The Disk Cleanup Wizard Window's 10 & 11
Updated: May 24, 2022
While it’s always better to prevent problems from occurring in the first instance, when they do occur, fixing them quickly, and even having a user repair a problem on their own remotely, is always preferable to a time-consuming reimage or reinstall.
The Disk Cleanup Wizard
The Disk Cleanup Wizard is one of those venerable tools that’s been in Windows since the dawn of time. Indeed, like other tools including Paint and Notepad, it almost feels sometimes like the OS was built around the need to use them. This tool, however, is much more useful than just cleaning out temporary files to “free up a bit of space.”
We can run the Disk Cleanup most easily by searching for disk or clean in the Start Menu or Cortana. If you have more than one disk or partition on your PC, you’ll be asked which disk you want to clean (it should default to the drive on which Windows 10 is installed).
The main options present a list of checkboxes that include the obvious temporary files and setup files, see image below. There’s much more to it than this, however. Why clean up temporary files in the first place, though; they don’t cause problems, do they? In rare cases, they actually can but there’s no way to know for sure unless you delete them.
At its simplest, the Disk Cleanup Wizard removes temporary and unwanted files
Clicking the Cleanup system files button will reveal additional options. These can include “Windows temporary installation files” which, if you’ve recently upgraded the PC to Windows 10, can consist of the previous Windows installation. Windows 10 protects these files for 30 days after the upgrade so they can be rolled back if necessary.
Clicking the More options tab presents an option to clean up System Restore and Shadow Copies. These reside in the System Volume Information folders that are hidden on each hard disk or partition. Should System Restore become corrupt, deleting the restore points can reset it?
Cleaning Temporary and Other Files from IE and Edge
While the Disk Cleanup Wizard is a great, easy-to-use tool for deleting temporary files from your PC, your web browser can collect additional files you may want to clean from time to time, for example, if the browser is appearing to slow down on startup and use.
To manage temporary and other files in IE, click the Settings icon in the top right of the browser and then click the Internet Options link from the menu that appears. This will open in the General tab of a pop-up dialog. Click the Delete button and you will be presented with checkboxes for the things you can delete from the browser’s cache, see the below image
Defragmenting Your Hard Disks
Fragmentation occurs because when you save files on your hard disk, Windows 10 will try to save the file in the first accessible space. Should this space not be big enough for the file, it will save some of the files there, and place the rest of the file in the next available space. If that space isn’t large enough for the remainder.
Having fragmented disks on a PC can really slow down the operation of the PC, from Startup to file access, if mechanical disks are used. Windows 10 includes an automatic maintenance system, that will automatically defragment drives. What can happen, however, is that defragmentation set to occur when the PC is in use can also slow it down, and if the defragmentation is set to occur when the PC is likely to be switched off, it won’t happen at all. You can change the settings for defragmentation in Windows 10 by searching for defragging in the Start Menu or Cortana and clicking Defragment and Optimize Drives. The main Defragmenter window lists all of the hard disks and partitions on your PC, along with their fragmentation status, see below
Clicking the Change settings button will allow you to choose which drives will be automatically defragmented by Windows 10, and how often this occurs. You can choose to exclude any solid-state drives should Windows 10 have not already excluded them from defragmentation.
A solid-state drive is labeled as “Needs optimization”, but it really doesn’t. As a random-access memory technology, fragmentation does not slow the drive and can even reduce the life of a drive, as all SSDs and M.2 drives come with a maximum read/write lifespan