10 ways to clean your hard drive

10 ways to clean your hard drive

Make Windows faster and more reliable by performing a set of simple household chores to keep it lean and mean

It’s frustrating trying to find things in a house full of clutter and the same can be said for your PC. The messier it gets, the longer it takes your computer to get stuff done and the more likely it is to crash during the process. So, we’ve come up with some simple steps to help you maintain and tidy up your PC, leading to a faster, more stable experience.

1. Disk Cleanup

The Disk Cleanup tool helps remove redundant files from your computer. You access it by clicking Start and selecting Computer. Right-click your hard drive icon and choose Properties, then click the Disk Cleanup button. Once your drive has been scanned, a list of files will appear. Choose one to find out more about the files then tick the items you want to clean.

2. Clean up system file

To clean up more files using Disk Cleanup, click the Cleanup System Files button. If Service Pack Backup Files is available, and your PC is functioning well, select it and you’ll save more disk space. Choose More Options and choose to delete all but the most recent restore point to claw back even more space. Finally, click OK to clean your computer.

3. Disk check

It’s a good idea to ensure that your hard drive is working properly. Disks can pick up software errors that stop data being managed effectively, or they can have physical damage on the disk surface. From the same disk properties dialogue you used to open Disk Cleanup, switch to the Tools tab. Click Check now, under Error Checking, and tick both options. Click Start then restart your computer for the check to take place. It takes a bit of time so be patient.

4. Remove unnecessary programs

Getting rid of programs you don’t use can also help keep your PC ticking over in trim condition. Choose Start > Control Panel > Uninstall a program. When the program list appears, look for applications you definitely don’t use – if in doubt, leave it alone. To remove a program, select it and click the Uninstall button, then follow the wizard to delete it from your PC.

5. Defragment disk

Fragmented data basically means files that are stored in multiple pieces, scattered all over your hard drive. It takes your drive longer to stitch the files back together, which increases the wear and tear on it and reduces its lifespan. Defragging the drive fixes this problem, speeding up performance and protecting your hard drive.

Windows 7 and Vista automatically defrag your drive once a week. For XP users, you need to choose Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter. Select the drive to process and choose Analyze disk, followed by Defragment Disk, if necessary. Note you should not defragment a SSD (solid-state drive), if you’ve fitted one in your PC.

6. Startup items

Many programs are set to start automatically with your PC, but if too many are installed your computer will take longer to start. You’ll also find the overall performance of your PC is reduced, as too many programs are using up its resources.

To manage which programs start with Windows, download a free program called Autoruns. For a guide to using Autoruns to remove unwanted programs from startup, click here.

7. Windows update

For optimum performance, you need to keep Windows up to date. Important updates usually install automatically, but optional ones can improve performance too. Choose Start > All Programs > Windows Update and click Check for updates. When the scan completes, check the optional updates offered and install any you think might be useful.

8. Update drivers

The latest driver updates can improve performance, fix bugs and add new features. Check the optional section of Windows Update for the latest driver updates for your Advent PC.

9. Indexing options

Click Start, type indexing options into the Search box and press [Enter]. Choose Modify and pick which folders and drives you want to index, to speed up future searches. If you index too many areas, overall performance is reduced, so try and get the right balance by choosing folders you might need to search in the future.

10. Visual effects

Right-click Computer on the Start Menu and choose Properties. Select Advanced System Settings. Under Performance, choose Settings. Select Adjust for best performance and click OK to turn off all visual effects but improve overall speed.