How to optimize Windows 10 for free

Is your computer starting to act up and slowing down noticeably? Here are some tricks to optimize its resources and get it back to its former glory

One of the best things about a new PC is that it's fast and responsive, not only because it mounts modern hardware but also because it has a clean operating system and plenty of free disk space. That's why, even when you reinstall Windows, on the first reboot your machine is visibly faster.

With time and daily use your computer fills up with useless files, your disk gets fragmented, your operating system gets filled with applications that run in the background and so on. To speed up and optimize Windows you can find literally hundreds of applications designed to do just that: delete unnecessary files, defragment your disk, disable applications that steal RAM memory. But if your operating system is Windows 10, you don't really need these third-party softwares: Microsoft's latest operating system already integrates a lot of utilities that are good enough to do the bulk of the cleaning and optimization work.

The only real problem with these tools is that on Win 10 there is no unique and automated functionality to do all the optimization tasks with a single click. You need to know where to put your hand and what to do to get the desired result. We tell you how to do it.

Delete unnecessary temporary files and empty the recycle bin

The first thing you need to do to optimize Windows 10 at no cost is to delete unnecessary files, to free up disk space and then proceed to defragmentation. Most likely the application that is creating the most temporary files is your browser, so go into the settings of this software and delete the cache, temporary files and all downloads that you don't really need. Then go into the Windows System Properties, go to "System Protection" and then "Configure". Here you'll find all the Windows Restore Points: if your operating system is stable you can delete them all, freeing up a lot of space. Finally, empty the Recycle Bin to remove the files you deleted manually.

Defragment your hard drive

After deleting all unnecessary files your hard drive, be it a magnetic disk or an SSD, will be full of holes left by data that is no longer there. If on modern SSDs this is not a problem, on old magnetomechanical disks it is and how: jumping from one record to another slows down writing and reading operations very much. For this you have to use the Windows Disk Defragmentation utility. In Windows Explorer, right click on the disk you want to defragment, then "Properties" and then "Tools". There you'll find "Drive optimization and defragmentation", which will launch the utility in question. You can also schedule automatic disk optimization by setting the date and time of the tool's execution.

Enable Storage Sense

Storage Sense, in Italian "Memory Sensor", is a kind of "Clean up utility" built into Windows 10: it automatically deletes unnecessary files when the share of free space on the disk falls below a threshold that you can set. You can activate it by typing "Storage" in the Start menu search box and then clicking on "Change the way space is freed automatically".

Block apps that steal your RAM

If until now you've optimized hard drive management, now comes the turn of the processor and RAM. Most likely at least one of the apps that run automatically when Windows 10 starts consumes too much RAM or keeps the CPU unnecessarily busy. You can find out which one by opening the Windows Task Manager. Right-click on a free area of the Start menu bar and then open "Task Manager". Here you'll see all the running applications, with the percentage of CPU, memory, disk, network and GPU they're using indicated for each of them. Click on each column and the apps will be sorted according to the consumption of that parameter, letting you see in a flash which apps are the heaviest. To speed up Windows you'll have to remove them, if they're not strictly necessary.

Use a good antivirus

The last tip to optimize Windows 10 is to use a good security suite equipped with an effective and always updated antivirus. It's true that these software steal some of your PC's resources to constantly monitor your activities for possible threats, but it's also true that an excessive and sudden computer slowdown is one of the classic symptoms of a virus infection.