Windows 10 Maintenance(Using only the built-in Windows 10 maintenance tools)
If you're curious about maintaining your Windows 10 device, here are some things you can do within Windows. (For maintenance options including 3rd-party apps, please see Computer Maintenance.)
It's a good idea to keep Windows, your security and your apps up to date.
1. Check your security is up to date
If you're using Windows 10 (or Windows 8), then you already have the built-in security Windows Defender keeping your device safe. It's a good idea to check that it runs, and make sure that it is kept up to date.
To open Windows Defender do the following:
Press the Windows key on your keyboard or click the Start Menu icon to open the Start Menu, and type Defender:
Then you will see Windows Defender in the list of best matches:
With Windows Defender highlighted in the list, click it, or press Enter on your keyboard to open the Windows Defender app.
From here you can update Windows Defender and then run security scans of your device.
Please note: Windows Defender is also automatically updated with Windows Update.
(Another way to find Windows Defender is by pressing the keyboard shortcut Windows key + I to open the Settings. Then click on Update & Security - Windows Defender - Open Windows Defender.)
2. Run Windows Update
As long as you are connected to the internet, then Windows 10 should automatically keep itself up to date - via Windows Update.
To run Windows Update manually, do the following:
Press the Windows key + I to open the Settings.
Windows + I - Settings
Then click on 'Update & Security':
Then click on 'Check for updates:
Windows 10 will then check for and install any required updates:
3. Check that your Windows Store apps are up to date.
As with Windows Update, as long as you are connected to the internet, then Windows 10 should automatically keep your Store apps up to date. But you can manually check and update them if you wish.
To check your Store apps, do the following:
Press the Windows key on your keyboard or click the Start Menu icon to open the Start Menu, and type Store:
Then you will see Store in the list of best matches:
With Store highlighted in the list, click it, or press Enter on your keyboard to open the Store app.
Within the Store app and as shown above, click on your user icon and choose Downloads and updates:
On the Downloads and updates page, press Check for updates to look for updates to your Windows Store apps. From there you can manually update any apps. (These apps are also updated automatically by Windows.)
Keep things simple and create disk space
Uninstalling old programs will help you to have less compatability issues with software, and along with deleting old files, will help you have more space on your storage drives (hard drives/SSDs):
4. Uninstall old and unused programs
Windows 10 is a new operating system, but it's still recommended to uninstall any old third-party apps which you don't need or expect to use anymore. These take up space, use up resources, and make your Windows device less secure if they are not kept up to date. (Please see Computer Maintenance for tips on keeping third-party apps up to date.)
There are 2 main ways to see the apps installed on your device:
Apps & features (the newest way):
Press the Windows key + I to open the Settings.
Windows + I - Settings
Then click on 'System':
Then click on 'Apps & features':
This will open the Apps & features screen. From here you can click on and uninstall any apps which you don't need or foresee yourself using.
Here is the other main way to see your installed apps: Via Control Panel (the oldest way):
Press the Windows key + X, and then P to open the Control Panel:
Windows + X, then P - Open Control Panel
Within the Control Panel click on the Programs and Features option to open Programs and Features:
From the Programs and Features page you can then select a program, and choose the uninstall option to uninstall that app - if you don't want or need it.
Empty the Recycle Bin
Deleting a file within Windows doesn't actually remove it from your hard drive - until you empty the Recycle bin. To do this, right-click the recycle bin icon on your desktop:
Then choose 'Empty Recycle Bin'. Then choose 'Yes'.
(You might want to press Open, to check the contents of the Recycle Bin, before you empty it.)
Let's check our storage drives and see if we can remove any junk on them and create space:
Press the Windows key + E to open File Explorer
Windows + E - Open File Explorer
As shown above, locate your storage drives and right-click one and choose Properties. Then click on Disk Cleanup:
Windows will then check and create a list of what can be safely removed from that drive:
From here you can select any items in the list, click OK and Windows will ask you if you are sure:
If you are sure, then you can go ahead and delete the files.
Clean up system files
You might have noticed the Clean up system files option:
Clicking Clean up system files basically does the same thing as before, but unnecessary system and installation files will also be shown in the list. Removing these files will certainly help you to create more disk space:
Select the files:
Click Delete Files:
And Windows will delete the files and clean up your drive:
6. Check drives are optimized
By default Windows 10 should optimize your drives. Optimization defragments traditional hard drives or triggers Trim for SSDs.
Here's how to check or do it manually using the Optimize Drives app:
Press the Windows key on your keyboard or click the Start Menu icon to open the Start Menu, and type Optimize:
Then you will see Defragment and Optimize Drives in the list of best matches:
With Defragment and Optimize Drives highlighted in the list, click it or press Enter on your keyboard to open the Optimize Drives app.
From here you can choose a drive and Analyze it's status and / or Optimize it.
Block ads / Install an ad blocker
If you'd like to stop ads from popping up and appearing on your system when you're online, then try using an ad blocker extension for Microsoft Edge. This should help you from unknowingly installing unwanted programs, browser plugins or malware, which can happen by accidentally clicking on popup advertisements, or other disguised prompts.
Using any modern web browser with a built-in ad blocker, or ad blocker extension will help with this, but for this article we're focussing on Windows 10's native web browser - Microsoft Edge, and the ad blocking extension AdBlock.
To get the Adblock extension for Microsoft Edge, do the following:
Press the Windows key on your keyboard or click the Start Menu icon to open the Start Menu, and type Edge:
Then you will see Microsoft Edge in the list of best matches:
With Microsoft Edge highlighted in the list, click it or press Enter on your keyboard to open Microsoft Edge. Then go to Edge's main menu and choose Extensions:
On the Extensions tab, click on Get extensions from the store:
This will open up the Extensions for Microsoft Edge page in the Store. Next, click on the AdBlock extension.
This will open up the AdBlock extension page in the Store. Here you can read about the AdBlock extension, and then when ready click the Install button:
Once the extension is installed, click on the AdBlock Extension Launch button:
Next, Microsoft Edge will tell you that you have a new extension. From here you can click Turn it on.
After you Turn it on, Microsoft Edge will open the Adblock webpage which will install AdBlock:
Once AdBlock is installed, you will see the following AdBlock page, where you can choose to donate to the developers of AdBlock if you want, but you don't have to.
We can access AdBlock's settings by clicking on the AdBlock extension listing in Edge:
Finally, we can keep an eye on any ad-blocking progress as we visit different sites online:
Run Malicious Software Removal Tool
Once a month Windows Update automatically downloads, installs and runs an anti-malware scanner called Malicious Software Removal Tool. If you'd like to run the manual version of this tool, you can. Click the image below to find out how.
Let me know in the comments if you recommend any other Windows maintenance tips, and please see the Computer Maintenance page for maintenance tips which include the use of 3rd-party apps.