Spring Cleaning for your Computer

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Because you need to, you filthy animals!

Floral prints are back, which obviously means spring is here. And while switching up wardrobe options and busting out your Swiffer for a little spring cleaning is an important rite of passage, there’s another object that could use a little spiffing up for spring: your computer. Most of the time it gets no love, but with a few quick steps, it could be running faster and looking better than ever.

Anti-Virus Scan
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It’s kind of like flossing – you should be doing it on a regular basis, but you’re probably not. Take some time this spring to run an antivirus scan and make sure your computer is free of malware. Malware is kinda like the Internet version of plaque. It builds up, slows down your computer and can ruin your digital life if you’re not careful. AVG has free AntiVirus software that works like a charm. Once you run it, be sure to clear off any malicious results immediately, restart your computer, then move on to cleaning up your desktop.

My Documents Folder

Cleaning up your desktop can feel a little like falling into a black hole. There are all of the folders you’ve built up over the years, filled with photos you’ve barely looked at, and PDFs of something that used to be important, but you don’t remember why.

While it might seem daunting, clearing out and deleting documents can help speed your computer up. The search function on your computer will drastically improve because it will no longer have to sort through all those unused files. Mac users take heed: the OS X system catalogs and adds previews of the files you have saved, so when you have too many files on your desktop they’re taking up a ton of space and slowing the system down.

Defrag your computer

Fragmentation occurs when files on your computer get split into fragments and scattered across your hard drive. It slows down your computer by making your hard disk work harder. When you defrag, the files get rearranged in a more orderly way so that similar files are closer together, ultimately speeding up programs on your computer. All you really need to know to defrag is this:  Control Panel>System and Security>Defragment Disk. Simple.

Update software
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Spring is not just the time for updating your shoe collection. You should also update your software. Keeping up-to-date on updates ensures your computer is running smoothly and it helps fend off future viruses.

Along with installing updates, you should also consider uninstalling old programs or programs you no longer use to free up disk space. Go to Control Panel> Programs and you’ll find a list of what is housed on your computer. If you find a few you never use, get rid of them.

Back up your files

Because the only thing you have to lose is …everything!

There are simple steps you can take to ensure your information is safe should you ever see your computer’s blue screen of death. Don’t be that person crying on the phone with the Geek Squad, begging them to recover photos from your son’s first birthday. Back up your files.

Programs like Time Machine for Macs and File History on PCs make daily backups of your files. Invest in an external hard drive to store really important files, such as those birthday photos.

You can (and should) set up a cloud back up as well. Cloud back up involves backing your data up on an off-site server run by a third-party provider. Using a cloud-based service like IDrive lets you access your files through the Internet and seamlessly make updates. Cloud services also offer backup support in case your computer dies, and serve as an extra precaution in case external hard drives fail.

Practical cleaning
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Ok so you’ve cleaned up the hard drive and desktop. But physically cleaning your computer hardware may not have crossed your mind. Let’s change that.

Wipe down your keyboard with disinfecting wipes. It can help you avoid nasty germs like the flu. Clean up your fan filter with some canned air, then follow PC World’s steps to wiping off your screen with a microfiber cloth and a secret screen cleaning concoction.

While spring is a great time to get your life, wardrobe and computer in order, you can do all of these tricks in any season to ensure your computer keeps running full speed ahead all year round.


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About Author

Brittany

Brittany studied English at Grove City College. She loves a good short story collection and writing about how technology shapes the world around us. Also, French fries.

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