Spring has sprung, and it’s time to give your PC a cleaning . Whether you are using a desktop, laptop, tablet or ultrabook, these more advanced tips will help revive your system.
1. Get rid of old Windows folders if you’ve upgraded the OS.
If you’ve moved to a newer Windows version, for example, from Windows 7 to Windows 8, you may want to remove the backup of your previous Windows installation, which can take up quite a bit of disk space. The “Windows.old” folder is located in the root directory of your drive C: This should only be deleted if everything seems to be working well and you don’t think you want to restore your previous Windows version.
On my Samsung Series 7, which I upgraded from Windows 7 SP1 to Windows 8, I was able to save 1.82 GB. The other machines were all clean installs of new OSs, so there was nothing to delete.
2. Find huge files and hidden disk hogs.
This tip can, on some machines, have the biggest impact on disk space. Your hard disk is likely cluttered with huge files and folders that you probably forgot about. Let me give you an example of how I lost several GB and didn’t even notice it until I ran out of disk space.
Several months ago, a friend of mine and multimedia enthusiast, sent me a Blu-ray disc with menus, bonus features, pictures, etc. of his wedding. I wanted to take the video with me on the road, so I hooked up an external Blu-ray drive to my MacBook and used a Blu-ray to MKV converting tool to copy the material—with the best possible HD quality—to my hard disk. I ran the tool overnight but had totally forgotten about the MKV. The result: I had roughly 15.4 GB of a freshly converted video file sitting around in a folder called “VSOBLurayConverter” under “My Documents” (a Windows folder I don’t use!).
To find this monstrous hidden file, I first used Windows Search. I opened up Windows-Explorer and typed in “*.* size:>huge”. I selected the check boxes under “Advanced options” that say “File contents”, “System files” and “Zipped/compressed folders”, and hit Enter. With this search result, I was able to quickly see which files were taking up the most disk space. Unfortunately, Windows Search was able to find only a few of the larger files on the disk. That’s why I used another option.
TuneUp Disk Space Explorer’s “Top 100 files” feature helps organize your hard disk. However, I used it to uncover the largest files on mine. You can find this easy-to-understand view in TuneUp Utilities 2013 under “Clean up computer”, “Find and delete large amounts of data” and “Top 100 files”. Just right-click on a file and hit “Delete” to clean up your system.
Using both Windows Search and the TuneUp Disk Space Explorer’s “Top 100” feature, I was able to find files again, didn’t know about or had no idea what their file sizes actually were. These included high-resolution photos or raw photo footage, TV shows and movies (for example, via iTunes), and apps and smartphone backup files, which are automatically created during the PC to smartphone synchronization process.
Hunting down these files manually can be a time suck. With TuneUp Disk Space Explorer, you can find such massive disk space hogs in no time.
Like I mentioned previously, I tested these more advanced spring cleaning tips on three different machines, to determine how much disk space they could save me. On my main machine, a MacBook Air, I got rid of 62.6 GB. In addition to the 15 GB video file, I found two virtual PCs (Windows XP SP3 and Windows Vista) that I didn’t need any longer and that consumed another 35 GB. Plus, I found several large ZIP files and TV shows that I had backed up onto an external disk.
On the Alienware X51, I found several additional downloads for my games, such as Crysis Texture packs and benchmark setup files, that I didn’t need and ended up saving a total of 7GB. And although I rarely stored larger files on my Samsung Series 7 due to its smaller SSD, I still was able to find and delete 1.2 GB of videos and music. Hint: Always have a look inside your PC’s “Downloads” folder, which is used by default by your browser. It might contain files that you don’t need anymore.
3. Clean out the Windows Search cache.
The Windows Search index is quite a neat feature. It keeps a database of program shortcuts, emails, personal files and more. Instead of searching the hard disk, it just browses the index and presents you with instant search results.
However, this database can rapidly grow and become corrupted over time, which leads to incorrect or incomplete search results. Clean the Windows Search index once every two to three months and rebuild it regularly. You can do this by opening up Windows Control Panel and typing “Search” in the search bar.
Click on “Indexing Options”, go to “Advanced”, and hit the “Rebuild” button. This will completely rebuild the entire cache.
As I put all of my main files onto the MacBook Air, the Windows Search cache clocked in at about 1.2 GB. For all of you geeks out there, the index is located under “%programdata%\Microsoft\Search\Data\Applications\Windows”. My Samsung Series 7 had a relatively small index of just 200 MB, so there was not much to gain, and the Alienware X51 had the index turned off altogether since it’s a pure entertainment machine and there’s no need for me to search through large folders.
4. Clean up dead shortcuts and invalid history entries.
Media Player, Office, Nero, Windows….they all have their own list of “recently used” files, which may contain dead links. If you’re trying to access such a file, you’ll get an error message. The same goes for a dead start menu and desktop shortcuts.
Thankfully, TuneUp Shortcut Cleaner can help with this. Head over to the “Clean up computer” category and go to “Remove broken shortcuts”. Let TuneUp Utilities scan your PC and remove all of the invalid entries.
What’s nice is that the software’s Automatic Maintenance tool, which runs in the background, or the 1-Click-Maintenance feature gets rid of such shortcuts on a regular basis and help you gain a few KB in the process.
5. Use Windows’ hidden disk cleanup tool.
Catch any data junk left over on your system with this tool. Unfortunately, the entire set of features is hidden by default. To launch the built-in Windows’ Disk Cleanup tool with all of its options enabled, you’ll need to create a special shortcut—right-click on your desktop, select “New/Shortcut”, and type in the following command.
|%SystemRoot%\System32\Cmd.exe /c Cleanmgr /sageset:65535 &Cleanmgr /sagerun:65535|
Click “Next”, name it “Disk Cleanup Ultimate” (or any other name you would like), and then click “Finish”. Double-click on the shortcut to launch Disk Cleanup.
Check all of the files you would like to delete. If you’re not sure what these options mean, simply highlight one and read the description.
So what did I gain? Only roughly 100 MB per machine, since TuneUp Disk Cleaner already did a pretty good job at cleaning my systems. But, this is a step I would perform at least once a month to make sure my PCs remain in as tip-top shape as possible.
Spring Cleaning Completed
These advanced tips, plus the easy ones I shared last week, took me less than 30 minutes total to perform. As a result, my Samsung Series 7 was able to breathe again. Instead of massive performance drops, error messages and little (if any) space for my files, I had 32.56 GB left! On my Alienware X51, 95.3 GB was removed and is now available for games and movies. Most notably, on my main machine, I saved 104.8 GB of data. That’s what I call a spring cleaning!
Hopefully, our blog posts have demonstrated that system maintenance can be simple and pain-free, so that you don’t put it off for once a year but continually clean your PC. We want to hear from you!
How many GB of data did you save with our simple and more advanced steps? Any other tips you’d like to share?