Every second Monday in February the National Day Calendar reminds us that it is National Clean Out Your Computer Day. This is an official reminder to take inventory of our hardware, software, documents, and apps and channel our inner Marie Kondo. We are antsy to get started on spring cleaning now that Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow and spring’s supposedly right around the corner!
If you’re not working with an IT company or technology advisor you are probably not putting much effort toward this highly understated but important exercise of technical “housekeeping”. Well, all computers and components are deserving of and, frankly, in need of regular cleanup and maintenance. Staying organized is part of that process!
Here are a few straightforward steps you can take to observe National Clean Out Your Computer Day, even without IT provider support or technical intervention.
Update Programs and Applications
If you’re working on a business device, stop here and consult your IT contact or team. They should be working to stay up on your security patches, enhancements, optimization, and so on.
If you’re going it alone, here are some things to think about:
Are there any apps you never use? If so, why hold onto them?
* If you delete them and there is an account associated with them, make sure to follow up by closing that out if you’re not planning to use it anymore.
Are your apps and programs up-to-date with regard to patches and security updates?
Decide which programs and apps you need to start up automatically when you first boot up your computer. That is a setting you can change.
Get Rid Of Junk
- Go through your email inbox.
You are probably holding onto some emails that you no longer need. Work through your subfolders, and as you go you can reorder and consolidate as it makes sense. Purge your junk and spam folders in this process, of course.
- Empty your recycle bin.
Your computer’s recycle bin is there so you can recover deleted files if you need them. Unless and until you empty your recycle bin, its contents will continue to take up free space on your machine.
- Delete files you don’t need.
Are you holding on to drafts or versions of things that are obsolete? Do you have duplicates stored?
We suggest proceeding with caution, of course, as you’re working through things. You don’t want to get rid of something you do need; however, reviewing and organizing can give you a fresh perspective on what you have and how you are using it.
Don’t forget to look in your downloads folder and
- Clean up your folders.
It is important to keep files in places where you can find them as you need them. Unfortunately, this process can go rogue quickly, which ends with lots of unnecessary, overlapping, and redundant locations for things. Review your folders and storage structure to ensure that you’re being efficient with your organization.
You might be familiar with the old process of defragmentation, or “defrag”. If you’re on a machine with a solid-state drive or SSD, you really don’t need to be doing this. So, that is left off this list.
Defragging helps with mechanical latency – without it, your computer’s hard drive has to look all over a drive to find all the parts of your files and bring them together. SSD’s are read electronically and don’t actually have mechanical parts, so the time to find what your hard drive is a non-issue.
Clean Your Machine
- Turn off your computer and disconnect the battery and any power source otherwise.
- Turn the keyboard (or open laptop) upside down and gently shake and bump it to loosen and remove dirt and dust as you can. From there, you can use compressed air to clean in between your keys.
- Use rubbing alcohol on a paper towel or some cotton to clean off your keys and mouse, but do not dump alcohol (or any liquid for that matter) on any components of your device including these peripherals.
- To clean your monitor, you should only use water on a soft cloth. Skip the alcohol for this step! Again, do not spray or dump liquids onto your screen. It can damage or completely fry, for that matter, internal components.
- An anti-static cloth is the best thing to use for dusting your computer.
Don’t use any solvents. You can use ammonia mixed with water or glass cleaner (which is usually ammonia and water primarily), but make sure it is super mild.
- If you’re using a PC, as opposed to a laptop, you may want to remove the side panel of your tower (if a larger form factor especially) and gently wipe, blow, or vacuum the dust out of fan and grill areas.
We don’t recommend diving deeper to clean components like your CPU, motherboard, power supply, or graphics card on your own. If you’re concerned about performance issues or anything that might require some investigation, reach out to someone with IT expertise who can do this safely without doing damage to the device!
We hope you find these tips helpful as you “celebrate” National Clean Out Your Computer Day.
If you have any questions or would like help in keeping your computers clean and working well throughout the year, contact us today!