How to Clean and Defrag Your Computer

By Adrian Grahams

Computer hardware and software relies on numerous data files to work properly. The computer saves these files to empty portions of its hard disk drive. Over time, the files get distributed over the disk unevenly in a process called fragmentation. This can slow down the computer's speed and reduce system performance. You can improve the efficiency and performance of your computer by using two pre-installed tools. The Disk Cleanup utility automatically removes unnecessary computer files, and the Disk Defragmentation tool cleans up and streamlines the file system.

Step 1

Click "Start" in the desktop taskbar. Type "Disk Cleanup" into the search box at the bottom of the Start menu. Click "Disk Cleanup" in the search results list to launch the Disk Cleanup tool.

Step 2

Select the computer hard disk drive that you want to clean up in the list of available drives. Click the "OK" button.

Step 3

Click the "Disk Cleanup" tab, then select each checkbox next to the file types that you want to delete. You can safely remove all file types in the list. Click the "OK" button, then click "Delete Files." Wait for the clean-up process to commence. You can now defrag your computer's hard drive.

Step 4

Click "Start" in the taskbar. Type "Disk Defragmenter" into the search box, then click "Disk Defragmenter" in the search results list.

Step 5

Select the computer hard disk drive that you want to defragment in the "Current Status" section. Click "Analyze Disk." If prompted, enter your Windows administrator password. Wait for Windows to finish scanning and analyzing the hard disk drive.

Step 6

Look at the percentage of fragmentation in the "Last Run" column of the analysis results. If fragmentation is more than 10 percent of the disk, click the "Defragment Disk" button. This process can take several hours, depending upon the size of the disk and the amount of data stored.

Tips & Warnings

  • Avoid using the computer during a disk defragmentation, because this slows down the process. You can clean up and defragment all internal and external hard drives attached to the computer, but you can't use the tools on network locations that may show up in the list of drives.