31 Comments

Summary:

It can be hard to remember to routinely clean out your computer. That’s why having a day devoted to making sure that your computer is working well and that you can find anything you need on it is a good idea.

It can be hard to remember to routinely clean out your computer — whether that means running virus scans or organizing your files. That’s why having a day devoted to making sure that your computer is working well and that you can find anything you need on it is a good idea. The Institute for Business Technology originally sponsored a National Clean Out Your Computer Day several years ago, assigning it to the second Monday in February. It’s a holiday well worth adding to your calendar.

Clean Up Your Operating System

It seems to be a fact of life that the longer your operating system has been installed on your computer, the slower it gets. I recently had to back up all my data and reinstall my operating system, and the difference it made is incredible. Even if you aren’t prepared to completely wipe your system, there are some things you can do to speed things up.

Microsoft recommends running built-in utilities, like Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter, on a regular basis. There are comparable utilities in every operating system. You can also use an external tool, like Iolo Technologies’ System Mechanic, which can fix common problems and reduce demands on your system, like unused background programs.

Clean Out Files

Even as hard drives keep getting bigger, we keep coming up with files to fill them up. While sorting through all your files may not be necessary, doing a little spring cleaning can make them easier to manage. Personally, I try to get the files I don’t think I’m going to need again off my main computer and on to a separate hard drive every so often, if only to make sure that I have space for more.

It may not be a bad idea to go through what you have on other storage media. I recently ran across a stack of floppy disks, only to realize that I didn’t have access to anything that could actually read them at this point. There are a few files there that I’d like to have, but otherwise, there’s no reason to cart around old floppy disks.

Don’t Forget the Hardware

Even if the only part of your computer that you can actually see is the monitor, it’s worthwhile to occasionally knock the dust off. We’ve discussed cleaning laptops before, and cleaning desktops isn’t too different. Wipe down those monitors, clear out vents and maybe even clean your keyboard and mouse while you’re at it. Just getting rid of the dust can extend your computer’s life.

Make Your Progress Permanent

Once you’ve gotten your computer cleaned out, it’s worth taking a little time to make sure that it stays that way. One of the best options is to make sure that any tools you’re using are set up to run automatically — virus scanners, backups and so forth should be running regularly without you needing to remember to start them up.

Don’t forget to mark Clean Out Your Computer Day on the calendar for next year!

Photo by Flickr user PhotoOptik, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Related research

Subscriber Content
?
Subscriber content comes from Gigaom Research, bridging the gap between breaking news and long-tail research. Visit any of our reports to learn more and subscribe.
By Thursday Bram
  1. I usually reformat my computer once a year. Gets rid of programs and files I looked at and forgot about. It also makes me back up everything I’ve put on my hard drive if I really want to keep it.

    Share
  2. [...] Follow this link: Feb. 8 is Clean Out Your Computer Day – WebWorkerDaily [...]

    Share
  3. here are some alternatives to backup:
    http://michkhoo.blogspot.com/2010/01/backup-alternative-make-list-of-all.html

    mostly i get messed because i create too many folders

    Share
  4. A yearly reformat is too much for me but I bet it makes things run smoother, great tips! http://cleanoutyourcomputerday.com

    Share
  5. [...] to WebWorkerDaily, today is "Clean Out Your Computer Day," which means anything from scanning your system for viruses or getting the rat's nest of files [...]

    Share
  6. [...] via Feb. 8 is Clean Out Your Computer Day – WebWorkerDaily. [...]

    Share
  7. “Microsoft recommends running built-in utilities, like Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter, on a regular basis.”

    Since nobody actually does this, I always install an automatic defragmentation utility that runs during idle times, such as My Defrag or Smart Defrag when working on somebody’s Windows PC.

    http://www.mydefrag.com/

    http://www.iobit.com/iobitsmartdefrag.html

    Share
  8. Solid advice, thanks for the reminder. As I’m running a computer with a pre-installed operating system, I can’t wipe it totally clean as I haven’t got the OS on a CD, but am running antivirus, defragger and disk cleaner software more or less regularly, about once a month.

    One thing I’ve found useful for quickly archiving old, not-needed-just-now files on an external drive to get them out of the way is to try to be disciplined when naming files. These days, long file names are not a problem, so I’ve started to precede the actual filename with the date, for example 100208whatever.doc.

    This has three benefits: 1) it keeps the files in chronological order (handy when searching for different versions of the same file), 2) it allows quick archiving by month/year or whatever your preferred frequency, 3) it speeds up searches if you need old material for billing, writing offers or just deleting altogether.

    Share
  9. Also

    (1) clear the stored Flash objects using Adobe’s manager console at

    http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/settings_manager07.html

    The BetterPrivacy plug-in for Firefox does this automatically.

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/6623

    (2) for Windows, make sure that the operating system is fully patched using Microsoft Update

    http://update.microsoft.com/

    (3) and that the applications are up-to-date using Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI)

    http://secunia.com/vulnerability_scanning/personal/

    Share
  10. [...] 8 februari skall man städa sin dator Av martenatwork Leave a Kommentar Kategorier: Persondatorer Tags: backup, dammsuga, tvätta, virus Tydligen bestämde någon det. Där ser man. [...]

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post