Have You Cleaned Your PC Lately? Here Are Five Steps To Keeping Your Computer Clean

Clean Out Your Computer Day was a stern reminder to all of us that our files, e-mails, and software pile up to the point that they bog down our PC’s and create clutter. By removing that clutter and keeping our file folders and inboxes clean, we can save all that time we spend trying to find things and put it to better use.

Held the second Monday in February each¬† year, Clean Out Your Computer Day is a day businesses set aside to go through computers to remove unnecessary programs and files. This effort can also be extended to mobile devices, online accounts, and removable drives like flash drives to organize and de-clutter every aspect of a person’s electronic life.

“I add and add and add files to Google Drive and Dropbox,” SmallBizTechnology’s Ramon Ray says. “After two or three years, I end up with a mess of files I don’t even look at anymore.”

As many of us have learned, waiting for a single day each year to clean up files can result in hours of work. Just as small weekly house cleanings prevent a weekend-long cleaning spree in the spring, managing clutter each day reduces the need to spend hours cleaning things up a few times a year.

Here are a few ways we can all keep clutter to a minimum throughout the year.

  • Organize e-mail. As you go through your inbox, immediately mark any messages you won’t read and delete them. Or, better yet, unsubscribe from those e-mails. You’ll usually find the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the message itself. Organize all other e-mails into folders and create an action folder in which you can store those items that require either a response or activity from you.
  • Uninstall unnecessary programs/applications. In Windows, you can easily remove programs in the Control Panel under the Uninstall a Program section. Make it a habit to routinely go through your programs list and take out any software you aren’t using. Conduct the same review of your mobile devices, deleting any apps you no longer use. Iolo, makers of System Mechanics, suggest you use a cleaner, such as theirs, to ensure that all programs are completely removed from the computer and no ‘residual clutter’ exists.
  • Use built-in tools. Windows has a “Disk Cleanup” tool that can automate work that would have normally taken you multiple separate steps. This tool will empty the recycle bin, remove temporary Internet files, delete programs you no longer use, and delete unneeded system files (Windows 8 only). You can find Disk Cleanup under your System Tools, which is in your start menu’s Accessories section.
  • Review Cloud storage. Chances are, your Cloud storage sites have files you never use. This is especially true if you use an automated backup service. Occasionally check the files on these sites and remove anything you no longer need. This will make it easier to find files if you ever lose something.
  • Mobile device cleanup. If you have a mess of apps, photos, and music on your mobile device, you should occasionally comb through them to find any you no longer use. Many mobile devices provide the opportunity to group apps, photos, and files, allowing users to more easily find what they need. Keeping your device lean also speeds up syncing and updating.

Device cleanup isn’t an easy process, but once you’ve begun the daily process of managing your files and accounts, you’ll be able to more easily find items when you need them. This will keep important items from slipping through the cracks, possibly saving your business from losing valued clients.

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Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and young adult/middle grade novelist, who worked in information systems for more than a decade. Her first book, 30 Days of No Gossip, will be released by Simon and Schuster in spring 2014. She lives in Nashville with her husband.

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