How to make your computer run faster with a spring clean

Here's our step by step guide to get your desktop at its best

29 Jul 2021

Have you noticed your computer getting a little sluggish recently? When your computer was now, booting up seemed practically instant... but now it wakes up with a yawn and says “five more minutes”. It's not all bad though! It could just be your computer needs a little TLC to feel like its old self again.

 

Simple steps to boost your desktop PC

One of the best ways to fix a computer slowdown? Simply give it a bit of a clean. And not just a digital one- actually get the dust as well as the data off your hard drive!

This may sound complicated, but it’s actually really easy and shouldn’t take too much effort. Here’s how to give your computer a basic clean, inside and out.

 

Cleaning your computer’s inner workings

Figurines of tiny people cleaning a motherboard

The inside of a computer is an area that often gets neglected. After all, taking the case off and checking out the components can be a bit scary. There’s no need to worry – cleaning dust and fluff away is quick and easy.

Dust and fluff gradually builds up inside your computer over time. They coat all the chips and clog up the fans, meaning the computer can’t keep cool properly. As the computer heats up it won’t work as efficiently. The computer becomes noisier as the fans struggle to keep things cool, putting extra strain on the components.

All you need to clean your computer is a can of compressed air and a lint-free cloth. Additionally, you may want to wear an anti-static wristband to avoid the risk of damaging the electronics if you touch them by mistake.

  • Remove the computer case
  • Following the directions on the can of compressed air, blow away the dust and fluff from the inside of the computer
  • Spray from the inside towards the outside
  • Hold the fans still while you spray through them to ensure they’re well cleaned
  • Blow excess dust of any heatsinks and chips
  • Use the lint-free cloth to brush away any remaining dust, being very gentle if you touch any components
  • Replace the case once you’ve finished

Important: We'd really advise against using a vacuum cleaner on the inside of your computer. Vacuum cleaners can produce static electricity that may cause major damage to your computer. Not good!

 

Cleaning your hard disk

A woman typing on a desktop computer

Over time, your computer can accumulate all sorts of bits and pieces you no longer need. All this excess data can start to slow your computer down over time, but a few simple tasks can get the system back up to speed again.

 

1. Clean up your mailbox

Unless you’re very lucky, you probably get a fair bit of junk mail every day. Your computer probably sorts the worst of it into a separate folder, but it’s worthwhile emptying this out every so often to free up a little space. While you’re at it, now is a good time to go through your mail mailbox and archive or delete any messages you no longer need.

 

2. Empty the recycle bin and clear out temporary files

All those documents, images and videos that you’ve banished from your computer tend to hang around in the recycle bin until you finally evict them. Your computer will also tend to horde lots of temporary files. Give them their marching orders for a bit of extra space. Here’s how to do it in Windows 10:

  • From the Start menu, select Settings
  • Choose Storage
  • Click on This PC and choose your hard drive
  • Select Temporary Files
  • Under Recycle Bin, select Empty Recycle Bin
  • Under Temporary Files, select Delete Temporary Files
  • Under Downloads, select View Downloads and delete any you no longer need

 

3. Uninstall any programs, apps and games you no longer need

The more space you have on your hard drive, the better it tends to perform. Getting rid of old programs is good practice and frees up resources your computer can use.

  • From the Start menu, select Settings
  • Choose System and select Apps & Features
  • Wait for the list of installed programs to appear
  • From here you can see how much space everything takes up
  • Delete anything you no longer need, but do double check if you’re not sure what the program is

If you’ve not given your computer a good once-over in a while, you should notice a reasonable performance boost now!

Related in Repair advice

What happens to your old tech when you recycle it?

08 Apr 2021

TV settings problems and how to fix them

04 Mar 2021

How to keep your dishwasher clean

12 Feb 2021

How to tell if you need a new fridge freezer

11 Feb 2021

How to do a digital spring clean

10 Feb 2021