It's spring! Clean out your PC's junk with these free programs
It's finally May. The winter frost is thawing across the U.S., and thoughts are turning to baseball, the Memorial Day weekend, and cleaning out your PC. Okay, maybe that last one isn't for everybody.
But along with wiping down those windows, clearing out your eaves, and fertilizing the lawn, spring is as good a time as any to make sure your PC is nice and tidy.
Unlike that fence that needs patching, giving your PC a spring overhaul doesn't require much effort on your part. In fact, the right set of tools can do most of the work for you.
The legendary CCleaner clears out all the gunk accumulating on your hard drive including temporary Internet files, system memory dumps, log files, and so on.
Once CCleaner's installed, just tap Analyze and let CCLeaner do its thing. When it's done analyzing (and you're okay with everything it's going to erase), click the Run Cleaner button and then OK.
You'll be amazed at how much junk CCleaner can get rid of. After I ran it on my PC it removed nearly 1.6GB of unnecessary files.
If you've bought a new computer in the past few months or have never bothered to get rid of the all the crapware installed on your PC at the factory, try PC Decrapifier.
This desktop program will analyze your PC for unnecessary programs and offer to erase them in bulk. You can also use it as a way to clear off any programs you no longer want on your PC with just a few clicks.
If you want to get really serious about your spring cleaning, you can use DropIt to automate how specific files are organized on your PC. Let's say you want all PNG files on your desktop that are less than one megabyte to be moved to a sub-folder in your Pictures library called Small Photos.
You can set up a rule for that to happen and then have DropIt monitor your desktop in the background to move files automatically.
The downside is you have to create your own rules before DropIt will do anything, but DropIt comes with a good getting started guide to help. Just right-click the DropIt icon on your desktop and select Guide.
Managing your disk space
Spring cleaning is another great opportunity to use a new built-in disk management feature in Windows 8.1. The refreshed PC Settings app shows exactly how much space your Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, and Video folders are taking up, giving you a clear view of where all your gigabytes are going.
This is a great tool for deciding if it's time to offload your photo or video collections to an external hard drive. For more information, check out "Manage your hard drive space with Windows 8.1's hidden, helpful tools."
Finally, take the time to run a full scan of your PC with a security tool like Malware Bytes Anti-Malware Free to clean any lingering bad actors off your system. Even if you're already running an anti-virus program, an anti-malware app like Malware Bytes is a good thing to run every now and then to guard against newer exploits, Trojans, and other malicious software.