While you should always keep Windows 10 current with the latest patches and updates, great PC performance also stems from an organized, clutter-free SSD or hard drive. By scanning, cleaning, and organizing data, Windows 10 takes less time finding what it needs to carry out your requests. We show you how to scan and clean your drive in Windows 10.

We break this guide into three parts. First, scan the drive to detect any errors related to the “table of contents” that lists where data physically resides, correct cross-linked files, and move data from corrupted areas (if possible). After that, Windows 10 provides tools for removing unwanted data buried deep within the operating system. A third tool organizes data in a logical order so Windows 10 isn’t slowed down by hopping between scattered chunks to get tasks done.

Here is our guide on how to scan and clean your drive in Windows 10 based on version 1809 (October 2018 Update):

Error checking

Windows 10 File Explorer icon

1. Click the “folder” icon on the taskbar to open File Explorer.

Windows 10 File Explorer

2. In File Explorer, the default view is This PC listing all storage drives in the right panel.
3. Right-click on the drive you want to clean.
4. Select Properties on the pop-up menu.

Windows 10 Scan Disk Tool

5. Click the Tools tab.
6. Under Error checking, click the Check button.
7. Windows 10 may say you don’t need to scan. If you want to scan anyway, click the Scan drive option.

Error checking via Command Prompt

Windows 10 load command prompt

1. Type CMD in Cortana’s search field on the taskbar.

Windows 10 run Command Prompt as admin

2. Right-click the Command Prompt desktop app in the results.
3. Select Run as administrator in the new pop-up menu.
4. Select Yes on the User Account Control pop-up window.

Windows 10 chkdsk command

5. In the Command Prompt, type chkdsk C: /f next to the C:\Windows\system32> entry.
6. Since you’re currently using the PC, you’ll need to scan the drive later. Choose Y to schedule a scan the next time your PC restarts.
7. Close the Command Prompt.

Disk Cleanup

Windows 10 File Explorer icon

1. Click the “folder” icon on the taskbar to open File Explorer.

Windows 10 File Explorer

2. In File Explorer, the default view is This PC listing all storage drives in the right panel.
3. Right-click on the drive you want to clean.
4. Select Properties on the pop-up menu.

Windows 10 Disk Cleanup

5. The Properties window loads the General tab by default. Click Disk Cleanup.

Windows 10 Disk Cleanup options
6. On the following Disk Cleanup window, check everything you want to clean.

On the list you’ll see an option to compress the OS drive if you’re cleaning the primary C Drive where Windows 10 resides. That means Windows 10 will compress everything stored on that drive – the OS included – into a compact package. Your PC will work as usual, only you’ll have more space as a result. The option on our test PC promises 200GB of additional free space on a 1TB drive after compression.

You’ll also find two options for deleting downloads. They have a similar purpose: Delete everything residing in your Downloads folder. They are new features introduced in Windows 10 1809 (October 2019 Update) and appear to perform the same function. DO NOT CHECK THESE OPTIONS if there are files you want to keep. Instead, manually delete what you don’t want in the Downloads folder.

Here are options you can safely clean:

  • Temporary internet files
  • Delivery optimization files
  • Recycle Bin
  • Temporary files
  • Thumbnails

We suggest you do not clean (deselect):

  • Downloaded program files
  • DirectX shader cache (if you’re a gamer)
  • Downloads
  • Hello Face
  • Delete all system restore points
  • Downloaded files

7. After selecting everything you want to clean, click OK.
8. Click Delete Files in the pop-up window.

Disk Cleanup: The hardcore version

Windows 10 File Explorer icon

1. Click the “folder” icon on the taskbar to open File Explorer.

Windows 10 File Explorer

2. In File Explorer, the default view is This PC listing all storage drives in the right panel.
3. Right-click on the drive you want to clean.
4. Select Properties on the pop-up menu.

Windows 10 Disk Cleanup

5. The Properties window loads the General tab by default. Click Disk Cleanup.

Windows 10 clean up system files
6. On the following Disk Cleanup window, click the Clean up system files button.
7. After Windows 10 gathers information, you will see a slightly longer list.

Here are options you can safely clean:

  • Windows Update Cleanup
  • Windows Defender Antivirus
  • Windows upgrade log files
  • Temporary internet files
  • System created Windows Error Reporting files
  • Delivery Optimization files
  • Recycle bin
  • Temporary files
  • Thumbnails

We suggest you do not clean (deselect)`:

  • Downloaded Program Files
  • DirectX Shader Cache (if you’re a gamer)
  • Device driver packages
  • Downloads
  • Hello Face
  • Language resource files
  • Delete all system restore points
  • Downloaded files

Defrag your drive

Now that you’ve evicted all the pesky, unwanted files lurking on your PC, arranging everything in order is the next step. Fragmented data stored on your primary and secondary drives bottlenecks performance, as Windows 10 takes more time searching in various physical locations for the data it needs. With data placed in a logical order, Windows 10 spends less time searching for data, speeding up your PC. Windows 10 typically optimizes your drives automatically during inactive hours, but you can manually optimize your drives using the following steps:

Windows 10 File Explorer icon

1. Click the “folder” icon on the taskbar to open File Explorer.

Windows 10 File Explorer

2. In File Explorer, the default view is This PC listing all storage drives in the right panel.
3. Right-click on the drive you want to clean.
4. Select Properties on the pop-up menu.

Windows 10 optimize drive

5. The Properties window loads the General tab by default. Click the Tools tab.
6. Under Optimize and defragment drive, click the Optimize button.
7. In the next window, select the drive you want to optimize.

Windows 10 analyze and optimize

8. Click the Analyze button to see if the drive needs optimizing, even if it reads 0% fragmentation. If the drive is good, click the Close button.
9. If your drive needs optimization, click the Optimize button.
10. Rinse and repeat for all other local drives.
11. Click Close when done.

If you want to change your PC’s scheduled optimization, follow these steps:

Windows 10 File Explorer icon

1. Click the “folder” icon on the taskbar to open File Explorer.

Windows 10 File Explorer

2. In File Explorer, the default view is This PC listing all storage drives in the right panel.
3. Right-click on the drive you want to optimize.
4. Select Properties on the pop-up menu.

Windows 10 optimize drive

5. The Properties window loads the General tab by default. Click the Tools tab.
6. Under Optimize and defragment drive, click the Optimize button.

Windows 10 defrag change settings

7. In the next window, click the Change settings button.

Windows 10 optimization schedule

8. Make sure the Run on a schedule option is ticked.
9. Select Daily, Weekly, or Monthly as the Frequency.
10. Make sure the Increase task priority option is ticked.
11. Click the Choose button to select all drives you want optimized automatically.

That’s everything you need to know on how to scan and clean your drive in Windows 10. For more information on how to use Windows 10, click on these guides: