Sara’s Tech Tips: Spring Clean Your Computer

March 1, 2011 at 3:43 pm , by

sara-phoneSpring is here, so you know what that means – spring-cleaning!  As much as any room in the house, your computer needs a little cleaning love too.  Here are 4 steps to help you get started:

  1. Straighten your desktop – If you have programs on the desktop or start up menu that you haven’t used in the last year, you probably aren’t going to use them.  These programs take up memory and slow your computer down, especially when booting it up.  In order to get rid of them, you need to “uninstall” them (dragging them to the trash/recycling bin only removes the icon/shortcut, but NOT the actual software.)  Also, make some folders for the documents, pictures, and everything else that’s cluttering your desktop. Even if it is titled “random” or “Sara’s stuff,” at least it’s a start!
  2. Eliminate duplicates – One of my computer pet peeves is duplicate pictures.  I like to have them saved at work and at home.  So, every time I sync my mobile phone, I end up with two or three copies of every picture, argh!  Duplicate File Finder (also duplicate image and song finder) is free software that will do the job for you.  You can even narrow down what files/folders you want searched.  After they are identified, you choose to delete, move, or even copy to somewhere else.  Let the type A personalities rejoice!
  3. Clean up & Defrag – Both the disk clean up and defragment can be done right from your own computer.  I like to compare it to the self-cleaning oven (not that I ever use my oven…).  On a Windows computer click the start button and then go to Programs>Accessories>System tools. The clean up will get rid of all of your temporary files and caches, whereas defrag will help your hard drive to work more efficiently by grouping pieces of related data back together.
  4. Back it up – The first question any IT person will ask you when you’re frantic because you erased or lost a recently perfected resume, or the pictures from your family vacation: Did you back it up? We’ve all been told to back up, back up, back up—but now it’s time to do something about it. It will cost you a little money, but can you really put a price on your family photos?  Starting at about $100, you can buy an external hard drive to store files, or utilize an online back up service like Mozy or Carbonite for a mere $5 a month or so.