Happy Valentine’s Day! The Hallmark Holiday definitely dominates this week’s news. But did you know that there was another holiday celebrated this week? Monday was National Clean Out Your Computer Day (yeah, we didn’t realize it either – there really is a “holiday” for everything isn’t there?) But here at ITeck, we think this is one really worth celebrating! So send your computer a heart-felt thank you this February by setting aside some time for a clean and TLC.
We can all sometimes be a bit unintentional about how we approach the health and cleanliness of our computer systems in both work and life. So this is a perfect moment to take stock of our digital and hardware health in the new-ish year.
And let’s be realistic – this is really a week-long project, but today is a great day to start! Set aside some time today to make a plan for regaining order of all those ones and zeros that make up your digital life. Here are some key steps you can take to over the coming days to improve the well-being of your computers.
Clean your computer’s hardware.
- Unplug and turn off your computer. Use a soft cloth, maybe a cotton swab and a bit of isopropyl alcohol to wipe down the surfaces or your copter while it’s off and unplugged. This includes the screen, keyboard, case and elsewhere! Be careful around ports and plugs as you want to make sure that moisture does not get inside your computer’s case.
- Use a can of compressed air to blow out dust and dirt that have accumulated in your computer’s keyboard, fan and vents.
- Wipe down the outside of your mouse! And try not to think about how long it’s been since you last did so. Or where your hands have been since then.
- If you want to go really for a really deep clean, here are two more comprehensive guides to cleaning a laptop (The New York Times) and a CPU (CNET).
Clean out the inside of your computer (you know, that digital stuff).
- Clean files off your desktop. Create a clean slate, organize any files that have been living there in the appropriate files or delete them!
- Review your downloads folder. This is where too many files go to die a slow painful death, or just eat up your computer’s memory and processing capacity. Delete files you don’t need any more or file them away in the appropriate place. This is a place in your computer’s file system that is also often bloated with duplicate files so keep an eye out to make sure you’re not repeating that duplication when you move files into the rightful places.
- Revisit folder hierarchies. Delete empty folders and consolidate ones that have overlapping content.
- Commit to one cloud service for storage. This may be a luxury for many of us, but it makes sense to at least be intentional about which services you’re using for which purposes (i.e. one for work and one for personal). Take some time to consider which cloud services (Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, etc.) you can eliminate from your repertoire and move any files from those that you won’t use anymore to their appropriate place on the cloud storage services that best meet your needs.
- Delete and organize your shortcuts, extensions and bookmarks. Are there program shortcuts on your desktop or tool bar that you no longer use? What about bookmarks for past projects? Browser extensions that you don’t use any more (or that you never knew you had)? Today’s the perfect time to get rid of anything you don’t use on a regular basis.
- Empty the trash on your computer. Yet another place where files go to die a slow painful death. We too often forget that important last step of emptying the trash or recycling bin on our computers and so files live there in some sort of memory-eating purgatory. Hit that ‘Empty Trash’ button and send them to their rightful fate.
- Initiate a good malware scan. If you have any sort of computer security software (and you should!) this is likely a part of the package, but this is a good time to make sure that such scans are running on a regular basis. If you don’t have a computer security suite that you’re already using, you can try using a browser to scan your computer for malicious code. Google Chrome has this built into its system. There are also some free antivirus programs out there that include malware scans. Just make sure to research and download them from reputable resources, (such as CNET).
- Defrag your computer. If you work on a PC, there are straightforward instructions for how to use this basic maintenance routine to improve your computer’s performance. If you work on a computer with a solid state drive or a Mac, this is less necessary, but still good to be aware of.
- Organize your phone screen. In today’s reality the computers we use the most are probably the ones in our pocket, not on our desktop. So don’t neglect your phone on National Clean Out Your Computer Day. Take some time to delete unused apps, organize apps you do use into folders, and check how your phone is using it’s memory. This might also be a good opportunity to look into your privacy settings too!
- Empty your email trash and spam folders. Like above, our digital clutter is not limited to computer files. Approaching email organization can be a daunting task and one that probably deserves its own national holiday, but one quick step you can take today is to empty your trash and spam folders.
If you accomplish all of the above over the few days, many congratulations are due to you. Here’s to a cleaner and healthier digital life in 2019! We hope this has been helpful and don’t hesitate to be in touch of you need some support in developing your organization’s computer cleanliness protocols!.
More in-depth ideas for cleaning up your computer and digital life can be found in this article from Wired, How to Clean Your Computer Inside and Out.
Please note that all links included in this article are not meant as specific endorsements of any products mentioned, but rather intended as additional resources and suggestions.