Note: This post originally appeared on National Clean Out Your Computer Day, but the tips are applicable any day of the year.
If you’ve ever looked at one of those “days of the year” calendars, you’ll know that literally every day of the year is marked by some silly celebration. For example, today is National Toothache Day.
That said, once in a while, one of these “National Days Of” comes around that reminds us that it might be a good time to do something useful that we’ve probably been putting off. Today is one of those. It is also National Clean Out Your Computer Day.
Our computers are the nerve-center of our work lives. A little bit of routine maintenance can go a long way to making them run faster and last longer. A little preparation can also make sure your data is protected for when the day comes you do have a computer problem.
With that in mind, here are 5 things you can do to help your computer and yourself work better on National Clean Out Your Computer Day:
Get Up To Date With Your Updates
Yes, updates can be a pain. They can take forever and it’s never convenient to restart your computer. That said, nothing else on this list will make much difference if you skip this step. It’s that important. Make sure your operating system and security programs – anti-virus and anti-malware – are up to date. Hackers prey on out of date software because the manufacturers of the software have stopped maintaining it.
Delete Unused Apps
Apps you aren’t using take up space and memory on your computer, both enemies of peak performance, and they may even be starting up and running each time your computer reboots. The more of these you have, the more of an impact they have. If you are wondering what something is, do a quick Google search before deleting it, however.
Clean it up
- Keyboard & Mouse cleaning – You probably use your keyboard and mouse often enough that you won’t see dust piling up on it, but consider for a moment where your hands have been. Have you ever sneezed while working? Do your kids touch your keyboard and/or mouse? For these reasons and more it is a great idea to power your computer down and wipe your keyboard and mouse down with a disinfectant wipe periodically.
- Monitor cleaning – It is a good idea to make sure that there are no finger prints, dust, or other contaminants on your computer monitor. Since monitors can be made of many different materials it is important to consult the care documentation that came with your particular monitor. Always be mindful of dust buildup near vent holes and be sure to use caution so you don’t scratch the monitor display.
- Computer Fan Vents – While you are dusting off your monitor it’s a good idea to wipe any dust off of your computer as well, paying particular attention to the fan vent holes that allow heat to escape from the processor fan. Dust buildup can impact air flow and cause the processor to overheat and diminish the lifecycle of the computer.
Clean Up the Desktop (and other files)
The files on your computer are probably like my garage. Every time I carry something out there, I set it down just anywhere, without much thought to keeping it all organized. Each item on it’s own doesn’t create a problem, but over time stuff piles up and you can hardly walk through there.
If you want to work more efficiently and be able to find files when you need them, you have to get them organized. Here are the two main ways to accomplish that:
- File Naming Conventions – Some people use the year, file contents, file subjects, or a number of other factors as drivers for their naming conventions. It doesn’t really matter what convention you use, but it is a good idea to have one. Having and using a naming convention standard for all of your files will allow you to quickly find what you are looking for and can serve as in indicator of when you no longer need something and it is safe to delete it.
- Have a Filing System – Just as it isn’t a sound strategy to pile all of your important paper documents on your desk, it isn’t a good idea to just save all of your computer files to one directory/folder. There are many options for how to organize your files, but you may want to consider high level categories like work, family photos, music, videos, personal files, etc. From there you can create sub folders/directories that enable you to know right where to look later when you are trying to find something specific.
It can seem like there is always something more pressing to do than backing up your data on your computer, but try to imagine what you would do if your computer vanished. All of your pictures, emails, work documents, videos — gone. Not good, right? Well, to prevent this nightmare scenario from happening, all of this data should be backed up to the cloud. (Office Essentials uses and recommends Mozy Cloud Backup.) If you are already doing that, today is a good day to make sure this process is working as it should, and to make sure all the files you want to back up are in locations that are being backed up.
Don’t forget, backing up your computer is also one of our two really simple ways to make you and your data hacker proof.
Whether you maintain your own computer, or all the computers at your office, we have the experts that can help you keep your technology working for you, and not the other way around. If you’d like to talk with someone that can help, send us an email
Some information and the image for this post courtesy of High Point University.