Getting back to work or school after several weeks of vacation is never easy. Before you dive back into the bath, it is best to turn your machine back on several days before the resumption to avoid unpleasant surprises.
During the vacation weeks when your machine has been off, there is a good chance that new system updates or applications installed on your computer will be available. As with a vehicle before traveling a long distance, it is better to carry out a small regular service of your PC.
1. Update your PC
It might make sense, but a PC with an outdated operating system is a PC that can bring its share of problems in the weeks after returning to work. If Windows displays a little alert whenever an update is available, you are probably one of those people who put off downloading and installing that update until the next day. And the accumulation of unapplied updates can quickly become a problem.
To avoid getting caught off guard and seeing your PC request a restart to finalize the installation of an update while you are at work, remember to turn your machine back on before resuming your journey to work and proceed to all Windows updates.
And for those who have forgotten how to do it, click on the start menu and meet in Settings Windows. Then enter the section Update and security and click on Check for updates. If new updates are available, download and install them until they are all applied.
2. Clean your PC from malware
Even if you rarely download and install new applications on your PC, your PC can become infected with malware and other ad spam, without it seeming obvious. If you suspect your machine may be infected with any malware that Windows Defender has not detected, there are two tools you can use to quickly scan and clean your PC.
First, run an analysis with the free version of Malwarebytes Anti-malware. Once the scan is complete, the software will offer to quarantine or remove suspicious items.
Do the same with Adw Cleaner. Once the scan is complete, the software will typically request a restart of your machine.
Repeat this from time to time to maintain your operating system. Remember to uninstall the programs if you are not using them, especially because Malwarebytes anti-malware can run in the background and take up unnecessary computer resources.
3. Free up space on your hard drive
If the performance of your machine seems to be declining day by day, it may be because there is not enough space on your machine. The accumulation of temporary files, downloaded items or even files put in the trash without emptying it end up clogging your storage. It is therefore better to carry out a regular cleaning to recover some space, and at the same time, improve the performance of your machine.
To do this, Windows 10 includes a tool that fully automates this task. Click on the Start menu and go to the Settings Windows. Then enter the menu System, and go to Storage. Windows displays the occupancy rate of your hard drive, broken down by data type.
To start Disk Cleanup, click Configure Storage Assistant or run it now. You can, if you wish, choose to activate theStorage assistant so that it performs regular disk cleaning for you.
Likewise, you can configure Windows to delete temporary files automatically on a frequent basis.
If you are running a cleanup for the first time, you can Free up space now by clicking the button Clean now so that all unnecessary data is permanently deleted.
4. Remove unnecessary preinstalled software
If you’ve been using your PC for several years and have never done a clean reinstallation of Windows, chances are your machine has preinstalled software that you never use. In addition to clogging your Start menu, these unnecessary items take up space on your hard drive.
Also called bloatware, these applications can take the form of games, services, or software trials. However, these software and applications preinstalled on your computer can be removed quite easily using a utility.
5. Limit software when starting Windows
The more applications you install on your computer, the more likely you are to have a machine that takes longer to boot. Why ? This is simply because a large number of applications launch automatically when Windows starts up, slowing down the loading of the operating system.
To limit the number of programs that launch when Windows starts up, open the operating system’s task manager. To do this, use the keys Ctrl + Alt + Del and click on Task Manager.
Then go to the tab Start-up. All programs that run when Windows starts are displayed. Right-click on the ones you don’t think you need when Windows 10 starts up, and choose to Deactivate.
6. Organize the Start menu and taskbar
To avoid wasting time researching the tools you use every day, it’s best to organize your Start menu and taskbar by pinning the apps you use most to them.
To do this, a simple right click on the icon of an open program in the taskbar will allow you to pin it to it.
As for the menu Start, you can simply drag and drop the frequently used app icons to the right pane.
It is also possible, by going to the Settings> Personalization> Start, ofDisplay the most used applications. When this option is active, the start menu displays a Most Popular section at the top of the list of available applications.
7. Optimize the autonomy of your PC
Returning to work or going back to school is also synonymous with working on the move. If you happen to spend several hours away from any source of power, you will have to make certain concessions to maintain the autonomy of your computer. And maximizing the battery life of a PC is not always easy.
However, you can adopt certain best practices such as limiting screen brightness, using one of Windows 10’s energy management modes, or even temporarily giving up using the most energy-intensive applications.
8. Install only the software you need
If you only use your machine for work, make sure you install only the bare essentials: web browser, media player, PDF, office suite, etc. Here is, in our opinion, a list of basic applications essential for a PC.
If you have made all the updates to your system, Windows 10 should integrate the new version of Microsoft Edge. Based on Chromium, this new version has nothing to do with its ancestor. Microsoft’s web browser is faster and its interface is very similar to that of Chrome.
However, your habits may have led you to use another web browser: Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Brave, etc. Each of them has specificities that may make you prefer one over the other. Firefox is all about protecting private data, Chrome blends perfectly with the entire Google ecosystem, Opera integrates your favorite messaging and social networks, while Brave will block all trackers and unwanted content. If you don’t need to have them all, try them out and make up your own mind to choose the one that best suits your needs.
If you happen to need to open audio or video files on your PC, we can only advise you to install the excellent VLC. This free and open source media player is lightweight and can open just about all existing audio and video formats.
Opening and managing documents in PDF format can be done in several ways. Again, depending on your needs, you may not even need a specific tool. Because if you are only looking to open PDF documents from time to time, your web browser will be more than enough.
If you need to fill out PDFs, annotate them, and sometimes even sign them, turn to Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. In its free version, the Adobe utility includes a “Fill and sign” module for filling out forms and placing an electronic handwritten signature. PDFs can also be commented and annotated. Be careful, however, in its free version, Adobe Acrobat Reader DC does not allow you to modify the content of a PDF.
You can also configure Windows so that files in this format are automatically opened with your browser or PDF reader. To do this, open the Settings Windows 10, and go to the menu Applications.
Enter the section Default apps, scroll through the options and click Choose default apps by file type.
Then scroll through the list of file formats, locate the PDF format, and click on Choose a default application to select the program to use.
In terms of the office suite, again, everyone will choose the solution that suits them best. While most people don’t want to be without Microsoft Office, maybe not everyone wants to invest in such a complete software suite to just use a word processor and spreadsheet. Fortunately, there are several alternative solutions.
For those who absolutely want to have “hard” software on their machine, it is better to turn to LibreOffice, a free, open source and very complete office suite. In addition to the traditional word processor (Writer) and spreadsheet (Calc), LibreOffice also includes a presentation tool (Impress), a drawing application (Draw), a database manager (Base), a mathematical formula editor (Math), as well as a diagram creation module (Diagrams).
For others, free online solutions accessible from any web browser exist, obviously on the condition of having constant access to the Internet. If your office suite preference is for Microsoft Office, you might want to turn to Office Online. The free online version of the Microsoft office suite is available as long as you have a Microsoft account. There you will find the bare essentials, namely Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and can save your work in the cloud, with Microsoft offering 5 GB of free storage space on OneDrive.
Use Microsoft Office Online (Free)
You can also turn to the following Google docs, also free, and more complete than that of Microsoft. There you will find the Docs word processor, the Sheets spreadsheet editor, the Slides presentation tool, and a form editor called Forms. Access to Google Docs requires a Google account and will also allow you to save your documents on Google Drive and its included 15 GB for free.
Use Google Docs (Free)
9. Use a password manager
Like many Internet users, you probably use the password manager built into your web browser. In addition to the security aspect, taking back control of your password management will allow you to better secure them, but above all to find them on all your devices, regardless of the web browser used.
You will need to use a third-party password manager for this. We have selected Bitwarden, a free and open source tool that is easy to use and available on all devices.
10. Reinstall Windows
If despite all of the above recommendations your PC still has not recovered to its best condition, you can attempt a complete reinstallation of your operating system.
As of the May Update 2020, Microsoft’s OS can be reinstalled by downloading a new copy of Windows 10 from the cloud.
Your computer will be reset to the latest updated version of Windows 10, all with the possibility of keeping the files stored on your machine.
Be careful, however, plan to back up all your data manually, as a bad surprise can never be ruled out.