Now that Christmas is over, I am sure some of you have new Windows 10 devices that you are familiarizing yourself with. Whether you got a new desktop computer or a new laptop, here are some efficiency tips and tricks for your new Windows 10 device. While not all of these apply to brand new devices persay, they are good to keep in mind and put into practice when needed. To that end, there are a number of things you can do to ensure Windows 10 is running at optimal performance.
It is important to note, before you start making any big changes to Windows, back up your data on an external device or cloud storage. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to create a restore point in the event something goes wrong. To create a restore point search ‘System Restore’ and click on ‘Create a Restore Point’ in the pop up box at the bottom, click ‘Create…’, type a description into the dialog box and click ‘create’ – Windows will then create a restore point.
Number 1 – Removing unnecessary programs and apps:
Go to Cortana (the search box on the task bar) and search ‘settings’ à ‘System’ à’Apps and Feature’. This will give you a list of app and programs that are running on your system that either came with the computer or maybe you downloaded inadvertently. It is a good idea to get rid of any of these that you either don’t use or don’t want. Simply click on the app and select ‘Uninstall’. At this point in time it might also be a good idea to remove any residual files or Registry entries. To do this you will need to use a third party tool, GeekUnistaller is a good one to use and IObit uninstaller is also a good one to use. Beware however, with IObit Uninstaller; they really push you to purchase the entire suit of IObit software. If you are going to use IObit, install it, use it and then uninstall it.
Number 2 – Optimize Cortana Searches:
Cortana can be a powerful search tools, for both your computers directory and the web. It can also be really annoying– perhaps you want to limit Cortana AI and use it simple as a search tool. The first thing you can do is reclaim some of your task bar by turning the search box into a much smaller magnifying glass. Right click the taskbar à click search à select show search icon. You can also hide the search bar all together if you simply don’t’ want to use it.
You can customize Cortana a little more. Click the search box, on the left hand side you should see some icons, one of which should be a gear which represent Cortana’s settings. If you open her settings you have the option to disable Cortana’s AI, toggle device search history, and toggle online and web searches.
If you type ‘search’ into the search box you can manage how windows actually searches for files on your computer. This shows you which folders have been indexed for searching, it allows you to remove unwanted folders or add folders. It also allows you to move the index to another drive. Additionally, it lets you select specific files types you want to be indexed.
Number 3 – Clean your drive:
If you upgraded to Windows 10 from a previous operating system, it is a good idea to clean out your drive to reclaim any wasted hard drive space. Open up your ‘file explore’ (usually a folder icon on your task bar, if not type file explore into the Cortana)à right click on your system drive à click properties à click Disk Clean up. When it opens select ‘Clean up system files’, this should generate a list of things you can clean up, for example, temporary internet files and the recycling bin.
There is a free tool out there called CCleaner which allows you to clean your hard drive very easily, as well as, your registry, manage startup programs and uninstall unwanted programs.
Number 4 – Start Menu Customization:
The start menu is Windows 10 is not just used as a means to naviagte your computer, but rather it is a tool that can customzied to make your computer experience more seemless and more efficent. In Windows 8/8.1 you needed to leave the desktop environment to access your live tiles and programs, it would bring you to an entirely different screen - it feel very convaluted and sometime frusterating. With Windows 10 however, they have brought that same enviroment to the desktop itself by simply intergrating it into the start menu. Click on the start menu and you will see the live tiles which can be customized by removing, adding, resizing and re-arranging the tiles in a manner that best suits you.
Number 5 – Multiple Virtual Desktops:
This is a feature that might appeal more to business enviroments, but either way it is pretty cool. Have multiple virtual desktops is something PC users have wanted to be easily intergrated into the windows environment - and it is a favorite among OS X users.
To set one up, tap or click on the small icon – or press Windows key + Tab – to the right of the Cortana search bar and this will bring up all of the your open windows. If you scan your eyes to the bottom right hand corner you should see the option to '+ New desktop'.
Virtual desktops are great for organizing and managing all your application and documents. Some of us like to have all of our application and important documents right on the desktop, while others (like myself) have virtuall nothing on the desktop. This new feature with Windows 10 provides with a happy medium and can greatly increase efficency within windows.
Number 6 – Partition your hard drive:
It is always a good idea to keep your data separate from your operating system and applications. That way if something happens with your operating system then your files won’t be directly affected. If you can keep them on a separate physical drive from your OS, that’s great. If not then I would suggest you partition your hard drive. The first thing you want to do is make sure you have enough room on your hard drive to partition it, so head over C drive and see how much space you have available. You want to make sure that you leave enough room on your partitioned hard drive for your operating system and any application you might want to install.
Right click the start button and select ‘Disk Management’ à Right click on the C drive and choose ‘Shrink Volume’. If it were me I would leave at least 50 GB a free space on your operating partition for any programs you might want to download in the future, the rest you can turn into a storage partition for your data. Once you have adjusted your volume size click ‘Shrink’, once this is done you will see an empty space partition beside your operating partition. Right click your new data partition and choose ‘New Simple Volume’, make sure to format using NTFS. When this is completed you can now use the storage partition to store your data and portable applications. You are going to want to properly transfer your files to the new partition so Windows knows where to find them. To do this right click on the file or folder you want to move to your storage drive and select ‘Properties’ à Location Tab à Click move à browse to the location on your storage drive where you want your data to sit and select ‘yes’ to move your data there.
There are a few other things you can do to speed up and streamline your PC. You can download a program called SpaceSniffer that gives you a visual break down of what is taking up space on your hard drive. You can also use cloud storage to keep important documents stored off of your hard drive. Google Drive or One Note are good, however, if you are concerned about privacy and security I would recommend a Zero Knowledge system like SpideOak. You can also build a portable tool kit. There are many portable applications out there that allow you to download an operating file with the application, without actually installing it on your computer. You can leave these apps in your storage drive or keep them on an external device like a USB stick or external drive; alternatively you can also store these on the cloud. Another upgrade I strongly suggest would be to replace your standard sata hard drive to an ultra-fast, more stable solid state drive. These solid state drives don’t have any moving parts in them so not only are they more stable but they are also faster. They tend to be more expensive and don’t have as much capacity but overall they are much better.