11 Apr Spring Cleaning – Be a Computer Clean-Freak!
Add a proper computer clean-up to your list of chores. It’ll be the easiest and potentially most important task of all.
My allergies are telling me it’s springtime again. You know what I’m talking about: watery eyes, ceaseless sniffing and nuclear-powered sneezing fits. There’s something about this time of year that brings one’s thoughts to a fresh start, a tabula rasa. Maybe it’s because you feel like there’s an invasion of pollen in your head. It could be that we’ve been hibernating so long that we’ve got a million objects cluttering up our homes. Whatever the reason, spring means serious cleaning.
Many cultures claim that they are the originators of the concept of spring cleaning, but my favourite version is from Iranian culture. They have a tradition they call “khooneh takouni”, which literally means “shaking the house”, always just before the Persian New Year, which happens on the first day of spring. They don’t fool around; every item in the house from top to bottom is given a thorough scrubbing.
In today’s hyper-fast information age, cleaning is quite often an afterthought. Who has the time? Aren’t there people I can hire? There are plenty of excuses not to do it. But there are few things as satisfying to one’s mental well-being as those hours after a big, needed task is done. It just plain feels good to get it over with.
This year, add a proper computer clean-up to your list of chores. It’ll be the easiest and potentially most important task of all. Think I’m crazy? Consider this: if you don’t clean your cupboards regularly, it’s not going to impact your life in a major way. But lose a crucial work-related file and it could cost you your job!
Follow these Spring Cleaning steps and you’ll end up with a computer that is safe, clean, up-to-date, and faster than before.
Studies have shown that computer and laptop keyboards have many times the bacteria of toilet seats.
Cleaning Your Hardware
Did you know that dust is the number one killer of computers? Time to use a little elbow grease! Make sure to first turn off your computer and detach all cords and devices. Get a can of compressed air and use it to clear away dust and dirt from all intake vents, device slots, keyboards and anywhere else you think it’ll do some good.
Studies have shown that computer and laptop keyboards have many times the bacteria of toilet seats. Think about that! Use some disinfectant wipes, making sure they’re not too wet, and carefully go over all the nooks and crannies of your keyboard and peripherals. Take your time to remove all the accumulated crud and grime in and around each key. A damp Q-tip can also work to access hard-to-reach areas of your hardware. Finish off the process with that most important of all computer cleaning tools, the microfibre cloth.
A microfibre cloth is just the thing to clean the monitor screen and flat exterior surfaces of your computer. Use light pressure and side-to-side strokes, not circular strokes which can grind grit right down into the glass. Don’t use paper towels because there’s a good chance that you’re going to cause a scratch. If there’s stubborn dirt, use a small amount of distilled water on the cloth. That should do the trick.
That’s a good beginning but we’re just getting started. Now that the outside of your computer is looking good, it’s time to get to work on the inside. I suggest you grab a cup of your favourite beverage, put on some cool music and some comfortable clothes. Get comfortable. This could take a little while.
Cleaning Your Computer Contents
- Remove unnecessary programs.
Chances are that when you bought your computer, it came loaded with a lot of bloatware – programs that you haven’t used and have no intention of ever using. Uninstalling these programs will save space on your computer and save time because you won’t have to scan over their names when looking for whatever program you’re going to work with. Run a search for Uninstall a program and you’ll see a list of all your system’s programs. Search through this list and if there’s something you don’t need, just right-click and then click uninstall. Easy.
- Back up files to the Cloud or an External hard drive
Can you imagine anything worse than losing files containing important work and research? Nightmare! Sadly, it happens all the time. Who can tell when a spilled cup of liquid, a random hacker, an electrical storm or some other act of God is going to attack your computer? Make it a habit to regularly (read: always) back up your files to an external hard drive or cloud system. Dropbox and OneDrive are excellent ways to give yourself peace of mind. Better still, now you can access these files from anywhere in the world.
- Install and run CCleaner
CCleaner is a utility program used to clean unwanted files and invalid Windows Registry entries from a computer as well as shutting down programs that auto-start. Think of it as a caretaker that’ll keep your computer free of clutter, duplicated files and other items that you don’t need. All these tasks are done automatically and best of all, it’s free.
- Empty the Trash and My Documents files
I’ll bet you’ve got a bunch of old games, films and unwanted pictures on your computer, haven’t you? Even if you’ve deleted them they’re still taking up space in your trash file. Time to toss them out properly! This will not just free up oodles of space on your hard drive, it will speed things up across the board.
- Update any software that needs a new version
Keep your important programs up-to-date and operating at peak performance and speed by installing the most recent updates. You’ll be killing two birds with one stone: optimizing your speed and relieving yourself from the tedium of always receiving those “update now” pop-ups that occur much too frequently.
- Go through your emails
Archive inbound and outbound emails that you don’t need in your daily inbox. I usually delete all inbound emails that I reply to because I’ll have a copy in my SENT items. Keeping thousand of emails in your inbox will slow your PC to a crawl. Don’t forget to empty that Trash file, either.
- Antivirus checkup and malware scan
It’s impossible to turn on the news these days without coming across an item about bots, hackers and identity theft. Some anti-virus programs can be a bit passive and need you to take an active part in keeping you and your computer safe. If you haven’t done it for a while, do a full antivirus assessment of your computer and a malware scan. You can’t be too careful, especially in the year 2018.
Keep your programs up-to-date and operating at peak performance by installing the most recent updates.
- Social Media Feng shui
It feels great to have hundreds of friends and followers on social media. Or does it? It may sound cruel, but, if you take an honest look at these people, you can bet there are a lot of them that you’ll barely remember, have had no contact with in ages, and don’t foresee ever contacting again. Time to shed a few “friend “pounds and delete some of this dead weight. This will save you a lot of scrolling time and relieve you of the stress and guilt from never reaching out to these most casual of acquaintances.
- Clean up desktop and start button
If most of your recently created files end up on your desktop, stop it! Create a few folders and tidy up. Better to see that background snap of your spouse at the beach than have to negotiate dozens of identical item boxes.
Treat your computer with the respect it deserves. Giving it the right amount of regular TLC will pay off in so many ways: it’ll be faster, last longer and let you sleep better. But don’t let springtime be the one time your take these steps: make it part of your routine, all year-round!