Freshen up and clean out your computer

Earlier in the year, we took some cues from Marie Kondo by sorting out our homes and removing any items that didn’t spark joy to ensure a fresh start to 2019. Your devices deserve the Marie Kondo treatment too, so now it’s time to move on to our computers, clean out and declutter their contents and make it sparkle!

Personally, I use my computer every day but when it comes to tidying up I tend to head for the desk, drawers or keyboard and forget about the contents of my hardworking computer. We’ve put together a list of things that you can do to give your computer a new lease of life both inside and out.

Tackle the desktop

While you might find that storing files on your desktop saves you time trying to locate them later, when the desktop starts to fill up it can create chaos. Not only will this lead to wasted time locating specific files but it will also slow down your computer when it starts to creep towards capacity. Those folders on your Windows and MAC are there for you to assign certain types of content – documents, photos and videos – so use them!

Sort those files

When it comes to filing your documents away, keep things simple so it’s easy to find them later down the track. For example, if you have a folder for your bills, break down its contents by year and month or type of expense.

Doubling up on photos

How many photos in your folder are duplicates? If you don’t know, there’s probably a few there so try sorting and storing them with Google Photos. In addition to your computer, you can also set up your smartphones and tablets to automatically save your photos to Google photos so they’re all in one place.

Utilise the cloud

Physical clutter can impact our performance, likewise digital clutter can impact a computer’s performance and speed. Once you’ve tidied up the files it’s time to organise the clutter you can’t see.

If you’re not using certain folders or files, move them up to the cloud or onto a hard drive if you want to keep them or if you don’t need them, it’s time to press delete. If you don’t already use a cloud-based backup system, consider setting one up so you have a backup version of your files for safekeeping in the event that your files become corrupted on your device. Just like your folder system, make sure you keep these organised too!

Defragment your hard drive

When we save data and files, the computer finds any available space on the hard drive to store the information. If there isn’t enough space, your computer will fragment or split this data into pieces. When you defrag your hard drive, you are putting these pieces back together and clearing the scattered file clusters. By doing so, you’re likely to experience faster speeds and less loading time.

On Windows – Start > Accessories > System Tools > Disc Clean-Up.

On MAC – Search for Disk Utility by going to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.

Surfing the ties

To spring clean your internet browser, start by clearing out your cookies. Here is a handy guide for clearing cookies on most browsers. A number of temporary internet files are stored on your hard drive to make loading web pages faster. To clear out this data, we want to empty the cache. Use this guide to clear the cache on any browser. Finally, have a sort through your bookmarks and remove any you’re no longer using.

Manage your programs

Programs can take up a lot of unnecessary space on your computer, especially if you aren’t using them. If there are a number of programs you don’t remember installing or no longer use, free up the hard drive space by uninstalling them.

On Windows – Control Panel >Programs and Features.

On MAC – Finder > Applications > Uninstall if it gives you the option, otherwise just drag it to the Trash.

If you’re still tight on space, macOS users can head to Apple Menu > About This Mac > Storage > Manage > Recommendations and get a few suggestions for cleaning things up.

Take out the trash

Now that you’ve filled it up, be sure to empty out the recycling bin too!

Declutter the email

If you’ve built up a lot of clutter in your email inbox, the thought of clearing it out can be overwhelming. First things first, if the content spans over more than one year, let’s clear out everything from the year before (and each year prior to that) into individual folders. Here is a quick tip for filing multiple emails on Gmail and archiving on Outlook.

Once you’ve done this, choose a few folders to sort emails into such as work, bills, play, newsletters, etc. Once you’ve done this, you can search using emails, phone numbers, or keywords and file them in bulk in the corresponding folder. Delete, archive or mark as read any emails older than six months old because let’s be honest, if you haven’t actioned them by now, you probably never will.

Now that you’ve filed everything away, check through the newsletters you receive and unsubscribe from any emails you haven’t been looking at or don’t care about. Chances are you will remove 95% of these and heavily reduce the spam in your incoming email.

Wipe it over

Now that you’ve cleaned it out, it’s time to make that computer sparkle! Before doing any of this, make sure your computer is turned off and unplugged. First things first, wipe down the keyboard and mouse or trackpad to remove any bacteria and dirt. A whole lot of dust crumbs can make their way into the inner workings of your keyboard. To get rid of small bits and pieces you may need to shake it around a lot or use an ear bud or compressed air duster if you have one available. While you have the air duster – don’t forget the dust in the USB and HDMI ports as well.

Can you see any fingerprints? When cleaning a delicate monitor screen, using everyday cleaning chemicals such as Windex or Spray and Wipe or tap water can cause damage. Instead, opt for a microfiber cloth dampened with distilled water to remove streaks from your screens.

Tie up the Cords

Control those chords by tidying them up and bunching them together with cable ties or clamps to ensure a safe area around your workstation.

If you have any must do clean ups for your computer each year, share them with us in the comments below.