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How to Clean Out Your Computer for Optimal Performance

wiping-laptop-screen

Were you aware that the second Monday of every February is what’s known as Clean Out Your Computer Day? Any guess as to why this merits a yearly (albeit non-traditional) holiday? Well, it’s probably because our computers are an essential part of our everyday personal and professional lives.

Most people don’t spend a lot of time cleaning out their computer, though. They just toss files into folders, download program after program, and then don’t understand why their computer isn’t as fast as it used to be. Your computer should be treated like any other essential appliance or machinery in your home or business to ensure it performs optimally regardless of how long you’ve had it.

In honor of Clean Out Your Computer Day, the following guide will teach you everything you need to know about how to keep your computer clean and organized, both inside and out, and destress a little about running your business.

3 Steps to Clean Out Your Computer

Step 1. Clean Out Your Computer on the Outside

Your computer can attract a lot of unsavory things: dust particles, hair, food, and sometimes other substances, based on what surrounds you at home or in the workplace. Thus, it’s important to keep the surface of it clean not just for your own health and cleanliness but to prevent those particles from blocking airflow within the machine.

Here’s how to clean out your computer externally:

Surface

First, turn off your computer and disconnect it from everything. Starting with the outside of the computer and the base unit (if you have a PC), dampen a microfiber cloth and wipe every inch of it down.

clean out your computerFilters/Ports

If you have a PC, be sure to clean out your dust filters. For laptops, wipe around the ports, but be careful not to get them wet.

Screen

Use a fresh and dry microfiber cloth to wipe down your screen. Then dampen it with a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water. Never use harsh cleaners like alcohol or ammonia.

Keyboard

Use a new cloth to wipe off the surface of the keyboard. Then you can spray it with an air duster to remove any particles that have gotten in the cracks. Use an alcohol-soaked Q-tip to get the rest.

clean out your computer keyboardMouse

Clean your mouse with an alcohol-dampened cloth. Get the top and bottom, including the laser or roller.

Headsets

If you use a headset or headphones while you work, be sure to clean those too with a damp cloth.

Step 2.  Clean Out Your Computer Internally

Even if it doesn’t seem like your computer is slow to load or run, if you’ve had the machine awhile and had a chance to amass enough folders, files, and applications, then your system likely needs a good scrub.

Here’s how to clean out your computer internally:

Antivirus/Anti-malware

First, be sure you have antivirus and spyware set up on your computer. If it hasn’t run recently, do so now.

If you don’t have antivirus or spyware, check out products from AVG or  McAfee.

Applications

Go through all of your computer’s applications. On a PC, you’ll need to uninstall any programs you don’t use or don’t want there. On a Mac, drag those apps into the recycling bin and then empty it.

clean out your computer day - empty recycle bin

As a rule of thumb, you should delete any applications that you haven’t used in at least six months.

Desktop

If you’re one of those people with a desktop screen littered with files or folders, now is the time to clean it up. Take the time to put the items sitting on your desktop into folders where they belong. If you don’t have folders, create them. By doing this, you’ll be able to more quickly retrieve the files you need, which will save you tons of time.

Files and Folders

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which files (and folders) can go and which can stay. However, anything that is unused, unnecessary, or simply a junk file should be deleted. Be sure to check your file sizes as well. Anything that’s excessively large should be moved off of the hard drive and either into the cloud or onto a portable hard drive.

clean out your computer day - file organization

Also, you should think about moving as much as you can to the cloud to free your computer from having to hold all that weight. The cloud provides the added bonus of being able to organize your files better while also improving collaboration with others.

Downloads

Your downloaded files can quickly amass on your hard drive. If you’ve taken care to store the files you want to keep elsewhere, you should then clear out your downloads folder.

Duplicates

Every now and again, you may find that a duplicate file has been generated, uploaded, or downloaded to your computer. You can use a tool like Duplicate Detective to find and remove them. AVG also has a relatively inexpensive PC Tuneup program that will help to identify and remove duplicates.

AVG PC tuneup - clean out your computer dayPC Care

PCs sometimes require extra work to clean them up. If you’re a PC owner, be sure to defragment your computer, remove unnecessary programs from the startup auto-load, and use the Disk Cleanup utility.

Step 3. Enjoy a More Optimized Computer Experience

Once your computer is adequately cleaned up, you should experience faster loading times, increased storage, less time to accomplish tasks, and increased security. Enjoy that!

A dirty surface and unkempt hard drive can lead to some severe issues with computer performance. That’s why you should take time on this Clean Out Your Computer Day to do something about it.

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The VirTasktic Dream Team

The Dream Team at VirTasktic is dedicated to helping small businesses increase sales and growth by providing valuable information about content marketing tools and strategies they can employ immediately in their marketing strategy.

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