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Sometimes the biggest factor slowing down your PC isn’t Windows 10 itself, but bloatware or adware that takes up CPU and system resources. Adware and bloatware are particularly insidious because they may have been installed by your computer’s manufacturer. You’d be amazed at how much more quickly your Windows 10 PC can run if you get rid of it. First, run a system scan to find adware and malware.

You can also use Windows 10’s built in anti-malware app — just type Windows Defender in the search box, press Enter, and then click Scan Now. Windows Defender will look for malware and remove any it finds. It’s a good idea to get a second opinion, though, so consider a free tool like Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. The free version scans for malware and removes what it finds; the paid version offers always-on protection to stop infections in the first place.

Now you can check for bloatware and get rid of it. Several free programs will do this for you; your best bet is to run several of them, because no single one will find all the bloatware on your PC. The more you use your hard disk, the more it can become fragmented, which can slow down your PC.

When a disk gets fragmented, it stores files willy-nilly across it, and it takes a while for Windows to put them together before running them. Windows 10, though, has a built-in defragmenter you can use to defragment your hard disk. You can even tell it to run automatically so it stays constantly defragmented.

To do it, type defrag into the search box and press Enter. From the screen that appears, select the drive you want you want to defragment.

Click the Optimize button to defragment it. Select multiple disks by holding down the Ctrl key and clicking each you want to defragment.

Weekly will be your best bet. From this screen you can also choose multiple drives to defragment. Note: If you have an SSD, defragging won’t offer any noticeable performance boost, and it could cause wear on the disk. So it’s not worth your while to defrag SSDs. You can set Windows 10’s built-in disk defragmenter to run automatically on a schedule. So turning off Game Mode can give your PC a quick boost. You can always turn it back on again when you want to play a game. After you do that, click the Xbox Game Bar category on the left hand side of the screen, and on the screen you come to, turn the slider at the top of the screen to Off.

It also kills processes that you might have set in motion and are no longer needed, but that continue running and slow your system. If your Windows 10 PC has turned sluggish over time for no apparent reason, you may be surprised at how much more quickly it will run when you do this. Try just some of these tricks, and you’ll find that you’ve got a faster Windows 10 PC — and one that is less likely to have any reliability problems.

This article was originally published in February and most recently updated in August Here are the latest Insider stories. More Insider Sign Out. Sign In Register. Sign Out Sign In Register. Latest Insider. Check out the latest Insider stories here. More from the Foundry Network. Windows 10 cheat sheet. Click Revoke permission and sign out , and you’ll be signed out of Cortana, your chat history will be cleared, and Cortana won’t track information such as your location or connect with your calendar, email, contacts and other apps and services.

But you won’t be able to use Cortana, either. The next time you sign in, Cortana will once against track you and connect with all those services. If you only want to clear your chat history but remain signed into Cortana, click Clear in the chat history section. Your chat history will be deleted, but once you start using Cortana, you’ll once again build up a chat history.

It brings you to the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard, but the Dashboard no longer lets you clear Cortana data. When you use your Microsoft account to log into Windows 10, you’re able to sync your settings with all Windows devices.

So, for example, when you make changes to your settings on a desktop PC, those changes will also be made on your laptop the next time you log in. But maybe you don’t want Microsoft to store that information about you. And maybe you want to cut your ties as much as possible to anything Microsoft stores about you. If that’s the case, your best bet is to stop using your Microsoft account and instead use a local account.

Then click Add someone else to this PC. From the screen that appears, select I don’t have this person’s sign-in information. On the next page, select Add a user without a Microsoft account and follow the instructions to create and use a local account.

Keep in mind that when you do this, you won’t be able to use Microsoft’s OneDrive storage or download and install for-pay apps from the Microsoft Store. You can, however, download and install free apps from the Microsoft Store. Windows apps have the potential to invade your privacy — they can have access to your camera, microphone, location, pictures and videos. Click the app whose permissions you want to control, then click Advanced options and set the app’s permissions by toggling them either on or off.

Note, though, that not all apps have an “Advanced options” link. And of those that do, not all let you customize your app permissions. However, there’s another way to change app permissions. You’ll see a list of all of Windows’ hardware, capabilities and features that apps can access if they’re given permission — location, camera, microphone, notifications, account info, contacts and so on. Click any of the listed items — for example, Microphone. At the top of the page that appears, you can turn off access to the microphone for all apps.

Below that you’ll see a listing of all the apps with access to the microphone, where you can control access on an app-by-app basis. Any app with access has a slider that is set to On. To stop any app from having access, move the slider to Off. As you use Windows 10, data is gathered about your hardware and what you do when you use Windows. Microsoft says that it collects this data as a way to continually improve Windows and to offer you customized advice on how to best use Windows.

That makes plenty of people uncomfortable. If you’re one of them, you can to a certain extent control what kind of diagnostic data is gathered about you. In the “Diagnostic data” section, you can choose between two levels of diagnostic data to be gathered. Note that there’s no way to stop Microsoft from gathering diagnostic data entirely. Here are your two choices:. Next, scroll down to the “Tailored experiences” section and move the slider to Off. This won’t affect the data Microsoft gathers, but it will turn off targeted ads and tips that are based on that information.

So while it won’t enhance your privacy, you’ll at least cut down on the annoyance factor. Now scroll a bit further down and in the “Delete diagnostic data” section, click Delete. That will delete all the diagnostic data Microsoft has gathered about you. However, after you delete it, Microsoft will start gathering the data again. That will stop Windows 10 from sending to Microsoft the words you input using the keyboard and inking.

One final note about diagnostic data. You may have heard about a tool Microsoft has been hyping, called the Diagnostic Data Viewer, which you can download from the Microsoft Store. Microsoft claims it lets you see exactly what kind of diagnostic data Microsoft gathers about you. Don’t believe it. It’s something only a programmer could love — or understand. You won’t be able to use it to clearly see the diagnostic data Microsoft collects.

Instead, you’ll scroll or search through incomprehensible headings such as “TelClientSynthetic. IEFrameProcessAttached” with no explanation of what it means. Click any heading, and you’ll find even more incomprehensible data. Microsoft has built an excellent, little-known web tool called the Privacy Dashboard that lets you track and delete a lot of information Microsoft gathers about you.

As covered earlier in this story, here you can turn off ad targeting. You can also view and delete your browsing history, search history, location activity, voice activity, media activity, and more. Note that for your browsing and search history, it only tracks your activity when you use Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer.

It doesn’t track data when you use other browsers, like Chrome or Firefox. And it only tracks your location history when you’re using Microsoft devices, not those that use iOS or Android. Microsoft’s little-known Privacy Dashboard is a great place to delete much of the information Microsoft gathers about you.

To use it, head to the information you want to view and clear, then click the appropriate link — for example, View and delete browser history in Microsoft Edge. All this shouldn’t take that long and will do a great deal to protect your privacy. However, if you want to dig even deeper into privacy protections, there’s something else you can do. Launch the Settings app and click Privacy.

On the left-hand side of the screen, you’ll see the various areas where you can get even more granular about privacy — for example, in the Windows permissions section you can change your global privacy options for things such as speech recognition and inking.

And here’s where you’ll get access to all app permissions, as outlined earlier in this article. These steps can take you a long way towards making sure that Windows 10 doesn’t cross the line into gathering data you’d prefer remain private. This article was originally published in January and most recently updated in August Here are the latest Insider stories. More Insider Sign Out.


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