Spring Clean your PC for National Clean Out Your Computer Day
We’re nearing the point in the year when it’s time to start thinking about cleaning up around the house. But while you’re making plans to clean out the garage and downsize your belongings, consider doing some virtual cleaning as well. Today is National Clean Out Your Computer Day, a reminder to be proactive with the organization of your computer. Keeping your computer “clean” can help it run more efficiently, making it quicker, safer, and more enjoyable to use. In recognition of the day, here are 5 easy ways to clean up your computer.
Run an antivirus program
Computer viruses and malware get more and more sophisticated every day. Recent stats suggest nearly a half-million new malicious programs are recognized every day. Thankfully, antivirus software is better than ever as well. PC users with Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 have access to a built-in antivirus program—Windows Defender—that’s better than any Windows anitvirus programs before. It runs automatically, keeping you defended against attacks you may never realize are happening. Still, it’s never a bad idea to be more proactive with your virus protection, which you can do without spending a cent. There are plenty of great free antivirus programs that are just a download away. PC Mag recently reviewed a dozen options, and their top pick was Avast Free Antivirus. Regardless of what program you choose, make sure to keep its virus library updated, and remember to scan your PC regularly.
Clean up your old files
Windows computers have a built-in file cleanup system that will help you remove unwanted files from various folders across your system, all via a single menu screen. In Windows 7, you can find Disc Cleanup under Start>Accessories>System Tools>Disk Cleanup. In Windows 8 and Windows 10, simply search for Disk Cleanup to be taken to the utility. Windows will perform a short analysis of your hard drive, then show a list of potential files that can be deleted. Mouse over each file type for a description of what it is. It’s generally safe to delete Temporary Internet Files and Temporary Files, which can often take up significant amounts of your free storage space. If you’re hesitant to delete anything at this point, you can always create a system restore point before deleting, which will allow you to revert back to your system’s state before the disk cleanup.
Delete programs you no longer use
This is a pretty easy one to perform, and can open up significant amounts of hard drive space. In Windows 7, open the Control Panel, then select “Uninstall a program” under the Programs heading. In W8/10, search “uninstall” in the search bar. You’ll see a list of all programs installed on your computer. Check through the list for programs you don’t use, but are sure you don’t need. Be careful not to remove a program whose purpose you’re unsure of, but if your list is filled with free games you downloaded a year ago and haven’t played since, click on each program and hit the “uninstall” button at the top of the window.
Run disk defragmenter
Disk defragmenter is a Windows utility that reorganizes the open sections of your hard drive after files and programs are deleted, making the free space easier to access. Think of your files as a large stack of papers on a desk, and in the process of sorting and trashing unneeded papers, your stack has become scattered across the desk. Defragmenting takes that mess of papers and neatly reorganizes it back into a clean stack, opening up all that free space on your desk. Disk defragmenter is a process you can set and forget, and it’s best to let it run while you’re not using the computer. Your computer may already have a regular defragmentation scheduled, but you can also manually run it after removing large amounts of files or programs. Find it in the System Tools folder in Windows 7, or by searching for defragment in Windows 8 and 10.
Move your important files off your computer and off-site
There’s a good chance that your hard drive is filled with things you actually need, making this cleanup less effective. Eventually, your hard drive will fill up with important documents and treasured photos. One easy solution to shrinking free space is to invest in an external hard drive (or two) to get those files off the computer without losing them forever. An external hard drive connects to your computer via a simple USB cable, or can be set to connect wirelessly via your home network. Once connected, you can transfer your files off your computer’s internal hard drive, freeing up space that will have your system running smoother.
All of these are simple tasks that even novice computer users should be able to complete with no problems. If you do require assistance, remember that if you purchased your computer or your new external hard drive at Abt, it comes with free lifetime phone tech support. We’d be glad to talk you through some of these tasks. Or, you can stop by one of our free computer classes for some basic info, or schedule a one-on-one lesson with a computer technician for more in-depth lessons.