It’s easy to ignore a messy computer. Unlike a messy room or wardrobe, you won’t trip over an old file or stub your toe on a bulky downloads folder. But while a disorganised computer may not physically get in your way, it can definitely slow you down.
So, let’s take action now! Having decluttered our wardrobes in May, I think it’s time we give our computers a little love. After all, a clean computer is a fast computer. Here is my step-by-step plan to get our computers sparkling – inside and out.
Step One: Delete, delete, delete
All good cleaning missions begin by getting rid of what you don’t need. Start with duplicate files and folders. If you use your computer for work you’re likely to have up to six versions of just one document. Send them to the trash!
Then purge your computer of all old and unwanted files. Use last modified date to shuffle up the oldest to the top. Decide what you need to archive and what you need to delete.
Move on to the old programs. If you’re like me, there are programs on your computer you used once and never again. Show no mercy – delete. Also purge shortcuts you don’t use, unwanted dashboard items (for Mac users) and the trash.
Now, that you’ve made some space, organising your computer will be much easier.
Step Two: Run utilities
Make your computer squeaky clean by running the system utilities. Like a car service, this program is designed to search out things like stray temporary Internet files and near extinct downloads.
Windows-users can do this by pressing the Disk Cleanup button in the properties window under the general tab. Click on the tools tab to check for errors and other niggling problems that might slow down your computer.
Mac users will find the Disk Utility app in the Utilities program. Aim to run the program once a month – starting now!
Step Three: Install updates
For a long time, I’ve had ‘if it ain’t broke why fix it’ approach with updates. But, I’ve changed my mind. While updating your software and operating system may take some time to get used to, it will ultimately protect your computer from viruses and any other unforeseen problems.
You can install updates on Mac by checking the Software Update app in Finder or on Windows by clicking Windows Updates in All Programs. You might also want to consider turning on automatic updates to save you the trouble for next year’s spring clean.
Step Four: Back-Up
A spring clean is a good opportunity to back-up your important files and documents. To be really thorough, you should backup in three ways:
- Time Machine on Macs or File History on Windows PCs for daily backup.
- Create a cloud back-up system.
- Backup with an external hard drive and store in a separate location.
Step Five: Clean
Once you have the contents of your computer looking spotless, the final step is to clean up the surface.
Bugs live in and outside a computer. According to a study by microbiologist Dr Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona, computer keyboards harbour up to 400 times more microbial bacteria than the average toilet seat. Luckily, common disinfectants will kill between 80 and 90 per cent of germs – so give your keyboard and mouse a good wipe down.
For a final sparkle, clean away the grim off your computer screen with a microfiber cloth and some simple cleaning solution.
DOWNLOAD: Get started now by downloading our Computer Clean checklist.
If I’ve left out anything, please let me know! Share your advice in the comments section below.