Time for some PC Winter Cleaning

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 20, 2007
Updated • Oct 14, 2015
Windows, Windows tips

It's becoming dark and cold outside which is in my opinion the best time for some serious PC winter cleaning. I'm optimizing my PC once every three months to make sure my computer runs stable and without any issues that may drag performance down.

This article will only look at the software and operating system and not on the hardware which can be optimized as well by looking for firmware and bios upgrades for example, or by cleaning system fans.

I always start by removing duplicate, temporary and unused files and applications first and optimize the hard drives at the end.

I use several applications to achieve all this, let us start with the first part of the PC Winter Cleaning:

Removing Duplicate, Temporary and Unused Files

1. I begin by looking through all the installed software programs on my computer and uninstall all those applications that I do not use anymore. This can be quite a lot and I use a software called MyUninstaller for this procedure. The main benefit of this program is that it can uninstall several installed applications at once and much faster than the Windows uninstaller. Programs that get removed are moved into the trashbin which we will clean later.

Alternatives to MyUninstaller are Safarp and Revo Uninstaller.

2. Now that we have removed the software that we do not want to use anymore we go on by compressing our Registry to remove any unused space in there. A smaller Registry loads faster during Windows startup. We use the software NTRegpOpt to optimize and compress the Registry.

3. I sometimes have large files on my hard drive that have been used previously but are not needed anymore. Creating a movie from footage that I took with my digital camcorder for instance creates temporary files which are not needed after burning the movie to DVD.

A software called Folder Size displays the size of every folder in Windows Explorer telling me exactly which folders use the most space on my hard drive. I take a look at those and get rid of files that I do not need anymore. I sometimes burn those files prior to deleting them to have a backup just in case.

4. It is now time to get rid of all those temporary files, leftovers from installations and caches that are not needed to run the system. I like to use Disk Cleaner or CCleaner for this purpose. It does not really make a difference which one you use, both get rid of Gigabytes of temporary files on my system usually. Just make sure you do not clean files that you are going to miss afterwards, one thing that I do not clean for instance are Internet cookies that save login information.

With the temporary files gone we have our hard drives right were we want them. Now we can begin defragmenting them to improve performance.

5. I sometimes use a Duplicate Cleaner to find file duplicates and remove them from my system as well.

6. Getting rid of startup program. Some applications like to place themselves in the startup folder of Windows during installation so that they are loaded during Windows startup. This slows down the startup procedure and wastes resources if you do not use the software every time.

I like to use Autoruns to check startup programs and deactivate them. Another great software that is probably better suited for beginners is called Starter.

Optimize Hard Drives

1. Before we begin defragmenting the hard drives we have to make sure that they do not contain any errors.

For that purpose we use Scan Disk to scan them thoroughly and defragment them afterwards. Scan Disk is a build in Windows tool that can be accessed by right-clicking the hard drive and selecting properties from the menu.

You find the Error-Checking function in the Tools tab.

2. I do not like to use the build in Windows defragmention tool because it is slow and has a Windows 98 like interface.

A far superior software is Defraggler or Disk Defrag from Auslogic.

Let them defrag all of your hard drives to optimize performance.

3. Last but not least I use Page Defrag to defragment the pagefile.

Do you have additional tips that clean the system even further or different applications that do the job ? Let me know.

Time for some PC Winter Cleaning
Article Name
Time for some PC Winter Cleaning
A detailed guide on optimizing a PC running Windows by removing unneeded files and other data that is no longer required to operate the machine.

Tutorials & Tips

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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):


  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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