Image: iStock/Korovin

Regardless of whether you are a business user manning a workstation, a casual user surfing the web, or a gamer adventuring in a fantasy land, your computing experience will be better if your Windows 10 PC is optimized for superior performance. However, in an age where file storage is fast and cheap, many fail to consider how much computer performance can be impacted by misused hard drive space.

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Storage and hard drive performance optimization for computers running Microsoft Windows 10 version 20H2 can be achieved through the standard System Settings menu system—no need for the Windows 10 Control Panel. While a major portion of storage and hard drive optimization in Windows 10 is automated, not all of it is and those settings may require a few tweaks.

This how-to tutorial shows you how to access and adjust hard drive and storage performance settings in Windows 10 20H2.

How to optimize hard drives under Windows 10 20H2

The Storage Settings menu is located in Windows 10 System Settings. Click or tap the Start Menu button, click the Settings icon (gear), and then select the Systems menu item. Use the left-hand navigation bar to select the Storage screen, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

The automated port of Windows 10 storage optimization is called Storage Sense, and it should generally be turned on for best performance. Click the “Configure Storage Sense or run it now” link to see its settings, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

From the Storage Sense Settings Screen, you can decide how often Storage Sense will run, how often temporary and downloaded files will be deleted, and how long cloud storage systems like OneDrive will maintain local file copies. Once you have made your choices, turn on Storage Sense and click the Clean Now button located at the bottom of the page.

SEE: How to access the traditional Control Panel lost in the Windows 10 Creators Update (TechRepublic)

Depending on the state of your storage devices, the process could take more than a few minutes.

Navigate back to the Storage Settings screen and scroll down to show the details of each of the system’s hard drives, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

From here, you can delete applications you don’t need or use, choose temporary files to remove, and see where storage space could be recovered. Click a category to reveal its details. For example, clicking Apps & Features, as shown in Figure D, reveals a detailed list of installed applications. Traditionally, this list would have to be found in the Windows 10 Control Panel.

Figure D

Again, on the Storage Settings screen, scroll down to the “More storage settings” section, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

This section allows you to view other drives, change where new content is stored, manage storage spaces, and view backup options. This section also grants access to the hard drive optimization settings which are typically only reachable through the Windows 10 Control Panel. Click the “Optimize Drives” link to reach the screen shown in Figure F.

Figure F

Ideally, your hard drives should have little to no fragmentation. In the past, defragging hard drives was just part of regular scheduled maintenance on all Windows devices. But with Windows 10, defragging is now performed routinely and automatically. In our example, defragging optimization is performed weekly.

SEE: How to improve performance with the updated Performance Monitor in Windows 10 (TechRepublic)

What’s your performance optimization responsibility?

While many of the performance optimization and maintenance duties required to keep a Windows 10 PC operating at peak efficiency are now automated, IT pros and users still have a responsibility to at least monitor storage settings and hard drive capacities. Current versions of Windows 10 allow users to access the most important storage performance settings through the System Settings menu, eliminating complications often associated with the traditional Windows Control Panel.

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