Save the date! February the 12th is National Clean Out Your Computer Day. That’s right, before you sort out your Valentine’s Day plans, make sure to give your computer a thorough clean. This doesn’t just mean dusting off your keyboard and wiping down the screen: you also need to update your software, uninstall old programs and clear up space on your hard drive.
Most people take care to clean out their houses regularly. This usually involves mopping, dusting, disinfecting, getting rid of junk and fixing leaky faucets and tiles. The reasons for this are obvious – without a regular clean, dirt and mess piles up and your house can become unlivable. But, did you know that your computer needs a good annual clean out too?
Why Is It Necessary To Clean Your Computer?
First of all, it’s always easier to work in a clean environment, and this applies to your computer as well. If your home screen is uncluttered and all your files are neatly stored, you will work better and faster. Also, updating your software is crucial for combating malware and viruses. Running virus scans stops hackers from breaking into your system and cleaning out old programs and files clears up valuable space on your hard drive.
So How Do You Clean Out Your Computer’s Software?
Cleaning out your computer doesn’t have to take long, nor does it have to be difficult. Follow these steps and your computer will be good as new in no time!
- Backup your device: During the cleaning process, you may accidentally delete something which you really needed. Backup all your files onto an external hard drive or a cloud beforehand.
- Run a virus scan: Before you can start to clean up your device you must first check to see if any malware is lurking somewhere. Download and install antivirus software (if you haven’t already) and set it to run a full scan. This may take several hours, but you can still use your computer in the meantime. Check out our best antivirus software review for more information on which antivirus software to buy.
- Uninstall old programs: Once the antivirus scan is finished, and all malware has been quarantined and removed, you can start to clean up your computer. Open up the ‘uninstall program’ panel and scroll through the list of programs that are installed on your device. If you come across any that you no longer use, delete them. If you find a program and you’re not sure what it is, then don’t delete it without looking a bit more into it! It may be a key program that comes pre-installed, and without which, your device won’t run as it should. As such, it’s best to Google it to find out what it might be, and then delete it if it turns out it isn’t necessary after all.
- Update your software: Once you’ve finished deleting all the unnecessary programs, make sure that all your software is up to date. This is crucial as outdated software is vulnerable to viruses, not to mention, can horribly slow down your computer.
- Delete unused user accounts: If you share your computer with family members and friends, make sure all the user accounts are active. If you have an old user account which is inactive, just delete it. This will clear up space on your hard drive and boost its overall performance.
- Delete old files: To do this, open up all your documents and folders and scroll through to find any unneeded files. Pay close attention to the downloads folder which can easily get filled up over time. Also, consider moving videos and images to cloud storage to help preserve hard drive space.
- Organize your home screen: If you have lots of shortcuts on your home screen, try to organize them. Delete all shortcuts which are no longer active and create folders or related or grouped together documents, so you don’t have individual files all over the screen.
Tips to Keep Your Computer Tidy:
If you want to make things easier in the long run, expand your computer’s lifespan and maximize performance, then it’s easy to do: here re a few have to know (and do) tips:
- Run a weekly virus scan
- Get an ad blocker
- Invest in cloud storage
- Group all separate but related files into folders
You should also pay attention to your digital footprint. Like most people, you probably have several social media accounts, i.e. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube etc. It’s well worth your while to ensure that all the privacy settings on these accounts are configured (not to mention, secured) properly, and not everything you do is set automatically to ‘public’, for anyone and everyone’s viewing pleasure.
Also, with so many accounts it’s easy to fall into the trap of having one password which you reuse over and over again. Needless to say, this is a hacker’s dream, if they crack one of your accounts, the rest will fall like dominoes. You may even – but we sincerely hope not – use the same password for your PayPal, Neteller and online banking accounts! Be sure to use different passwords for all of your online accounts and update them often – a password manager can seriously help you with generating and safely storing your passwords.
Out With The Old – In With The New
When you declutter, you make space for new, more useful items. Your computer hard drive has limited memory so it doesn’t make sense to fill it up with unused programs, abandoned user accounts and videos and images which can be stored in a cloud.
Clean up your computer each year on the second Monday in February, and you’ll be amazed at just how much room your computer has and how fast it can run.