Windows 10 Maintenance

(Using only the built-in Windows 10 maintenance tools) Computer with Windows 10 Maintenance icons

If you're curious about Windows 10 maintenance, here are some Windows 10 maintenance tips using only Windows 10's built-in maintenance tools. (For maintenance options including the use of 3rd-party apps, please see Computer Maintenance.)

It's a good idea to keep Windows 10, 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:

Search for Defender

Then you will see Windows Defender in the list of best matches:

Windows Defender - Best match

With Windows Defender highlighted in the list, click it, or press Enter on your keyboard to open the Windows Defender app.

Windows Defender app

From here you can update Windows Defender and then run security scans on 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.)

Extra Windows 10 Security Tools

Here are 2 Microsoft security tools in/for Windows 10 which are less known.

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, see my guide on the Malicious Software Removal Tool page.

Microsoft Safety Scanner

Very similar to the Malicious Software Removal Tool, Microsoft also has Microsoft Safety Scanner.
To find out more, and run this almost identical tool, see my guide on the Microsoft Safety Scanner page.

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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
Windows key (Windows 10)plusI

Windows 10 Settings screen

Then click on 'Update & Security':

Update and Security option via Settings screen

Then click on 'Check for updates:

Check for updates button

Windows 10 will then check for and install any required updates:

Windows Update status screen

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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:

Search for Store

Then you will see Store on the list of best matches:

Store - best match

With Store highlighted in the list, click it, or press Enter on your keyboard to open the Store app.

Store app showing download and updates option in pull-down menu

Within the Store app and as shown above, click on your user icon and choose Downloads and updates:

Downloads and updates app list

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.)

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Keep things simple and create disk space

Uninstalling old programs will help you to have fewer compatibility 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
Windows key (Windows 10)plusI

Windows Settings screen

Then click on 'System':

System option via Settings screen

Then click on 'Apps & features':

Apps & Features option

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.

Apps and features page

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
Windows key (Windows 10) - Keyboard Shortcuts for WindowsplusX,P

Windows 10 Control Panel

Within the Control Panel click on the Programs and Features option to open Programs and Features:

Programs and Features Windows 10

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.

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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:

Recycle Bin right-click menu - Empty Recycle Bin

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.)

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Disk Cleanup / Storage

(Original method. See further below for Creators Update options)

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
Windows key (Windows 10) - Keyboard Shortcuts for WindowsplusEWindows key + E - Open File Explorer

File Explorer

As shown above, locate your storage drives and right-click one and choose Properties. Then click on Disk Cleanup:

Disk Cleanup - Calculating disk space

Windows will then check and create a list of what can be safely removed from that drive:

List of safe to remove files

From here you can select any items in the list, click OK and Windows will ask you if you are sure:

Are you sure you want to delete these files?

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:

Clean up system files button

Clicking Clean up system files basically does the same thing as before, but any 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:

Disk Cleanup for C showing amount of disk space you gain

Click Delete Files:

Are you sure you want to delete these files?

And Windows will delete the files and clean up your drive:

Cleaning up files..

Storage Cleanup Settings

(New with Windows 10 Creators Update)

If you have the Windows 10 Creators Update installed you have a few other ways to manage your storage cleanup settings.

Press the Windows key + I to open the Settings.

Windows + I - Settings
Windows key (Windows 10)plusI

Then click on 'System':

System option via Settings screen

Then click on 'Storage':

Settings - Storage option

This will open the Storage screen where you can tell Windows how to manage and clean up your storage.

Storage screen - Local storage (in Windows 10 Creators Update)

Clicking on one of the local storage drives will open its storage usage page:

Strorage Usage (Windows 10 Creators Update)

You can click then click on the different listings to get more information.

Clicking on Temporary files, for example, opens up the following screen:

Temporary files screen - Remove temporary files options

Here we can manually select which items we'd like to permanently remove to free up disk space.

Back on the Storage page above (3 images up) we have the 'Change how we free up space' option:

This brings up the following window where we can tell Windows to automatically delete temporary files, and empty the recycle bin every 30 days. (Heaven forbid you wait that long.)

Change how we free up space options

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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:

Search for Optimize

Then you will see Defragment and Optimize Drives in the list of best matches:

Best match - Optimize

With Defragment and Optimize Drives highlighted in the list, click it or press Enter on your keyboard to open the Optimize Drives app.

Optimize Drives - Windows 10 Maintenance

From here you can choose a drive and Analyze it's status and/or Optimize it.

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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 pop-up 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:

Search for Edge

Then you will see Microsoft Edge in the list of best matches:

Microsoft Edge - Best match

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:

Microsoft Edge Settings and more menu

On the Extensions tab, click on Get extensions from the store:

Microsoft Edge Get Extensions

This will open up the Extensions for Microsoft Edge page in the Store. Next, click on the AdBlock extension.

Extensions for Microsoft Edge in the Store

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:

AdBlock for Edge

Once the extension is installed, click on the AdBlock Extension Launch button:

AdBlock Launch button

Next, Microsoft Edge will tell you that you have a new extension. From here you can click Turn it on.

You have a new extension - Turn it on / Keep it off options

After you Turn it on, Microsoft Edge will open the Adblock webpage which will install AdBlock:

Installing 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.

AdBlock is now installed

We can access AdBlock's settings by clicking on the AdBlock extension listing in Edge:

AdBlock extension listing in Edge

AdBlock options - Turn on / Show button next to address bar

Finally, we can keep an eye on any ad-blocking progress as we visit different sites online:

AdBlock: Number of Blocked ads (10)


There are other ad blockers available for Microsoft Edge if you prefer to use them. The latest ones so far are Adguard AdBlocker, uBlock Origin, and the tracking blocker Ghostery.

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GrantBarker.com - Comment

Let people 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.

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