How to Tune Up Your Windows 10 PC for Free

Anyone who has spent time working or playing on a Windows PC has surely felt the sting that comes with firing up a computer and realizing that something is…off. The PC boots slowly. Apps take forever to launch. Files open at a snail’s pace. In years past, a tune-up utility was a necessary tool for remedying PC performance issues. Microsoft now ships the Windows 10 operating with numerous built-in system-enhancing utilities, however. Your first step should be to use the tools in your operating system. You may never need to buy a separate tune-up utility; as Windows 10 adoption grows, such apps may become a thing of the past.

Note the “may.” PCMag’s editors are working on a new Windows 10-based testbed for tune-ups, so that we can evaluate the relative performance enhancements delivered by both tune-up utilities and Windows 10. Our current testbed only benchmarks Windows 7. Given that Windows 10 finallyedged out Window 7 as the OS running on most PCs running Windows in February of this year, it’s time for us to change the way we test.

In the meanwhile, though, Windows 10 users have two sets of options, and each has its pros and cons.

What Do Tune-Up Utilities Offer?

One undeniable strength of third-party tune-up utilities is their ability to perform several system actions from within one easily negotiable interface—often with just a single mouse-click. Iolo System Mechanic, for example, lets you click a single icon to get the system-cleaning process started. Windows 10 doesn’t contain the one-click tune-up button that Iolo System Mechanic and so many other tune-up utilities boast. At least, not yet.

In addition, tune-up utilities frequently include file shredders that permanently delete your unwanted data, but there are plenty of free and paid file shredders that perform the same action. Program uninstallers and driver updaters, which are also bundled in some tune-up utilities, can also be purchased as standalone software from Ashampoo and IObit. Again, tune-up utilities have the benefit of gathering everything into one central location.

Windows 10 Can Get the Job Done

Convenience is a real advantage. Tools that you never use are, literally, useless tools. The fact that Microsoft doesn’t have a big Tune-Up My PC button that starts all the wheels turning really counts against it. That said, the tools are all there, if you’re willing to dig for them, and they’re all free to use. Furthermore, Microsoft doesn’t recommend that you use tune-up utilities to tweak Windows 10, as those programs tweak the registry. That’s a no-no in Redmond’s eyes.

Clean Up Windows 10 Now, Here’s How

The upshot is that, if you don’t mind exploring Windows’ many PC-improving options on your own, you may not need to download a tune-up utility. If you’re well versed in Windows 10, you’ll know precisely where to go. If you’re a Windows 10 novice, the tips below will put you on the healthy PC path. Happy cleaning.