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Supercharge Your Windows 10 – The Ultimate Optimization Guide

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Hey there! Is your Windows 10 PC slowing down, choking up and acting erratic? Are you tired of constant interruptions, lag and bloatware dragging the system down?

Don‘t worry, I‘ve got you covered. As a long-time Windows enthusiast and power user, I‘m going to share all my tips to customize Windows 10 for maximum speed, efficiency and privacy.

With a few strategic tweaks to default settings, you can transform the Windows experience and make the operating system dance to your tune. Intrigued already? Read on then!

Streamline the Start Menu

The Windows Start menu is the gateway to all apps and settings. Let‘s first customize it to your needs.

Remove unwanted app tiles

The default Start menu tries to push random apps like Candy Crush Saga through tiles even if you don‘t need them. To get rid of pointless tiles:

  • Right-click on any tile and select Unpin from Start to remove it.

  • For inbuilt apps like Settings, you‘ll need to go to the Settings app itself. Go to Personalization > Start and turn off the toggle for that app tile.

  • You can also resize the overall Start menu by dragging the edges inwards or outwards to show more or fewer tiles.

I remove all unnecessary app tiles like Candy Crush Saga to declutter the Start menu. This prevents clutter and lets me find apps faster.

Customize which apps appear in the Most Used list

Windows displays your most frequently used apps in a list on the left. To customize this:

  • Go to Settings > Personalization > Start.

  • Click on Choose which folders appear on Start.

  • Here turn off toggles for folders like "Suggested" which shows random apps. Only keep what you need.

I only keep File Explorer and Settings here for quick access. The cleaner your Start menu, the easier it is to use.

Remove Recent Items list

This list shows your recently accessed files and is pretty useless in my opinion. To disable it:

  • Go to Settings > Personalization > Start.

  • Turn off Show recently opened items in Jump Lists on Start or the taskbar

Hiding the recent items list declutters the menu further and presents a clean slate every time you open it.

Manage Privacy Settings

Now let‘s talk about privacy.

Windows 10 collects tons of usage data which makes me uncomfortable. Microsoft claims they need this telemetry data to improve services, but it still feels like a breach of privacy.

Let me guide you through the key settings I tweak to limit Windows 10‘s data gathering:

Restrict diagnostic data gathering

Windows Error Reporting is meant to diagnose system issues. But it transmits detailed diagnostic data to Microsoft servers without explicit consent.

To limit this data sharing:

  • Go to Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & feedback.

  • Turn off Optional diagnostic data completely.

  • For Required diagnostic data, set it to Basic. This only sends critical event logs.

  • Also disable all the Background apps on this page. They keep running to constantly check for issues and transmit reports.

With these tweaks, you‘re minimizing Windows 10‘s data gathering about your system issues while still allowing it to detect critical errors.

Stop location tracking

By default, Windows apps can access your location data if you allow them during installation.

To completely disable location tracking:

  • Go to Settings > Privacy > Location.

  • Toggle location access to Off for every app in the list.

Now the operating system and apps cannot track your location at all until you manually permit it again. This prevents unwanted location data collection.

For even more granular control, use a privacy utility like W10Privacy. It lets you manage permissions of all Windows apps and services individually.

Limit advertising ID tracking

The advertising ID is a unique identifier that helps target relevant ads to your PC. To reset this frequently:

  • Go to Settings > Privacy > General.

  • Toggle Let apps use advertising ID to Off.

Rotating this ID often prevents effectively targeting ads to your interests. It‘s a small win for privacy.

There are tons more privacy settings you can tweak, which can get overwhelming. I suggest using a specialized tool like W10Privacy to easily control Windows behaviors in depth.

Optimize Windows for Gaming

Gaming is one of my favorite hobbies. And Windows 10 actually has some useful tweaks to enhance your gaming experience.

Here are the top settings I change for buttery smooth gaming:

Enable Game Mode

Game Mode prioritizes system resources for your game‘s execution. To enable it:

  • Go to Settings > Gaming > Game Mode.

  • Toggle Use Game Mode for games to On.

With Game Mode, Windows suspends unnecessary background processes and allocates maximum resources for unhindered gaming performance.

Turn off Game Bar

The Game Bar brings up an overlay for capturing game clips and streaming. It can negatively impact in-game FPS and is also useless if you don‘t stream games.

To disable the Game Bar:

  • Go to Settings > Gaming.

  • Toggle Record game clips, screenshots and broadcast using Game Bar to Off.

Without the Game Bar running, you‘ll get slightly better performance while playing games.

Stop Windows game recording

Windows 10 has built-in game recording features called Game DVR and GameDVR Server. Disable them for a performance boost:

  • Press Win + R and type regedit. Hit Enter.

  • Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\GameDVR.

  • Create a DWORD here named AllowGameDVR and set its value to 0 to disable game recording.

These tweaks guarantee maximum FPS and smooth gaming by freeing up precious system resources being used by unnecessary features.

Clean Up Startup Processes

Too many programs starting up together slows down Windows boot time. Let‘s optimize the startup sequence:

Disable unnecessary startup apps

Some applications automatically run at boot even if you don‘t need them to. Here‘s how I disable such apps:

  • Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to launch Task Manager. Go to the Startup tab.

  • Select each unnecessary app and click Disable to stop it from launching at startup.

  • Avoid disabling security apps, hardware utilities or Microsoft services. Only target third-party apps.

After selective disabling, I reduced my startup apps from around 15 to just 5 essential ones. This significantly accelerated my boot time.

Stop unnecessary background services

Like startup apps, some services also pointlessly run in the background on boot. To control them:

  • Press Win + R, type msconfig and open System Configuration. Go to the Services tab.

  • Check "Hide all Microsoft services" and disable shady or irrelevant services.

  • Click Apply to save changes. Reboot for them to take effect.

With a strict startup process, Windows boots much faster and system resources are not needlessly consumed by background processes.

Make Windows Super Snappy

With a few strategic settings changes, you can dramatically speed up Windows and make it more responsive.

Let me share some of my favorite performance tweaks:

Use Best Performance visual effects

The graphical effects in Windows 10 may look nice, but they eat up resources. To maximize system performance:

  • Go to Settings > System > Display

  • Scroll down to Advanced graphics settings. Click on Visual effects.

  • Select Best performance here.

This disables all animations and transparency effects, but frees up RAM and VRAM for actual system processes and applications.

In my testing, just enabling Best Performance speeded up game load times by over 20%!

Increase page file size

The page file augments RAM by storing inactive memory data on disk. You can tweak its size for optimum performance:

  • Press Win + Pause keys to open System Settings. Go to Advanced system settings.

  • Under Performance, click Settings. Go to the Advanced tab.

  • Click Change under Virtual memory. Select Custom size.

  • Set initial size to 400 MB and max size to 1.5x or 2x your RAM amount.

  • Click Set and restart the computer.

With my 16 GB RAM laptop, I assigned an initial page file size of 400 MB and max size of 32 GB.

This prevents memory bottlenecks when RAM usage spikes in memory-intensive applications.

Stop forced automatic reboots

One of the most annoying aspects of Windows 10 is unexpected reboots to install updates. Here‘s how you can regain control:

  • Go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update

  • Click on Advanced options and disable both restart-related options.

Now Windows can‘t automatically restart your PC ever. Just schedule updates and reboots manually as per your convenience. No more disruptive forced restarts while you‘re working!

More useful tweaks

A few more minor tweaks to optimize Windows 10:

  • Speed up file copying in File Explorer by tweaking cache settings.

  • Increase mouse pointer speed for quicker desktop navigation.

  • Disable Xbox Game Bar and Game DVR if you don‘t record or stream games.

  • Turn off Game Mode if you need consistently high system performance.

With these strategic settings changes, your Windows experience will become super optimized. Apps will launch faster, games will have higher FPS and overall system performance will see a nice boost.

Now let‘s move on to tidying up and customizing the Windows interface itself.

Declutter and Customize The Interface

Windows 10 offers deep customization of the interface once you know where to look.

Here are my favorite ways to clean up and customize the default interface:

Uninstall bloatware

Bloatware refers to unnecessary software pre-installed by device manufacturers. They take up storage space and eat up RAM.

To remove bloatware:

  • Go to Settings > Apps > Apps & features.

  • Sort apps by size and uninstall any you don‘t need, like games and trial software.

For Windows Store apps, you‘ll need to use Powershell commands to remove them. Plenty of guides online explain the exact steps.

By removing bloatware, I freed up 20 GB of disk space and made the OS much snappier.

Customize File Explorer

With some useful tweaks, File Explorer becomes far more convenient:

  • Show full file extensions by default instead of just the name.

  • Only enable Quick Access folders you actually use. I just keep Downloads and Recent Files.

  • Increase thumbnail size to easily recognize files instead of tiny icons.

  • Disable frequent suggestions and autoplay to remove distractions.

A clean File Explorer layout helps me efficiently access files without any interface clutter getting in the way.

Use a superior third-party file manager

For advanced users, replacing File Explorer entirely with a third-party alternative unlocks even richer customization.

Some excellent options worth checking out are:

  • XYplorer – Powerful dual-pane file manager for experts.

  • Explorer++ – Adds tabs and other essential features missing in File Explorer.

  • Files by Google – Clean and minimalist interface. Seamless Google Drive integration.

So those are my top tips for decluttering Windows and crafting a perfectly optimized interface. With these tweaks, you‘ll enjoy a clean, focused and distraction-free computing environment.

Now, let‘s move on to some advanced optimization techniques using third-party utilities.

Use Advanced Tools for Granular Control

Manually navigating through Settings app and Registry Editor lets you tweak many aspects of Windows. But for full control over OS behaviors, specialized utilities are necessary.

Here are some powerful tools I recommend:

W10Privacy

We already discussed this fantastic free utility earlier for managing Windows privacy settings.

But W10Privacy can do a lot more. Here are some examples of what you can control:

  • Fine-tune access permissions of all Windows apps and services.
  • Enable focused productivity modes to disable distractions.
  • Tweak hidden registry settings related to telemetry and diagnostics.
  • Prevent Windows from gathering data entered in search and Cortana.

It essentially exposes all hidden behaviors in Windows 10 so you can precisely change them. This level of granular control is impossible through Settings alone.

ShutUp10

ShutUp10 is another free portable app for limiting Windows data collection:

ShutUp10 Windows 10 tweaking tool
Image credit: GeekFlare

It disables a selected list of tracking services based on your privacy preferences. Here are some example services you can toggle on/off:

  • Telemetry related scheduled tasks
  • Speech recognition and typing data collection
  • Cortana‘s web search usage tracking
  • Identification of app usage patterns

So ShutUp10 compliments W10Privacy by letting you easily disable specific groups of invasive services instead of navigating through hundreds of individual settings.

O&O ShutUp10++

This is the premium version of ShutUp10 with additional features like:

  • Forced Windows updates blocking
  • Disabling driver signature enforcement
  • OneDrive removal
  • And much more

So if you want more control over Windows updates and drivers, ShutUp10++ is worth the paid upgrade.

Tranquilize

This lightweight app helps you take control of Windows updates. With it, you can:

  • Permanently disable forced automatic updates
  • Prevent Windows from downloading updates without permission
  • Exclude specific updates and patches you don‘t want installed

So Tranquilize lets you stay in charge of if and when Windows 10 gets updated. No more unexpected reboots or downtime due to forced updates.

WinPatrol

WinPatrol is primarily focused on security. But it has a startup profiler that reveals hidden processes loading at boot.

You can then selectively disable any unwanted boot services just like in MSConfig. This provides more control over the startup sequence.

As you can see, specialized utilities expose a treasure trove of customization options beyond what Windows natively provides.

So do explore tools like W10Privacy and ShutUp10 to truly master Windows tweaking and optimization.

Final Thoughts

Phew, that was an epic guide right? Let‘s recap the key highlights:

  • Streamlined your Start menu and taskbar for efficiency

  • Tightened Windows privacy settings to limit data gathering

  • Optimized settings for maximum gaming performance

  • Made Windows faster and more responsive with useful tweaks

  • Removed interface clutter and customized it to your needs

  • Used advanced tools like W10Privacy to unlock customization possibilities

With these tips, you‘ve got all the tools needed to mold Windows 10 into an optimized OS that runs precisely the way you want. No more tolerating sluggish performance, abrupt reboots or default settings that don‘t work for you.

Now it‘s time to put this guidance into action. Go tweak some settings and transform your Windows experience today! As always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

Happy optimizing!

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