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!