Skip to main content

How to perform a DIY tune-up of your PC

man working on a pc at home
(Image credit: Getty)

With time, most Windows computer owners experience a reduction in speed and performance. Many people mistakenly think that this is due to age, but the chances are that your PC just needs a quick tune-up. 

This relatively straightforward process will increase the speed of your computer and you can complete it on your own; it won’t cost you anything. Tune-ups are designed to do a number of things, including (but not limited to) temporary file deletion, disk drive defragmentation, and disabling unwanted startup programs. The end goal is to boost performance by eliminating things that are slowing your PC down. 

Here, we provide an overview of how to perform a DIY tune-up of your PC. The process is simple, and you don’t need any special tech skills.

Related: The best Microsoft Office alternatives.

How to perform a DIY tune-up of your PC: Preparation

Before you start performing a DIY tune-up, it’s important to ensure that you’re well prepared. You can start by turning your PC on and ensuring you have a constant source of power. 

If you have important files or information saved on your device, you may want to back it up to an external source. DIY tune-ups are safe, and there’s a very low risk of something going wrong, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

It’s also a good idea to ensure you have a high-quality, reliable security suite installed. Viruses and other malware files can cause your device to run slow, and even a tune-up won’t fix it without removing the malicious files.

Step 1: Specify what apps open when you start your PC

Windows computers have the capability to launch programs when they are turned on. When your device is new, this isn’t a problem, as there are only a small number of programs configured to launch automatically. 

But over time, you will likely download third-party apps and programs, and many of these will be automatically set to launch on startup—which can cause significant performance issues. 

By disabling automatic launch on any programs that aren’t important, you can speed things up significantly. To do this, head to the Task Manager, click the Startup tab, and disable the relevant programs.

Step 2: Complete a full virus scan

You’ve got some decent antivirus software, so your computer should be protected, right? Wrong. Many antivirus programs either perform simple automatic scans or don’t perform automatic scans at all. These basic scans can miss some malicious files and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) which could be impacting your device's performance. 

Instead, you will want to complete an advanced malware check, which will sometimes need to be started manually. If you don’t already have a decent antivirus program, we’d suggest using Bitdefender Antivirus Plus. It’s easy to download, and it comes with loads of security features to keep your computer safe at all times.

Bitdefender dashboard

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is one of our favorite antivirus program. (Image credit: Bitdefender)

Step 3: Use the disk defragmentation tool

All Windows 10 and 11 devices defragment their disk drives automatically. However, it can still be a good idea to use the built-in Defragment and Optimize Drives tool to ensure your storage is fully optimized across the board. 

Once you have the defragmentation program open, you simply need to select the drive you want to work on and hit the optimize button. Unless you have some serious issues with your data storage, the optimization process shouldn’t take more than a couple of seconds.

Step 4: Ensure Storage Sense is turned on

Storage Sense is an excellent Windows feature that not many people know about. Basically, it’s a tool that ensures unimportant files and data (including files in the recycle bin) are deleted automatically. This prevents them from taking up unnecessary space and impacting the performance of your device. 

However, Storage Sense is deactivated by default. The easiest way to turn it on is to search for “storage sense” in the taskbar search field. Open the system settings result, and configure the settings that look right for you. You can specify when you want the program to run and what files should be deleted.

Windows Storage Sense tool

The Storage Sense tool will help you maintain free space on your Windows PC. (Image credit: Windows)

Step 5: Consider a third-party system optimization tool

Although it’s possible to perform the actions outlined above (along with various others) to return your PC to optimal performance, it does take time to work through them manually. This is where system optimization tools come into play. 

Basically, these are simple programs that come with one-click tune-up options. This enables you to regularly perform tune-ups to ensure your device remains in tip-top shape at all times. It’s worth noting that many of these apps are only available with a paid license or subscription, although there are a few free options available. 

One of our favorite system optimization tools is Iolo System Mechanic. Along with a highly functional one-click clean-up button, it includes tools to clear browser histories and add a layer of privacy to your activities. There’s even a free version that includes basic tune-up tools.

Summary

Performing a DIY PC tune-up may seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually surprisingly easy to do. Even a quick tune-up can deliver excellent speed and performance results, returning your computer to its previous brilliance.

To get started, we’d suggest taking advantage of the built-in Windows tools, including the disk optimizer and Storage Sense. Specify which apps should open on Windows startup, and ensure you have a decent antivirus program installed. Third-party system optimization tools are also worth considering, especially if you’re looking for a simple, one-click option. 

Ultimately, the main takeaways here are that (1) It’s extremely easy to perform a system tune-up, (2) tune-ups can deliver excellent performance improvements, and (3) third-party system optimization tools are safe and effective.

Related: The best remote desktop software.

Daniel is a freelance copywriter with over six years experience writing for publications such as TechRadar, Tom’s Guide, and Hosting Review. He specializes in tech and finance, with a particular focus on website building, web hosting, and related fields. 

Topics