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Spring Cleaning–Geek Style

Does the warm weather have you thinking about doing some spring cleaning? Start with your computer.

Every year around this time, I e-mail my customers and remind them that we offer spring cleaning services.  No, we don’t come to your house and clean the windows or sweep the floors.  We help get your computer all tuned up and ready for warmer weather. While it really doesn’t matter when your computer gets cleaned up, the spring cleaning time seems to be a great reminder that we need to remember our computer when making that "honey do" list!

While you won’t get all of our secrets in this blog, I have listed some of the things we do in order to help you have a happy or at least functional computer :-)

Remove, sort or move unwanted or unused programs and files

Start with what you can see first: your desktop.  If your desktop is cluttered with pictures and music files and documents, file them away.  If you have lots of program icons, organize them into folders.

Look in the lower right hand corner of your screen.  Do you have lots of icons down by the clock? Those are programs that are all running and taking up memory on your computer.  Chances are good that you don’t need all of those programs running. On most, you can right click and shut them off.  On others, you will need to do a little more research on how to turn them off.

Uninstall old programs that haven't been used in a year or so–or ever

Chances are good if you bought a computer from a bigger chain store or an online retailer, your computer came with programs you didn’t want and have never used. Instead of keeping these programs around, remove them.  You can go into your "control panel" and click on "programs" and "features" or "add/remove programs."  You can remove any programs you no longer have use for to free up some space!  

Check out this video on how to remove programs if you are using Windows 7.

Scandisk/Defrag

Your computer files can become fragmented on the hard drive. You want to keep your computer running as efficiently as possible.  The less work the computer has to do to find information, the better off it will be.  If you open up "computer" or "my computer", you will see your hard drive listed as the c: drive or the OS drive. By right clicking on your hard drive and selecting "properties", this will open a new window with tabs across the top.  Click on "tools" and in the error checking area, click "check now." You may need to reboot your computer for the scan to start.

Once you are done, follow the same steps to get to the tools tab, and select "defragment now."  Follow the on-screen prompts to defrag your drive.  It is not recommended that you do this more than once a year for average users.

Clear temporary files

Web browser-Temporary files can build up in your web browser.  It doesn’t matter if you use Chrome, Firefox or IE, you will get files that build up.  What browser you are using will determine how you can clean it out.   Go to the help function of your web browser (usually by pressing F1) and look for ways to clean out the cache.   For example, in Firefox, you would click on the "wrench" icon in the upper right hand corner, click on "under the hood" and then click the button that reads "clear browsing data."  Follow the prompts to clean out the memory of your web browser. Just remember that it will erase any information about sites you have visited, including saved passwords.

Hard drive-Just like your browser, your hard drive can fill up with useless temporary files that have never been deleted and are just taking up space. If you are running Windows 7, you can just click on the start orb, in the search box type "disk cleanup" and click on "disk clean up."  At this point, you can chose to remove your own files, or all uses files. This is up to you.  On the disk clean up window, you can select the files you want to remove by placing a check in the box next to their location. Once done selecting files, click "OK" and follow the on-screen prompts to delete the files.  Note that any files you have stored in a temporary location will also be removed.

Physical computer parts

Just like your software, your hardware can get clogged up and dirty, too.  You can wipe down the outside of the computer with a duster or dust rag.  You should also power off your computer and unplug it from the wall. Once you have done this, take the cover off and see if there is any dust build up around the computer or any of the fans.  If there is, use a plastic-tipped vacuum and vacuum out all the dust.  You can also use a can of compressed air to force some of the dust and debris out. Don’t spray directly on the fans, if you spin them too fast, you can ruin their motors.  Take extra care when doing anything inside your computer case.  If you don’t feel comfortable attempting this, give a professional a call.

Following the above steps will put you well on your way to keeping your computer running efficiently. Now on to the windows...

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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