)), but let’s take a look at the other folders.

Uninstall Big Programs

You’ll find the files for almost all of your apps under program Files and/or program Files (x86), on 64 bit Windows. To uninstall these apps, go to Settings > Applications > Apps and features.

Reduce Large Items in Your User Folder

Most space-hogging files will be found in your account folder, Users. This folder contains documents, photos, videos, etc.

The AppData directory, where many apps store preferences and information, will likely take up a lot of space. Here, caches for Chrome and Spotify can take up many gigabytes.

If you look at the files, you may find some low-hanging fruits. You can either delete files that you don’t use anymore or transfer data to an external drive. You can use the preference panels of Dropbox to delete files that you don’t want. They are always accessible via the web interface.

TreeSize might also show large files such as WinSxS. If you are having trouble managing large WinSxS files , please refer to our guide.

Step 3: Remove all bloatware from Windows 10.

Most store-bought computers contain useless bloatware, which wastes space and duplicates the functionality already found in Windows. Windows 10 also includes junk apps that you may never use.

Bloatware is a problem that you need to get rid of. This is an essential part of Windows 10 cleanup. For more information, see our guide to removing Windows 10 bloatware.

Step 4: Clean Your Desktop

Even if you have cleared out all your apps and files, a messy desktop can cause confusion and make it difficult to work effectively. People use their desktops as temporary storage spaces, which can lead to all kinds of files being scattered about.

To make your desktop look cleaner, you can “reset” it. Move all files from your desktop and move them to another place. Next, create shortcuts for files that you use all the time on your desktop.

The Fences application is worth a look if you have too many files. You can combine desktop icons from different sources, hide or show them all with just a few clicks and many other powerful features.

You’ll feel like you’ve got a brand new computer after you clean up Windows 10 and your desktop. If you are interested, we have a more detailed guide to cleaning up Windows 10 and your desktop.

If Necessary: Refresh Windows 10

Perhaps you have decided that your computer is so bad that you don’t want to spend the time to clean it up. You can also use the built-in option to reinstall Windows.

You may be familiar with the Reset this Computer option in the recovery settings. This will not restore your computer to the state it was in when you first got it. You can try another method to avoid this.

Click the same to use it Get started Click the button Recovery menu. Choose Keep my files Choose whether you want to download or reinstall locally. Next, select settings and make sure that you choose No For How do I restore apps that were already installed?

This is the Fresh Start equivalent of the Device performance and health section in Windows Security app older Windows 10 versions. It will reinstall Windows 10 and update it to the most recent version. Additionally, it will delete all existing apps. Your personal files and “some Windows setting” are deleted.

Windows claims to protect them, but backups are essential in the event of a problem. It is also a good idea to keep track of any license keys that you will need to activate software again after the refresh.

It will take time to manually reinstall all of your programs. It might be worthwhile to clean up a messy computer.

Avoid fake cleaning apps

It’s important to be cautious about what cleaning software you install while we are discussing Windows 10/11 cleanups. Although the tools mentioned above are legitimate methods to clean your computer, there are many fraudulent “PC cleaners” online that are completely worthless (such the one shown in the video).

A free scan with these tools reveals thousands of issues. They also absurdly count every cookie stored on your computer as an “internet privacy risk.” They then demand that you spend a lot of money to “clean up” any issues.

This nonsense is not worth your time. These tools will suffice to clear out any unnecessary files. You may feel the need for more, check out our ultimate Windows Cleaning Checklist.

Windows 10 is now cleaner than ever!

This is how you clean your computer. Now you know how to remove large files from Windows 10. These steps should be enough to clear up large and unnecessary files on Windows 10. You shouldn’t be concerned about low disk space warnings if you keep up with them.

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